Media coverage touting Evisu's first collection designed by their new CEO and creative director Scott Morrison has been hard to miss. Looking back to the pre-WWII selvedge Levi's and Hidehiko Yamane's obsession with them that originally inspired him to found the brand in 1991, the widely-circulated story is the good ol' brand heritage angle—one that boils down to Morrison's return to a less embellished but still highly stylized look.
In efforts to regain the market that ditched Evisu when it, "got overly colorful, got cartoonish, [and] started showing up in Hype Williams music videos," as Men.style.com put it, Morrison refines the cuts of the original Evisus and introduces meticulous distressing for a perfectly worn-in look that involves days of hand finishing including using vaseline and baking them in ovens, among other techniques. When asked about the inherent irony in the of-the-moment pre-distressed look, Morrison replies, "It's a double edged sword because in an ideal world, I'd love to just offer Henry Ford models to everyone, so you can get raw [denim] or fuck off. But at the same time I know it's not going to work. You're trying to do both things."
While applying high-concept fashion to the humble American classic isn't new ground, the former Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn designer brings expertise, a passionate knowledge of his field and knows where to give due credit. Morrison recently took some time to tell CH all about it—from the early replica movement to his vision today—at Evisu's revamped Soho showroom.
Now completely disassociated with Evisu Japan (when ownership shifted three years ago, they bought the worldwide trademark minus Japan), Morrison started by stripping out the gold columns, red and black walls with dragons and logos in favor of a more pared down aesthetic. "We tried to whitewash everything literally and figuratively," he explains, the idea being to put the jeans first, rebuilding "from that foundation to make the best denim products in the world."
The approach starts with a subtle modification to Evisu's recognizable back pocket gull in tribute to the ones Yamane hand painted on his first 14-pair collection, which themselves referenced the wartime rationing that led to the lack of stitching on the 1944 501s that started the whole thing. (Stores in Japan still hand paint them today.) Morrison's gull of course mimics what happens as it fades over time, "something that I would actually enjoy wearing rather than something that's really in your face" and staying "true to the story of what a jean would look like had you bought it abroad and then worn it over time."
Read a little more and see lots more detail shots, as well as the four new pairs, and images from "Tateoti," Evisu's book documenting worn-in denim that Morrison turned to often in reinventing the brand, after the jump.