Japanese society first came into contact with denim through the American soldiers who, when leaving Japan after World War II, left some of their belongings behind (among them jeans). Many of these belongings ended up being sold in street markets, and jeans attracted the gaze of many a Japanese during this time.
Since its emergence in the second half of the 19th century, denim was intended only for wearing in mining and other occupations in the US and it wasn’t until the 1950s that its use became widespread and made its appearance on the street and even on the big screen. In 1955 the popular film “Rebel Without a Cause” featured the outlaw James Dean in an attitude of defiance. Its aesthetic and other elements of American culture attracted the attention of many Japanese, whose tradition and culture, strongly rooted in effort, hard work, honour and values, made many of them look towards the USA in a quest for a more free-and-easy lifestyle, which led to the adoption of part of this American culture under the influence of film, music, motorbikes and clothing. This is how films such as “The Wild One” or “Rebel Without a Cause”, big Rock‘n Roll names such as Elvis Presley or classic motorcycles such as Harley Davidson became the standard of a Japanese counterculture that was here to stay and in which one icon stood out above the rest: Levi’s, the jeans made by Levi Strauss.