Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Man Behind Amoskeag XX

I admire gutsy creatives like Kenji Kawasaki, the man behind the brand Amoskeag XX known for fantastic creations like the jean made from seamless, shuttle-loomed denim and the new "Millworker" jean. It takes bold character to quit one's day job to pursue a dream. In the case of Kawasaki a denim-loving outsider may even say he had a dream job at Design Works where he developed and sold some of the most breathtaking denim fabrics from Japanese mills.

Years of practicing his trade has prepared him well to found Amoskeag XX whose products have such layers of beauty both apparent and underlying that will satisfy hardcore and casual denim consumers alike. Take for example the light shade seamless jean I have been praising since 2008 when Kawasaki first introduced the brand. With its seamless lower legs the jean is at once familiar and wildly imaginative. Students of American mill history will remember the now defunct Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, the namesake of Kawasaki's brand, was once a producer of seamless feed and seed sacks, along with renown denim fabrics like the 3x1 right-hand-twill sold to Levi Strauss & Co., for its first denim waist overalls, now famous as "XX."

Poking around the Amoskeag XX shop in the Lower East Side of New York City one will find many treasures. Not for sale is a quilt of various denims developed by Kawasaki. The opportunity to study this piece is reason enough to make the trip but you will not be disappointed by the many jeans for sale on display accompanied by relics from the Amoskeag mill.

In an age when anyone with a production budget, spare time and a relationship with a decent sewing factory can squeeze out a denim label it is refreshing to meet a brand owner with extensive knowledge of the material that makes up most of the garment. A lot can be said about one who learned on the job in Japan where quality fabric and garment production is still abundant. In the case of Kawasaki he is knowledgeable in many aspects needed to make a jean that can be proudly displayed in a store.

I asked about the pair of "Millworker" Kawasaki has been wearing and he graciously showed me the warp yarns meticulously displayed in a clear package to show off the yarn counts and slubs that contribute to the attractive vertical shade streaks in the 12.5oz loom-state (unfinished) fabric.

For a breath of fresh air laden with the scent of history check out Amoskeag XX. Down the road we will feature a few of the products Kawasaki calls his own.

Amoskeag XX Website

Amoskeag XX
96 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002-3150
(646) 237-7336