The Importance of good products: A collaboration with OrSlow’s Ichiro
When we first encountered OrSlow at Paris Fashion Week we were completely baffled by the resemblance of Ichiro Nakatsu's jeans to that of a vintage Levi’s 501. The shade of the indigo, as well as the touch, made us feel like we were holding a 1970s Levi’s jean. Mister Nakatsu's vision of making timeless high-quality clothing which is vintage-inspired is completely in-tune with our vision at Tenue de Nîmes. It was the perfect match. After this encounter, we feel very proud to say that the lovely people at OrSlow became our friends and this collaboration is our fourth with them!
After thinking for months about what the next special collaboration needed to be with our beloved friends at OrSlow, I couldn't come up with the right piece. As I walked into their showroom in Paris, I noticed OrSlow founder and designer Ichiro Nakatsu was wearing an incredible washed denim.
Overly excited I asked him: "Dear Ichiro-San, which beautiful wash are you wearing right now?" He replied in his humble and shy way; "My wash" and started laughing. It turned out he had worn his own brands '107 One Wash' for over a year and the jeans had started to age in just the most perfect way. I said to myself "This is it!". In the history of OrSlow, most of their jeans come in either a One Wash rinsed version or a 2- or 3-Year wash. The magic in this particular 'Ichiro Wash' is that the contrast fade has already started, but the new owner still can give it a twist and start writing his/her signature on the jean.
Overly excited I asked him: "Dear Ichiro-San, which beautiful wash are you wearing right now?" He replied in his humble and shy way; "My wash" and started laughing.
After recreating his own worn jeans with a special jean wash recipe, mister Nakatsu hand-painted all 32 pairs in his atelier and also hand-signed all of them with his signature in beautiful, mindful Japanese perfection on the leather patch. These subtle touches make these jeans a collector's must-have.
During these particularly stressful and uncertain times, we decided to release these jeans to prove to the world that well-made and sustainable products are important now more than ever in a society which is built on over-producing and consuming. We've taken the liberty to ask our friend mister Nakatsu some questions about the current pandemic and why being mindful is more important than we might have thought.
The first thing we asked mister Nakatsu was how he was doing in these strange times. In his reply, he seemed to be slightly unfazed, in a good way, by the whole situation. He told us that he still goes to his office, as usual, to work on the SS21 collection. In his spare time, he drives around in his car and does some DIY-projects at home. He even seemed to be quite positive about the future in the past-COVID-19 era.
“I think the COVID-19 boosted us digitally more than ever for any occasion, in a way. The digitalization even may be able to make clothing one day by a 3D printer for example. This would change how the manufacturing industry is because it can save time and labor costs, also raw materials such as cotton. And garments, as we make, would be super rare compared to the garments made by 3D printer. But we won't change the way we do things. We will keep making OrSlow garments in the same way with the same materials. It doesn't mean we will resist the "digital", it is just the way that I love to keep doing things.
It would be impossible for OrSlow to switch to this proposed ‘digital’ way of producing clothes. The way that OrSlow creates their garments is by using vintage industrial sewing-machines. After discovering his love for vintage Levi’s clothing, which all started with a pair of overalls his mother gifted him, mister Nakatsu knew he wanted to make the perfect jeans. Without any real reference, he started tinkering at his home at the end of the ‘90s. After discovering that the stitching from his sewing-machine didn’t resemble that of his beloved vintage Levi’s, he learned about old industrial sewing-machines. He started to collect these too. In 2002 he finished his first pair of real industrial denim, and in 2005 he founded OrSlow. But OrSlow doesn’t only create denim, they have a wide range of incredible workwear-inspired clothing which he first encountered on a special trip to Tennessee in the ’90s.
“I was staying in Tennessee in the '90s. I grabbed a road map and drove around in the state to find some vintage masterpieces. Now, I get something from thrift shops or a flea market when I am on a business trip in Europe or the USA, and even sometimes in Japan.”
For someone who is inspired and strives to make clothing that can stand the test of time, you would think that mister Nakatsu would strongly oppose the thought of fast fashion. Yet he remained very calm and thoughtful when we asked him about his views on this phenomenon. He doesn’t reject the idea of fast fashion, because each brand should have its own concept. He wanted to introduce vintage-inspired clothing to the world. That is the significance of his brand and what he wanted to do in his life.
“I do care about the fast-moving fashion industry. I think that fast fashion is wanted and needed by our society somehow. But this may be just a piece of an event in the current era and some new thing may pop up in future. What I care about more is to keep producing Orslow garments with high quality. The items I designed and will design are based on what I have been into, '40s ~ '60s work and military wear made by the limited vintage sewing machines. (You know what I like Rudy!) I wish and it would be great if OrSlow garments were needed in our current society, with other brands.”
Judging by his answers, it seems that mister Nakatsu just wants to do what he does best. He doesn’t seem to pay too much attention to his surroundings. His has found his goal in life and that is the only thing that matters to him. OrSlow was founded as an idea against the fast fashion industry and fast-moving society, hence the name Or’Slow’. When we asked him if he had any tips to escape the fast-moving society he answered;
‘I don't know if I can give you the right answer for that, but maybe staying away from the cellphone, devices, SNS, would help? But the fact is that it is hard to live without them…’
A life without our electronic devices is indeed hard to achieve since we rely on them so heavily. Though I think that maybe without fully realizing mister Nakatsu has already found the answer on how to escape it. His work-ethic of just doing what he loves, without paying too much attention to the rest, at his own pace. A true man of his craft. The final question we asked mister Nakatsu was what inspires him to keep going on. His answer is simple and short, but I believe it perfectly embodies his humble strive;
‘Maybe I think that to keep having the desire to experience various things would inspire me to do things.’
On this picture: Hiroshi Tominaga (left),
Rudy and Ichiro Nakatsu (right)
Interview by Rudy Ross written by Thomas Hibbert
Lookbook photo's by René Kramers
The Tenue de Nîmes x OrSlow 107 'Ichiro' 1 Year Wash is now available HERE