Here’s How Kurabo Captures Creativity in Denim

By Carved In Blue

When times are tough and bottom lines are ever important, brands may tend to focus on cost over creativity.

That, however, is an unfortunate scenario Kurabo works to avoid by keeping things fresh from the fiber level.

Whether it’s innovative spinning techniques or new fiber blends, the Japanese denim maker wants to be at the forefront of it all.

Carved in Blue caught up with Kurabo’s Brad Mowry, CEO at Artisan Cloth, to get the scoop on what’s going on with the company.

Carved in Blue: Tell us—what’s the latest with Kurabo? 

Brad: Kurabo’s first expertise and advantage is yarn spinning, so one thing we are always working on is innovating spinning techniques and fiber blends to keep our fabrics interesting.

We feel so fortunate to have industry leading brands and trend influencers as our core partners in the industry. These brands trust us to give them new innovations every season in yarn shapes, weaving techniques, special finishes and good fiber stories they can share with their buyers. This season introduces some exciting Kurabo and Lenzing fiber blends. We always try to deliver the best!

Carved in Blue: What’s the latest trend in denim out of Japan?

Brad: Some of the latest trends in denim out of Japan goes two different directions:

  1. A very clean and sophisticated look with a unique softness we call “sweet spin.” We mix different fiber types in spinning to create a unique soft hand feel from the yarn, and then wash to achieve the luxury appearance. We offer this in comfort stretch, and high stretch.

  1. Kurabo is well known for our authentic denim using thicker and rugged looking yarns with a variety of yarn shapes and rich color. So, with our newest collection we are calling on an influence from the ‘80s but with a modern appearance. We are calling this group “Modern Vintage.” For this category, we have non-stretch 100 percent cotton in 2×1 and 3×1 weaving, as well as comfort stretch (up to 30 percent elongation).

Our brand partners are creating a variety of washes from light to dark washes. The result is somehow honoring looks from the past with a beautifully worn in look—yet a fresh modern appearance overall.

Carved in Blue: What are some technologies you’re embracing?

Brad: We have a very exciting product category called “KURABO/E2.” KURABO/E2 represents the next level of “ECO” denim. Kurabo is now introducing a product using TENCEL™ Lyocell and Kurabo’s “Return Cotton” for the weft. Return Cotton is yarn made from clean spinning waste. So, by blending TENCEL™ Lyocell and Return Cotton there is no virgin cotton used, only recycled fibers are used to make this denim.

We hope to introduce another new product to our KURABO/E2 category this year using REFIBRA™ technology by TENCEL™ Lyocell and Kurabo’s Return Cotton.

“AQUATIC” is also a new and exciting technology at Kurabo. AQUATIC a new kind of denim. We have created traditional blue and black denim products using NO indigo or sulfur dye. AQUATIC has a sort of “forever blue” or “forever black” quality meaning it retains color, yet you can achieve a vintage appearance with laser or hand sanding. Crocking or color transfer from rubbing has always been a concern for indigo and sulfur denim and with AQUATIC the crock rating has been drastically improved compared to traditional indigo or sulfur black denim, reducing a brand liability or concern for color transfer. Our showrooms in New York, and Los Angeles are at Artisan Cloth Inc., For an appointment please contact

Carved in Blue: How important is sustainability at Kurabo? 

Brad: Sustainability is more than just a category within our collection. At Kurabo, sustainability is a culture we are adapting rather than a trend. We want to be responsible and conscious of the environment, and mindful of future generations.

Carved in Blue: In your opinion, does the selvedge denim trend have staying power?

Brad: Our capacity is limited and we could consider Selvedge a novelty actually, but selvedge denim is very important for some brands who have a focus on authenticity. So far, we continue to see the interest from denim enthusiasts and vintage denim brands. Selvedge denim seems to create a value-added component to some brands. Shuttle loom production while inefficient creates a unique look unlike any modern weaving, and the Selvedge tape ID colors can be customized to match a brand’s color story.

Carved in Blue: So a little about you now—when did you first know you were a blueblood?

Brad: HAHA—We’ve never known any different way so indigo is life.

Carved in Blue: What was your first pair of jeans?

 Brad: Of course, Levi’s.

Carved in Blue: What country/city/person/artist do you look to for denim inspiration?

 Brad: We always keep an eye on new Japanese trends, and we also always remember traditions, but in our travels we try to study interesting trends and creative direction from the USA, Europe and Asia. We feel Los Angeles is one of the many very important places for creativity.

Carved in Blue: What’s missing from the denim industry today?

 Brad: Sometimes a clear vision from brands. In challenging economic times, sometimes brands are forced to focus on sales or cost and may lose a creative advantage. We hope the future brings strong economics and confident creativity.

Carved in Blue: What does Carved in Blue mean to you?

 Brad: Kurabo is proud to be associated with Lenzing as the Carved in Blue blog seems to be a great way to reach creatives who want to stay on the pulse of new ideas.

Note: Artisan Cloth, with showrooms in New York City and Los Angeles,  is the US office for Kurabo Industries Ltd, HW Textiles, and Tavex (Mexico).

Danielle Lee