The guys couldn't have been nicer. Parker was leaving as I was heading in - lucky man had his ordered in the last of a really cool Japanese denim, I forget which.
The brothers are obviously passionate about denim, explaining the heritage of each bolt, from 60s American Cone mills deadstock to a really cool, outrageously soft denim they called reverse twill, which looks like herringbone but is twill in that they weave it left a quarter inch, then turn it around for another quarter inch, and so on. A shirt in this fabric would be amazing.
Also learned that the Japanese dug denim but found the right twill to have too dry a hand. They bought American Cone mills, wove it left, and bam - a softer jean, and the rest is history.
I was gonna go all-American but the guys convinced me otherwise for my first pair. I ended up choosing a 14.5 oz Japanese denim that John himself was wearing. He showed me some that he said Union Made folks go crazy for, a really stiff denim that he says "stands up with no legs in it." Cool, but maybe for later.
In describing the difference between the American made & Japanese made denim, he said that American made denim is more robust - a denser weave with generally more threads per inch, and a more uniform twill. "They take pride in saying it lasts, and it does outlast Japanese denim, both the dye and the fabric." It wears forever and that is the true American jean, durable and good looking, the kind that Steve McQueeen and Paul Newman wore in the 60s. He loves it.
However, he also waxed on about how the Japanese denim encapsulates "wabi sabi", which has the idea of "perfect imperfection." Compared to American made denim, it's not nearly as uniform, and therein lies its charm. Also, the Japanese are much more creative with their dyes and finishes. For example, he showed me a really cool bolt where the underside (weft) was undyed and dipped in mud (yep, mud), and the warp on the outside, which was a deep indigo, had a black finish. The result was an almost black indigo, which is cool enough, but its real character will develop over time - as the jean wears and creases, it'll change from dark indigo to deep blue to brown to white.
Anyway, I'll go in for my first fitting in about a week. Can't wait.