Founders: Johan Blom & Jannis Hoff
Designed in Sweden, Crafted in Thailand
Customize and Design Your Jeans with SOSO Here
Meet Johan Blom, One Half of the SOSO Brothers:
"Denim is a material with an amazing lifespan. There are few materials that change over time like denim, it tells a story about the wearer that few materials can. I also love the texture of different weaves and how a shuttle loom can accomplish such wonderful patterns. A new pair of raw denim has such an incredible smell, almost like Christmas morning coffee!" -Johan
John and Jannis's (known as the "SOSO Brothers") bond led them to start SOSO. The company began with little capital and almost every cent the two make goes right back into the business. That hasn't stopped them though, as the Brothers are always on the hunt for new fabrics and the best hardware (like YKK) to pair with their clothing. SOSO is constantly introducing new denim fabrics, mostly selvedge and raw, on their website that customers can use to design jeans, jackets, shorts, shirts, chinos, and vests. The possibilities are endless!
When you shop on SOSO's website, you create and design what you want your denim clothing to look like. Every little detail is picked out by the customer, from the fabric used, to the thread color, to the selvedge ID placement. Since the consumers are the ones creating the final product, the process between design time to holding the garment in your hands can be anywhere from 4-6 weeks. In this impatient world, that is hardly ideal. However, SOSO products are not cheaply made like H&M or Zara. If you designed something to reflect who you are, would you want it to fall apart after a few wears and end up in the trash? No, you'd most likely want it to last a lifetime.
"We don’t like the idea that the big corporations tell us what we should wear and call it “fashion" when they’re basically profit driven entities put here to sell as much as possible."
"Big brands market their products as high-end fashion but they still use huge factories in 3rd world countries to cut costs. Our production is different since we only have minor factories that produce a worldwide supply that no other business can achieve. I also believe that it’s important to highlight that Thailand is an amazing producer of our goods, and that the production of our tailors is exactly like if the labels would have said “made in Sweden." It’s not the COUNTRY that matters, but the PERSON who tailors your product that does."
What is great about SOSO, and other companies like it, is that their clothes are made ethically in Thailand. When you visit SOSO's About Me Page, you can read about the people who make their garments once an order is placed. The Brothers work with people who love denim as much as they do and people who are actual tailors, not assembly line employees.
The SOSO Brothers are very engaging on social media and will respond to you as quick as they can. Johan and Jannis want to hear from their customers!
"I believe that it’s important to keep a transparent picture of SOSO. We (Johan & Jannis) believe that our quest for developing our brand comes from all of you, our customers. We love keeping in touch with the community everyday and listen to the advice we receive about our product developments."
About the Brand:
Founders: Alec & Lacey Nakashima
"AKASHI-KAMA is my way to aesthetically tell my story as an Asian-American... Equal parts minimalism and flair." -Alec Nakashima
Alec Nakashima wants to show others what it is like to be an Asian-American today. While some might put pen to paper, Alec, along with his wife Lacey, started AKASHI-KAMA to help tell the Asian American story through rich and colorful clothing models (the translation of the branding is "testimonials" after all). Combining the two cultures into one garment has been difficult. However, Alec and his team can firmly stand behind one of the company's tag lines: "modern products designed and influenced by the Japanese-American experience," with extreme confidence. For many consumers, AKASHI-KAMA will appear equal parts clothing and heritage art.
The Noragi Jacket Specs:
Made with 100% Japanese Cotton
Contrasting Inner Yolk Lining Pattern
Japanese Style High Kama Collar
Uses a Sashiko pattern
The Noragi Jacket is rooted in Japanese history as a garment that was mostly worn by the lower class. Its overall design helped it to be a long lasting garment due to being made with the Sashiko hand-sewing technique. Nowadays, like many of its workwear brethren of years past, the Noragi Jacket has transitioned to being a fashion piece in today's society.
This particular Noragi Jacket, created by AKASHI-KAMA, is made out of 100% red Japanese cotton with the infamous Seigaiha wave pattern, a symbol that represents the 'flow of life'. Size wise, I ordered a medium which fits me nicely; not to tight but not baggy either (although it can certainly be styled that way if sized up). Although labeled as a "jacket", it is quite thin and perfect for spring and cooler summer days. It is also a great layer piece for the fall that I will wear under a denim jacket for some added color among my sea of indigo clothing!
The Noragi Jacket can be an everyday wear if you so choose. I have been throwing it on each morning as the weather here in the Midwest has been in the 50's and 60's. It is not as heavy as the lightest sweatshirt out there and can be easily taken on and off. The jacket is also comfortable enough to be worn inside on a lazy day and can be a fashion statement when you go out for casual occasions.
Wearing this piece in public is a great conversation starter. If AKASHI-KAMA wants to tell the Asian-American story, they certainly succeeded. In the short time I have worn this garment, I have had conversations with several people regarding it; including what the symbols stand for, where I bought it, and what my own personal knowledge of Japan is. I started thinking about how clothing used to be more expressive and fashion seen more as an art form instead of the money hungry industry it has become today. I think AKASHI-KAMA is one of those new brands that see those two factors as a reason for starting their company and will help push society back to that mindset.
My one critique is more personal preference: I just wish their were side pockets. I have this same problem with my Naked & Famous Denim Jacket and find myself trying to put my hands in pockets that don't exist! However, pockets might add some additional girth and if you fill them up with all your everyday carry items the pocket cloth might sag below the bottom (which would be unsightly). Additionally, after researching other models, the majority of the Noragi Jackets out there do not have them so.
