NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Born and raised on the island of Hokkaido in Japan, Takayuki “Echan” Echigoya moved to the United States in the name of denim.
A passion for vintage jeans compelled him to begin making his own.
“Jeans are originally from the United States of America, so I wanted to make my jeans in America,” he said.
His love of vintage machinery placed him in New York City.
“I love Singer sewing machines, and the Singer sewing machine was originally based in New York,” he said.
He combines his loves of jeans, history, and machines at Bowery Blue Makers, his one-man shop devoted to bespoke raw denim, crafted by hand with help from the antique Singers.
One pair of jeans requires eight to ten machines, each reserved for a specific task like the hem or the buttonhole.
A pair of Bowery Blues takes six to eight hours to complete.
His old machines are inefficient and tend to break down.
“There’s no people who can fix [vintage sewing machines] in New York anymore because everybody retired, so I have to fix by myself,” he said.
He taught himself to repair each machine by reading instruction manuals, all written in his non-native English.READ MORE: More Violence On Subways: Police Say Tourist Hit With Bottle, Man Slashed In Separate Attacks
But to Echan, the challenge is worth it. Modern jeans are too flawless—he appreciates the character and individuality his antiques provide.
“I don’t want to make my jeans perfectly, everything the same. I want to give jeans more personality,” he said.
A pair of Bowery Blues will set you back anywhere from $480 to $1,000—a price point that reflects the great effort taken to manufacture them.
Echan controls each step of the process, beginning with the denim itself.
He selects American cotton, which he sends to Japan to be dyed and woven. His denim weaver, known as Mr. Kiyama, is an 80-year-old master of the craft.
“He’s using the oldest weaving machine in Japan, so he can make vintage-taste denim. I think he’s the number one guy in Japan,” Echan said.
Customers are fitted for jeans at Echan’s workshop by appointment, choosing the fit, fabric, and details down to the rivets.
“Every rivet I hand stamp by myself,” he said.
Bowery Blue Makers
335 Throop Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11221
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