Hello again, and thank you for joining us for ‘The Devil In the Detail’, the editorial where I take a look at the ever so fine details of one particular garment. Those of you who tuned in last month might recognise the timbre of this path of thought, as we once again find ourselves looking at a garment bourn amidst the global political unrest of the early 1940s. This time however we are looking at the lower half of the body, and more specifically at the brilliant new S0105W rinsed jean, from Japan’s Full Count brand.
Now, some might say that the quality of the brand can be measured by how they tackle the iconic WWII model jean, but fortunately for Full Count, this is a song in which they are very well versed. Since its inception in 1993, the brand has been carving its own path in the denim history books, by drawing on tradition whilst keeping one eye fixed on the future, producing many Second World War models along the way. Together with peer companies, these Japanese virtuoso’s have boldly claimed the title of the ‘home of denim’ for themselves, arguably outpacing the west in the production of fabric and design innovation. Of course, the brand has input all of this knowledge and heritage tenacity into this new offering which we will now jump right into.
For those who aren’t familiar with what is commonly called the WWII model, we are talking about a jean which is inspired by American denim production of the first half of the 1940s. It was a country under the dark cloud of the Second World War, where battles of the past were thrust back into the population’s current memory, and when the present and future were both unwritten and unclear. Rationing had taken hold of the country, limiting the number of fabrics and materials which could be used for garment construction, with precious resources redirected to factories focused on aiding the front line troops. There was no time for luxury or decadence, and although the world of fashion didn’t grind to a complete holt, there were numerous corners cut to adhere to government guidelines. If we can use the Levi’s 1944 model as the touchstone against which to measure all other WWII jeans, we will notice that the things which stand it apart include; an unriveted watch pocket which helped to save on precious metals, pocket bags which would be made from whatever fabric would be lying around, and one less steel fly-button than we might be used to.
The S0105W has all these iconic qualities, but the thing which makes this jean so authentic, in very much the same way as all Full Count jeans, is the denim. When we utter this brand’s name, the words ‘Zimbabwean cotton’ are bound to follow duly, earning us a reputation as a denim geek or nerd. But good things come to those who nerd hard, and that is exactly what Mikiharu Tsujita found when he went in search of the cotton which most closely resembled that of his favourite jeans from childhood. The thing which is so special about this cotton from Zimbabwe is that it is all at once soft and sturdy. Traditional hand picking methods allow the lustrously long strands of cotton to be unbroken, giving the cotton integrity which can’t be achieved when the plant is harvested by heavy-duty, modern machines. These long strains are then woven into denim on the original 1960’s XX shuttle looms from America, and the result is truly the closest you can get to the original standard of denim without building yourself a time machine.
Needless to say, you can find this denim in a 13.75oz weight in this WWII model, which has been carefully rinsed to remove much of the excess shrinkage. Over time this fabric treats its wearer to new realms of comfort, as the long strains of cotton allow the material to form to your body with ease, and produce natural fades which will have your denim friends cursing you until they are blue in the face (or indigo in the face!). The deep colour on this denim has been paired with traditional ‘laurel wreath’ doughnut buttons. One copper on the waistband, and three steel on the button-fly. Punched through copper rivets can be found throughout, including concealed back pocket rivets, though as you will remember, the watch pocket has been left bare which allows the subtle pink selvedge line to peak out.
The pocket bags have been cut from a traditionally slubby flannel in muted monochrome tones, and are unbelievably comfortable. This feature is always something I look forward to in a WWII model, and Full Count hasn’t disappointed me at all. The loose weave of this flannel cotton provides something of a tricky sensation; heavyweight and light at the same time, and honestly, when I first saw them I thought they might be a little overpowering, but not at all. Now I have my hands constantly plunged into these front pockets, like a schoolboy who has been sent to the headmaster.
The S0105W stays faithful to the shape of jeans of the time its influence, boasting a comfortable loose/straight fit with a high rise that sits comfortably around the natural waist. A little more room is given in the thigh than previous iterations of the 0105, resembling a closer fit to the new ‘plain pocket’ models from the brand. Pairing this roomy fit with the mid-weight, 13.75oz denim, has resulted in one of my all-time favourite Full Count jeans, and if you are a fan of a looser fit, then this might just be the feature-packed option for you.
In all, the attention to detail is what makes this model a great buy. I’ve been wearing mine for around a month now, and all the characteristic signs of wear that I usually get are beginning to show in a way that forges a relationship between the human and inanimate object. The rivets on the right pocket are shining slightly more because I am left-handed, and the bottom of the left-back pocket is slightly worn from my horn comb. Yes, these jeans are unquestionably mine, and a part of me as any pair of jeans worth its salt should be. Yet they are still throwing up little nuances of detail which I had failed to notice in the past. The single needle back pockets boast imperfectly imperfect lines, as though they had been thrown through a vintage Singer machine in a manic production line, which is something I noticed after a week of wear.
It feels like the S0105W has many more secrets to tell over time, and I can’t wait to hear them. Oh, and for the raw denim lover, Full Count has just released a dry version which is crisp and clean, and will take you on a wild journey through time and space. Go on, you won’t be sorry you did. I certainly wasn’t!