Kapital Denim: A Father-Son Project
Toshikiyo Hirata founded the denim company now known as Kapital in the year 1984, when he returned from America after many years spent teaching karate and learning about the manufacturing of denim. Years later, his son, Kiro, would make a similar trip to the United States, where, like his father, he would absorb the techniques and insights of American fashion and then return to Japan to put them to use in his own garments. The father-son enterprise, originally called “Capital,” a reference to the city of Kojima, was renamed to Kapital after Kiro came aboard. And Kiro’s rebrand is a wry twist that underscores the brand’s deep engagement with the patterns and style that have characterized the economic history of the working class in Japan.
The Okayama Prefecture in Japan, where Kapital is based, is a hub for the denim trade worldwide.The brand has steadily made a name for itself there, not through runways and the traditional avenues of high-fashion branding, but by consistently releasing outstanding denim in a style that cannot be matched. Kapital’s style owes to its founders’ simultaneous fascination with American denim manufacturing and traditional Japanese approaches to dying and stitching fabric. In Kapital, Japan and America, two of the world’s most accomplished manufacturers, achieve a stylistic synthesis.
What Makes Kapital Jeans Different
As we have written about elsewhere, methods like traditional Boro stitching or the use of persimmon juice for dye add a layer of complexity and critical depth to tried-and-true approaches to denim. What makes Kapital unique is the way it has found a place in the high-fashion community without committing to the traditional paths followed by other high-profile designers. Kapital is simply a manufacturer of extremely high-quality denim. It offers jeans that it releases at far below the price point of designers like Issey Miyake, who is now often mentioned in the same breath as Kiro and Toshikiyo. Despite its small size and its lack of runway shows, Kapital has vaulted itself into the same league as Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo, a feat that sets its apart completely from the other brands of our day.
At the core of the Kapital aesthetic is the blending of opposites, the reconciliation of differences—the past and present, the young and the old, and the East and the West all meet and form a new synthesis in these fabrics.