The Bollega Project is an initiative that strives to restore Fukuyama people's pride in denim jean production and increase tourism in the city, through custom-made jean making tours.
🚌 The project takes visitors on a two-day (or more, if needed) tour of making their one and only bespoke denim in Fukuyama. The tour is partially educational, and requires visitors to stop by each factory and see for themselves how Japan's world-class denim is made.
👖 Visitors get to choose each part for their bespoke jeans - cotton, threads, buttons, fabric (from over 1,000 choices), you name it. Visitors also interact with the manufacturers who make the jeans that end up on most of the world's best-known fashion runways.
🛍 The jeans come for the price of 1.1 million yen (~$8,000 USD), with a lifetime maintenance service. The money is split among each manufacturer and a portion is allocated for emerging local designers and artists.
About Fukuyama denim
For over 400 years, Fukuyama in Japan's Hiroshima was a small city where workwear was produced using indigo dyeing. With the introduction of western clothing, local produce gradually switched to denim, using natural indigo dyeing. Local firms in Fukuyama were involved in denim production — from thread-making, indigo-dyeing, fabric manufacturing, and design. As most of the products were made for large corporations, away from the public's eye, younger people were beginning to feel as if they were working for an industry that's not fulfilling their effort — no one really knew they were behind the making of some of the world's most renowned brands. To add to that, Fukuyama — despite its natural allure and proximity to Japan's Inland Sea — is a city that's hardly ever listed in most guide books.
📸 Photo credits: Shiitake Creative shiitakecreative.jp/home-en
How much would you pay for a pair of jeans — if you knew that you were investing in the revival of an entire town? A recently launched project from Japan suggests a whopping price of 1.1 million yen (roughly 8,300 USD).
I just came back from the second visit to Fukuyama to learn about this project. While I can't certainly afford these jeans, it was really eye-opening to see, firsthand, how some of the world's top-quality jeans are made — and meet the people involved in the process of making them.
Here's a short video we made about it:
The project, mainly targeting the luxury market, is a bold initiative in a country like Japan, where big and daring are not always words of praise. But the lessons it sends - at a high cost, duly noted - reflect not only on how we approach fashion but also how we approach and value craftsmanship and human labor. As well as how we create businesses that people can be proud to be associated with.
Would you pay so much for a pair of jeans if you could afford it?!