The Carmine Wave Noragi Jacket by AKASHI-KAMA is becoming one of my favorite tops to wear. It is made well, looks great, and is just fun to wear. I find myself leaving the jacket open most of the time instead of tying the two sides together with the front tie closure (complete with gold aglets). However, I can see people wanting to wear it closed and it would look just as good. That's what I love about the jacket, it can be styled so many ways. Putting together different outfits with this garment in mind can be quite enjoyable. If you are curious about getting a Noragi Jacket, this model and the other AKASHI-KAMA designs, will be a sure answer to your intrigue!
Founders: Miles Chinn, Nick O'Donnell, Hill Law
Based In: London, Hong Kong, & Shanghai
Getting to Know Akka Denim's Missions with Co-Founder Miles Chinn:
"Our philanthropic call to arms was in 2013 with the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh. Being advanced manufacturers, this atrocity was too much for us to process professionally moreover personally." -Miles Chinn
The Rana Plaza Disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh took the lives of 1,132 people while injuring more than 2,500. These people were taken too soon because the factory building, which did not meet safety regulations due to a poor foundation and illegal construction, collapsed. This atrocity is not an outlier either in the garment industry, as there have been more incidents reported in Bangladesh alone since 2013.
"Akka was created that very same week (of the Rana Factory Incident) with our vision is to support children's charities. These charities have been created to support people and local communities whose lives have been significantly affected as a consequence of today's global thirst for fast fashion."
The knowledge and teamwork of Akka Denim has really helped push their mission forward. The founders of the brand have been together since 1994 and have done everything in the fashion world: from distribution of luxury brands to founding big name streetwear companies (Evisu anyone?!).
Currently, the Akka Denim Team has launched their 2020 #OurchivFutur collaboration series by giving away the last of their fourth generation upcycled, selvedge denim to artists. They don't just leave the creativity up to others though, in 2016, Akka entered into the 2015-2017 Denim World Championships with the first ever, handwoven denim jeans! The jeans, which weighed in at 32 oz. (plus they did an unreleased 48 oz.), were truly one-of-a-kind! Watch the video below to understand how they made the (beautiful) monster!
"Akka is a next generation brand solely about helping others in the face of adversity, not just those living in poverty but equally supporting creativity and the arts. We are very proud of our ethos which is reflected in our strong denimhead community around the world."
The future is exciting for denimheads if companies like Akka Denim keep popping up to not only innovate, but to make the world a better place. The drive behind Akka is truly incredible and may they continue to have success and grow! Check out some of their current releases below:
*Photos from Akka Denim
About the Brand:
With a unique outlook on life and a love of vintage and Americana, Fam of Kerbside & Co. is very much his own person. While many of us search the internet and malls for the latest fashion trends, Fam is content with his old-fashioned Levi's 501s, Doc Marten's, and celebrity pinups. While most of us have bosses, Fam is running his own small company.
"I don’t like to conform to societal norms. There’s always a small group of people like me, just kicking about on the "kerb", observing people going about their rat race. I was never a part of the cool clique, nor a fan of mainstream thinking. I never needed a tribe to have a sense of belonging. I just prefer to do my own thing and push myself as far as I can get, individually." -Fam
Many people dream of leaving their day-to-day job to pursue something they are passionate about. Unfortunately, many of us are too scared of taking a chance and/or are in financial situations where the steady stream of income is needed. Even if people absolutely hate their job, stepping into the unknown is much more frightening than what they already know. What if I fail? What if I go broke? What if I cannot provide for my family? All these "what if" questions swirl around in our heads and cause us much anxiety. Fam is one of those brave, hardworking people who broke through the fog of fear to do what he wants to. Not what he was told or expected to do. Fam told me:
"I got tired of doing what I did for a living (I was in the media industry for almost two decades) and when push came to shove, I left. As simple as that. No qualms, no drama."
After traveling around, Fam decided to start Kerbside & Co. The idea for the company sprang from Fam's sketch of what a good pair of jeans would look like. After designing a blueprint, the Kennedy Model was born and Kerbside went from a single drawing to a career path.
The Kennedy Jean is one of Fam's staple items. The current model is made from 12 oz., unsanforized denim from Kurabo Mills. Once soaked, the jeans will weigh closer to 13.25 oz. Fam had to switch the model as the previous rendition, and the one I own, was made out of the White Oak Cone Mills denim from North Carolina. Unfortunately, that denim is no longer in production. (Although the looms are making a comeback with new denim on the horizon.)
One thing I love about my pair Kennedy's is that they had no break in period. The 13.0 oz. sanforized denim Fam uses is raw, but feels soft and not unlike stretch denim. The comfort is great because you get the sleek look of a new pair of jeans, the feel of an old favorite, and the quality of the more well known Japanese and American denim brands.
The simplicity of the Kennedy's is, ironically, what makes unique. These days, most high end selvedge denim comes with fancy branded hardware, back pocket designs, a leather patch, and reading material around the waist band. Don't get me wrong, I love all those things on a good pair of raw denim. It's just that the Kennedy seems to be a direct homage to the vintage jeans from yesteryear. They pay tribute to the men and women who wore them to their jobs everyday. Not to make a fashion statement, but because they needed a solid pair of pants to work in. No fancy bells or whistles needed, just true Americana.