Mingei / Art without Heroes

Recently we visited the William Morris Gallery in London having spotted a poster for the Art Without Heroes exhibition, “a century of Japanese craft

Similar to the late 19th and early 20th century British Arts and Crafts movement that William Morris was part of, the Japanese equivalent is called Mingei.

Think everyday crafts practiced by ordinary people for their own use rather than profit; like textiles, printmaking and pottery.

We’re keen to soak up and learn more about the cultural background of Japan, especially since we’re now making some of our jeans using Japanese denim. The artisanal dyeing and weaving processes that make contemporary Japanese denim so good is part of a tradition that goes way back. In the exhibition we saw fantastic textiles, often indigo dyed, made up with sewing techniques like sashiko into work coats and household fabrics. There were also sublime wood block prints, magnificent ceramics and home furnishings.
The Americanisation of Japan after WW2 didn’t leave the country without its own identity. Jeans are a good example of this. Uncle Sam’s jeans were taken by the Japanese and improved using their vast experience of indigo dyeing and cotton weaving. The workwear blue jeans became a higher end product by improvements like selection of the best quality cotton and a mastery of selvedge loom weaving giving the denim a greater visual appeal and tactile finish.

We love learning more about our trade of garment production.

There are rich cultural histories behind even simple everyday clothes like jeans and jackets, shirts and boots. It’s a privilege to have a hand in the business of clothing that’s made with care. For people to enjoy living in and loving.

Go and see the exhibition for yourself, it’s on until 22 September 2024. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm with free entry. William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London E17 4PP

~ Ed