Tanuki believes in innovating the application of traditional denim making methods. These denim makers said they needed “Tanuki,” a very traditional Yokai that brings good luck and prosperity and is a symbol of transformation. They naturally called that project Tanuki. This within a very traditional industry had to be done in small steps first, beginning by testing small changes to successful fabrics and cuts of the past.
We are really all about the fabrics. The people involved in Tanuki are running or working at various types of mills, including some micro-mills. We don’t depend on one supplier but different team members create or modify fabrics for Tanuki in different mills. These mills are run by people who have been weaving denim for ages now, so their experience is Tanuki’s main asset. The advantage of having people in the team involved in fabric production directly and working with smaller mills also is that we can make fabrics exactly like we want them to be, without any short-cuts. For each fabric we select the types of cotton carefully, experiment with different staple lengths and dyeing techniques and then go through a trial and error process to find the right settings on the shuttle looms to create fabrics with the desired character. It’s a time consuming process and one of the reasons why we do not produce a lot of fabric and consequently apparel. We wish we could do it quicker, but Tanuki has its limitations in terms of quantities it can produce and the denim makers wish to keep the production process highly controlled.