Friday, August 28, 2009

Billiken Man Jeans

The Billiken Man jeans is a beautifully constructed garment. Everything from the beltloops to the button fly facing to the waistband are on point and super playful. The people behind the brand are obsessed with sewing details and offer the mind boggling "triangle" or "three point" chainstitches overlock stitches found on the leg seams, pocketing, and throughout the jeans. As they put it the goal was the "recreation of interlock sewing machines to produce the union special stitches which was considered impossible before." Did they hack their sewing machines?

In line with many Japanese business and craftsman practices they took two American icons, the Billiken Man and jeans, and applied such unique twists and enhancements that the end result is something that reflects pure Japanese artistry. And obsession.

If you have not heard of the Billiken Man you are probably not alone. A quick Google search shows that it was once a popular American pop culture icon that even had popular songs singing its praise. The original Billiken was designed by artist Florence Pretz as a symbol that evoked good luck. Pretz allegedly saw the figure in a dream who told her that good luck can be had by rubbing his feet. It is further believed that Billiken is the namesake of President William Howard Taft. The "ken" part of Billiken is likely a bastardization of the word Can in "Billy Can" as in there are those Billys who can and those Billys who can't. Billiken then is obviously meant to inspire the "can do" attitude that helps a nation get through difficult times.

The Billiken license was eventually picked up by Horsman Dolls, Inc., the American toy company that marketed the Teddy Bear named after President Theodore Roosevelt. Today the Japanese have incorporated the Billiken man into their cast of deities. If you visit the Tsutenkaku tower in Osaka you will find a statue of the Billiken enshrined there.

The makers of these jeans have invoked the good spirit of Billiken to create a jean full of playful details. The orange thread used throughout the jeans are reminiscent of Billiken's hair color and the wavy back pocket stitching reflects the overall features of the smiling, seated character. The company proclaims the jeans "will assure you of the lively and optimistic lifestyles in this challenging moment in our history."

The stitching that appears to be a bartack is actually a zigzag stitch.

If you are ever in need of a shot of luck just rub the Billiken Man's feet wherever you are.

The button holes are beautifully executed with a hand-tied-tail look and a stitch that changes pitch towards the curve.

Billiken Man Website


Blogger benzak said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/04/2009 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger benzak said...


Can you further explain: "recreation of interlock sewing machines to produce the union special stitches which was considered impossible before." What is this union special stitch and why was it considered impossible to reproduce?

Great blog btw, I've been following it for a while now! Check my blog as well:



9/04/2009 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Henry Wong said...

Hi- Thanks for the comment. I learned yesterday that the company's quote actually refers to overlock stitches similar to those made by vintage Union Special brand overlocking machines. I am still learning about it but "chainstitch" is the wrong word to use. Please see the latest post clarifying this.

As I am still learning about this I am obviously no authority on the subject. I enjoy being a student more than a teacher anyway...

9/04/2009 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger benzak said...


I'm still learning as well, hence my question!

Keep posting!



9/05/2009 03:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any company in USA that carries Billikenman jeans?

9/27/2009 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a contact to the person who have Biliken denim if you want it for your boutique ?

10/01/2009 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Weird said...

How can i get these jeans to the usa?

11/08/2009 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger Henry Wong said...

Ask Gordon at Blue in Green.

11/13/2009 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous price per head said...

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5/05/2012 01:49:00 PM  
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7/27/2012 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Tok jogho piji said...

I have a pants in this model
Size 32x44
Full original
Made in japan

2/20/2019 02:20:00 PM  

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