Sugar Cane Brand
Sugar Cane is a brand owned by Japan’s Toyo Enterprises, Ltd., and its theme is vintage-inspired iconic American work wear from the first half of the 20th century. The aficionados in Japan refer to this period of American greatness as “the good old days,” and we have been the importing pioneer for Sugar Cane’s vision of “the good old days” since 2002 in the USA.
Sugar Cane is a brand best known, perhaps, for its selvage-denim DUNGAREES (not jeans). The word ”jeans” has become the vernacular for faux denim fashion wear that masquerades as the tough, classic waist overalls history made famous. You see, “dungarees” are what John Wayne and Gary Cooper wore when fighting off Indians and bad guys. Dungarees are what Marlon Brando and James Dean wore when fighting off girls. And it was dungarees that were worn when the depression-era farmer fought off the bank, the wartime steel worker welded the ships of victory and Mr. Jones entered the army. Until Sugar Cane, all we had were jeans …
Sugar Cane can trace its roots back to the 1950s with a denim company called Kosyo, though the Sugar Cane brand began trading as such in the late 1980s. It took Sugar Cane 20 years of hard work and research in order to create their own selvage-denim dungarees as perfectly as the great classics that spawned their inspiration.
The denim-making process began with a meticulously thorough analysis of all the denim goods from the late 19th century to the 1960’s. Each element in the production of vintage denim had to be completely dissected and learned: yarns, dyes, weaving, construction style, fit and technique, hardware and other components. Lab analysis of the denim and related yarns was part of the learning process, but this alone cannot yield the sort of perfection Sugar Cane sought. Hands-on experimentation with the vintage shuttle looms, both power looms and wooden, manually operated shuttle looms, was as important as any results from lab analysis of fabric and yarn structure. The looms that were obtained were very old and had fallen into various states of disrepair, so many hours and large sums of money were expended to get the machines into proper running condition, then even more time and money was spent learning how to operate the machines to produce the perfect vintage-style denim we see more routinely available in Japan today. The correct yarns are also very important in making perfect vintage-style selvage denim, as is the proper selection, blending, spinning and dyeing of cotton; over the course of many years, Sugar Cane was finally able to see success in their development of perfect vintage-style denim that looks rough and uneven on the surface and with warp yarns that that correctly fade like vintage specimens. Once the denim was perfected, the search was on for sewing shops and factories that still had access to the old sewing machines; the Sugar Cane philosophy maintains that truly authentic vintage-style selvage-denim dungarees can only be revived by the exact same processes and by using the exact same types of machines that produced the original vintage goods.
One of the most significant developments within the brand took place well after they had mastered the production of traditional denim articles made from 100% cotton; this development is what gave rise to the brand’s name and is at the heart of the brand’s pride today, hence the second type of denim offered by the brand – denim blended from cotton and sugar cane. Or, as the Japanese call it – Satokibi!
Sugar cane-blended fabrics are also used to create fabulous jackets and shirts, all of which yield incredible wear and fading over time, along with deep coloring and the intoxicatingly sweet scent of butter juice, thanks to a 50% blend of sugar cane in the fabric.
Today, Sugar Cane has immersed itself in producing a vast line of vintage-style work wear that includes shirts, trousers, jackets, caps, belts and other accessories. While certain items in the Sugar Cane collection are staples that do not change from season to season or year to year, most offerings are specially styled and developed for just one or two seasonal collections and not offered ever again so as to continually keep the collection in motion and the devotees of the brand in hot pursuit. Further Sugar Cane developments include their willing interest to produce collaborative styles with respected retail merchants, brands and designers using Sugar Cane’s renowned fabrication, manufacturing and design facilities.
By remaining true to the same original pursuit of simplicity and functionality that made the icons of Americana iconic, Sugar Cane has carved a respected name for itself and an ever-growing loyal following whom the directorship acknowledges as the most-significant force in their success.
Sugar Cane is not for the masses; it’s for those who can appreciate the myriad of nuances and character found in the finest single-malt scotch, the clearest, most colorless diamond or a handcrafted, centuries-old Persian rug.