In the late 80s and early 90s, a small cabal of Japanese vintage denim enthusiasts, based in and around Osaka, took their interest to the logical next step of producing their own clothing. The brands that emerged from this, known as the ‘Osaka Five’, were at the vanguard of the resurgence of selvedge denim, long before it’s ascent to the ubiquity it enjoys today.
One of the Osaka Five brands was Full Count, founded by Mikiharu Tsujita - who had been working with Hidehiko Yamane during the genesis of Evisu - in 1992.
Whilst Evisu developed into an experimental, fashion-conscious brand and other members of the Osaka Five went deep into the rabbit-hole of vintage workwear reproduction, Tsujita’s interest was always the period of time in which denim transitioned from it’s workwear roots to a more casual fabric, and jeans became the de facto uniform of teenage rebels the world over.
Thus, Full Count is most famous for their uniquely Japanese take on the jeans of Brando, Dean and their peers – and for their pioneering use of Zimbabwean cotton. The cotton used to weave denim is the building block, and Zimbabwean cotton is the cream of the crop, if you’ll excuse the pun. Partly, it’s the climate: the strong sun exposure produces a longer fiber; partly, it’s that the cotton is organic and picked by hand. The end result is stronger, softer cotton that is ideal for denim manufacture.
Full Count are weaving their own denim on shuttle looms acquired from Cone Mills subcontractors. These looms used to weave the legendary XX denim back in the 1960s; just one more way in which they exercise a level of control over their products that is hard to match.
Between the fabric itself, the fits – based around the Levis 501s of the late 40s and 50s – and the construction quality, Full Count’s stated aim of producing a purist’s jean that– in Tsujita’s own words – ‘feels so good that you don’t want to take them off’ is well and truly achieved.