It has been years since Tanuki first released their Red Cast denim and I have been chomping at the bit for them to re-release it ever since! I have been very vocal about how amazing this denim is over the years, boldly stating that it is this denimhead’s personal favorite; the crème de la crème, the finest denim I have ever encountered.
I am told that I am not the only person to feel this way, and infact the brand has been begged by retailers and customers alike to bring this denim back. Fortuitously enough (with the interest of my review being a good one), there is actually a very interesting backstory on why Tanuki waited so long to bring this denim back, stay tuned for that later on..
Personally, what I have been most eager for has been for the Red Cast denim to make a come-back in my preferred Regular Straight cut, which is what I will be reviewing today.
Cut and Fit:
As always, there is no perfect cut. Just like a steak, there are many great cuts that will satisfy different appetites and cravings. My favorite cut from Tanuki is this here Regular Straight cut. The rise is comfortable, the legs are a bit more roomy and the hem is not dramatically tapered. The reason this cut satisfies my appetite most of the time, is because as a tall lanky, athletic dude, I’ve found that this type of cut balances out my silhouette in a way that I find most complementary.
Strong vintage vibes- love it!
A rise that balances comfort and appearance, gracefully avoiding the "diaper butt" look that some pairs have.
The jacket has a ~26" length for reference.
My opinion on sizing has not changed, so I am copy and pasting this excerpt from my last review.
I almost always choose one wash when I have the chance. I am well passed the novelty of soaking my jeans when I get them. I choose unsanforized fabric for the character it exhibits, not for the shrink to fit quality.
I have a very strict rule of thumb in choosing a size for myself when considering unsanforized denim (which is all I will ever wear, from now until the end of my denim days); size for the raw waist measurement, and the one-washed measurement for everything else. In this case, a size 32 works just great for me. I’ve tried 32’s and 33’s from Tanuki, and while the 33’s fit great to start, they always stretch out to be too large. Unsanforized denim, especially loose-weave denim like this, will usually stretch back out to at LEAST the raw waist measurement, and usually beyond.
*Note that in some cases only one-wash measurements are available, in this case, allow for an inch or two of stretch in the waist.
Be it a change of fit preference, or maybe it was just a bit of that famous covid weight gain, I decided to size up on this pair from a tagged 32 to a tagged 33. I did this blindly as Tanuki does not yet have a sizing chart for this pair at this time. This pair fit me tighter or as tight as my other pairs of Tanuki in size 32 do. I have been wearing these for a week or so now and they have definitely stretched a bit, but they do not exhibit the same amount of stretch that you will find in the ultra loose-weave secret denims for instance.
The following measurements were taken after a bit of a break in period to give you a better idea of what type of fit to expect.
Waist: 17.25" across
Front Rise: 12.25"
Back Rise: 14"
I will update this post with Tanuki's size chart when it becomes available.
The button holes were very tight and I've found the most helpful tool for stretching them out is this cocobolo burnisher.
The detailing of this pair of jeans is subtle and classic, as with all of Tanuki’s pairs, they don’t go overboard with gimmicky details. Their signature “NI” remains embroidered on the rear right pocket, symbolizing tradition and change all at once.
Love Tanuki's custom hardware.
The red thread on the coin pocket and the inseam are a nice touch.
Here is my old pair of Red Cast tapered, which really demonstrates the unique fading potential of this denim.
I am always a fan of branded denim rivets. It was this detail that inspired me to create my own branded rivets for my leatherwork.
Tanuki has not strayed from their signature blue herringbone pocket bags.
The Fabric and its History:
What is it that is so special about this red cast denim? I LOVE how this denim fades. I love how inky dark it is to begin with, and I love that there is a subtle, near indescribable quality to it that is just a little different than other modern fabrics out there.
Red Cast denim, like its green cast cousin, is dyed in a certain way that creates a slight red tinge in the fabric. It is most noticeable when compared to a regular pair of jeans, or especially when placed next to a green cast fabric, because the Red Cast fabric will appear to have a sort of purple hue. There are several methods to create this sort of color cast, but I am not sure what technique was used on this pair so I won't spread any potentially false information on the subject.
That said, most of my experience lies with Tanuki's original Red Cast fabric, and this new release has undergone some changes, and that's where things get interesting. When I asked Tanuki why the weft had changed from beige to grey, I didn't just get a basic response, I got a whole backstory about why it took so long for them to bring this denim back and a detailed reason for the changes in the denim.
The selvedge ID has also changed from salmon to bright blue, and here you can also see the difference in hem size compared to the tapered cut.
Shortly after Tanuki released their Red Cast denim, the denim master who created the fabric had retired. In line with Japanese customs, Tanuki decided not to create the Red Cast fabric again out of respect of preserving and honoring the denim master's work. Even through the pleading and begging from Tanuki's retailers and customers to re-release this fabric, they held firm on respecting the retired Master's creation and letting a sleeping dog lie, so to speak.
Fast forward to 2020 (this is where it begins to sound like a movie, is Netflix listening?) and the son of the denim master quit his job, this was in part due to Covid, but in truth Covid was just the push he needed to finally change his line of work. Toshi-San, daydreaming about working with his hands and finding purpose for his life, visits with his father, the retired denim master, and after a long discussion (which I would love to imagine involved some sake and beautiful panning shots of rolling hills), decides that he would follow in his father's footsteps and return his micro-mill back to working order. After the old man's retirement, this micro mill was left in rough shape, so Tanuki stepped in and invested in Toshi-San by providing him with the finances needed to refurbish the mill and the shuttle loom.
Now, though it would have been quite alright for the son to carry on with creating the red cast denim in the same manner as his father, many things have changed that made that physically impossible. Floods ravished some of the places where they spun their yarns and that had an everlasting effect on their production lines. Some of the specialty yarns that were originally created, like the slub yarn that was used for the original Red Cast denim could never be produced again, as those machines are lost forever. The father and son discussed extensively and decided that it was important for the son to not just copy his father's work, but to improve upon it.
The warp is made with a Texas cotton slub yarn, wheraas the weft uses a straight, yet textured yarn made from Australian cotton. It's this rare combination of different textures that makes the Red Cast so special. While the warp is exactly the same as it was back then, the weft has changed.
You might notice that the weft on the original pair used to be beige and now it is grey. The many wildfires in Australia disrupted the supply of cotton and they needed to dig deep to find the needed materials. Australian cotton is very fine and very soft, with a silk-like quality. All of the brownish cotton they received was far too dark, and hence they decided to change it to a grey-ish tone. The Red Cast denim always meant to pay a subtle homage to older denim and the fading potential therein. When Toshi-San experimented with different yarns for the weft, he found that the available brown tones were just too overpowering and so he decided to change the yarn.
The father and son actually describe the reddish tone as a dancer and the grey weft as a stage on which the dancer's movements are more visible, especially over time as the fading begins.
I may not be remembering accurately, because it has been a while since my faded pair of Red Cast denim was new, but I feel like this new iteration is significantly hairier. It is wild and has a life to it's own!
Approximately 16oz, this denim hits the sweet spot for me, 14 is too thin and 20 is too thick for daily wear for this denimhead, 16 is my goldilocks weight for sure.
Wildly beautiful fading potential.
I love the contrast of these fades on my original pair. It isn't overboard like some of the extremely fast fading denim fabrics, but some areas still maintain their inkiness. This denim somehow exhibits both high contrast, and vintage fades all at once! I cannot wait to see how the new pair fades with it's grey weft!
All of Tanuki's red cast pieces can now be purchased directly from the brand here.
Thank you Tanuki and Toshi-San for making this review possible. I am beyond honored by your trust in me to do this pair justice. And to the rest of you, Toshi-San is JUST getting started, this Red Cast fabric is truly just a toe dipped in the ocean in regards to what he is capable of, Toshi-San has his first original denim creation coming soon in the form of a jacket, and it is going to be something very, very special. (edit -Toshi-San's new "Amagumo" creation review can be found here)
Cheers my friends,