Trendy Japanese denim brand opens its first North American shop on Ossington

A unique new denim experience has just arrived in the city — and it’s going to give you a whole new perspective on jeans. Edwin on Ossington is not only the first of its kind in Toronto but also the brand’s first location in North America, giving locals the chance to experience coveted Japanese denim.

Founded in 1947, the Japanese-made denim company has outfitted customers across the world with premium selvedge denim jeans. The term selvedge is thrown around amongst Margiela Tabi-wearing folk as if it’s the holy grail of denim. And to be honest, they’re right.

“It’s the old way of making jeans,” says Balance Velasquez, divisional vice president of Edwin MIJ (“Made in Japan). The selvedge process means the denim is crafted on a shuttle loom, making a self-edge with every pass. This process ensures tightly bound seams which will stand the test of time. 

The Edwin team, after making trips to Japan to convince the team there that it was time to bring the brand to North America, set their sights on opening a showroom, inviting buyers from major retailers across North America to explore their range. However, after realizing how prime their real estate was, they opted to open Edwin’s first pilot showroom and retail experience, now open at 2 Ossington Ave.

Edwin’s core garments include four styles of jeans which vary from raw to relic.

The four denim styles are displayed on the main table.

“When customers come in here, we show them the dry jean first, which is our selvedge, 13.5-ounce proprietary fabric that Edwin puts together. When people come in this store, it should feel like you’re being totally immersed in the Edwin experience,” Velasquez says. 

The first pair in their line is the dry, followed by the wet which is still the same blend, but has been manufactured in a way that removes any initial discomfort when breaking in the pants. 180 days is the next pair, which is what Edwin has developed as a fully broken-in pair of pants, for those who want to skip the process. And finally is the relic, which is fully broken in and appears to have been faded and washed like a pair that’s been sitting in your closet for years.

The feeling of putting on raw denim jeans for the first time might feel wrong. They’re tight, they fight you with every step you take, and it feels as if anything else in the world would be more comfortable in that moment. 

But if done right, you’ve embarked on a potentially decade-long journey of watching a pair of pants grow, stretch, break and move into a second skin. 

If buying a pair of jeans that you’re initially uncomfortable in feels like one of those strange things that only fashion-obsessed people do, you wouldn’t be alone. But Velasquez it’s all part of the experience. 

“When people see the table, they get to see what their jeans will turn into. For someone who’s into watches, or building patina, or for anyone who’s into putting their personal touch to a product, Edwin lets you do that.” 

From day one, the team at Edwin is invested in your jeans story. If customers purchase a pair of raw denim jeans, they’ll stamp the date onto the interior tag so you can date the breaking-in process. And while they warn you that tighter is better in most scenarios, they ensure that you’re trading a few wears worth of discomfort for a decade’s worth of enjoyment. 

While the store sells products with the hope that customers form a bond with their jeans, they’ve already formed bonds with local businesses. The inviting aroma coming from their basement unit is courtesy of the Aesop store down the road, and the array of sneakers has been supplied by Size?, just a stone’s throw away.

Their most proud local partnership is with Woyote, a Toronto-based furniture company that’s supplied the coffee table and chair set that rests in the middle of the store. The interior brand uses Edwin as a showroom for their made-to-order goods, showcasing how liveable their products truly are. 

As Edwin continues their North American infancy, Velasquez and the Edwin team hope to build a community of denim lovers around Toronto. Velasquez also hopes to accrue so many pairs of beat-up, archive denim from local customers that he can run a collection of archived goods across their rafters. 

“The goal for me is that someone is living in them, and living their lives into them.”

Spoken like a true denim aficionado.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO