JWJ Brand: Spain’s Upcoming Denim Artisans
With Iu Franquesa of Barcelona’s Companion Denim, Spain seems like the next big place for small denim labels. Based on the small Mediterranean island of Mallorca uncle and nephew Jose ‘Pepin’ Vives (left) and Jose Luis Vives (right) have blended Japanese fabrics and old American styles with a touch of their local Spanish flair in their brand, JWJ.
With the founders a generation apart, each of the Vives brings a different background in their approach to denim. Pepin was born in the late 1940s, during the oppressive rule of Spanish General Franco, he bought his first pair of jeans as smuggled contraband after seeing the film West Side Story. He worked mainly as an antique buyer but worked a second job as a shoemaker, it wasn’t long before he began to make all of his own clothing.
Luis, thirty years Pepin’s junior, began his work in film and music, concurrently studying film and playing in several bands. Just like his uncle, cinema inspired his first connection with denim.
Although they’ve had plenty of experience tailoring and working with clothes in the past, JWJ is their first brand and they’ve been producing samples and perfecting their designs since October of 2013.
Admitted fans of other small denim manufacturers like Mister Freedom and Roy, JWJ’s designs tend to be more historically inspired. They’ve pored over books of old western clothing and recovered pieces, picking out their favorite details to incorporate into their own designs.
“Our works are inspired in the roots of worker and denim clothes,” Says Pepin, “We document all our designs in the past sources, but the sight of our eyes have changed since Mr. Strauss began. Some small adaptations in lines, drops and sartorial cuts are the instruments that we use to give a little twist to old designs.”
When we had the pleasure of meeting Pepin and Luis at Denim by PV they were wearing two of their earliest samples, cinch-back jackets made of Nihon Menpu’s sugarcane/cotton blend denim fabric. The brand’s Spanish touch comes from the silk-blend ikat fabric that lines each jacket’s collar.
They weave the fabric themselves on nineteenth-century shuttle looms on the island of Mallorca. See a video of their weaving process below:
Pepin and Luis are just about to begin production on their first run, which will include the jackets as well as jeans, vests, and shirts. All are planned to be released in early 2015. They also look forward to producing pieces in other traditional fabrics like Harris Tweed and veg-tanned leather soon.
Keep track of the latest developments with JWJ Brand on their tumblr.