Tanuki had quite the interesting launch when they catapulted themselves into the raw denim scene a couple of years ago. On places like Superfuture, many denim enthusiasts were not fans of Tanuki’s marketing and mythos behind their brand and I have to admit that I agreed with this sentiment. Tanuki launched with some impressive looking fabrics and jeans, but they also launched with some marketing that I greatly disliked. They said that they are made up of “industry experts” that they would not name. To be clear, I do not like the mythos behind other Japanese brands that operate on the idea of mystery such as Oni either. I much prefer openness and transparency with my clothing and boot brands so brands that create hype through mystery are not my cup of tea.
Having said this, I cannot deny that I liked the look of Tanuki’s products. Indigoshrimp has done quite a few reviews of Tanuki jeans and not only did the construction look good, but the fabrics were also quite impressive in my opinion. In fact, the OnixTanuki 21oz fabric is one of the most beautiful fabrics that I have seen in pictures in my opinion and that is impressive as I usually do not like fabrics that are so extreme. At this point, the biggest aspect holding me back from trying out Tanuki was that most of their jeans were made with quite slim/tapered cuts. This is not as big of an issue for me now that I have lost 30 pounds since October, but before then, I was not about to buy any tapered jeans.
Having heard some of my musings about cuts on the Denim and Boots Podcast, Tanuki reached out to me and offered to send me a pair of earth denim jeans in their ‘regular’ cut to see how I liked them. I happily took them up on their offer and decided on size 36. Even though this was right at the cusp of my weight loss, I went with a larger size because I wanted the higher rise that this size offered. After a hot soak, machine wash, and tumble dry the jeans still fit slightly large even when my waist was 3” wider.
At the time of this review being published, I would say that the waist on these jeans is at least 4” too large. This is not a criticism of Tanuki. It was my own fault for choosing this size and I suppose that I was not sure how well I would do in my weight loss journey. I just want to point out that the jeans are too large because my fit pics don’t look perfect. The top block is clearly loose and their is a decent amount of hip flare in some of the pictures and in these shots I was heavier than I am now even. I am confident that if I had gone with a smaller size, these issues would not exist. The measurements of these jeans post-wash are as follows:
Front Rise: 12.25”
Back Rise: 15.5”
I did wash these in a washing machine on the hottest setting and then dried them in a tumble dryer on hot in order to obtain maximum shrinkage. Aside from the hip flare, I really like how these jeans look on me. The legs are actually fairly wide, but they don’t look baggy or loose. My biggest criticism is the rise. This is obviously just personal preference, but I would have preferred a much higher rise. These jeans are 3 sizes too large for me now and the rise is still not as high as I would like. It is only slightly low for my preference in the front, but it is definitely low for me in the rear. With a 12.25” front rise, I would expect at least a 16” rear rise. Keep in mind that the jeans were already too large for me in the waist. If I went with my correct waist size, the front and rear rise would be much too low. If that were fixed, I do not think I would have any complaints and I would probably really love this cut.
What I do definitely love is the fabric the jeans are made out of. Fabrics were always what had interested me in Tanuki. They were interesting and appeared to have great great texture without being gimmicky. This earth denim is probably my favorite of theirs aside from the Oni collaboration fabric. It is 18oz pre-soak and is quite rough in texture. Earth denim has been made with 4 different types of American cotton and while it is rough and slubby, but in my opinion, it is not going into gimmick territory like with some textured fabrics as the slubs are present, but not exaggerated and the denim is not very neppy.
The denim is fairly hairy and slubby with a rough texture. The texture along with the weight means that you can certainly feel how rough the jeans are when you wear them, but they are not uncomfortable. They just will not be as soft and pajama-esque as some other jeans. One other interesting detail about this fabric is that the weft has been cheese dyed beige. This is subtle, but noticeable and it does affect the overall appearance of the denim in a positive way, giving it a warmer appearance.
The other details on the jeans are quite strong. Tanuki has their own custom branded hardware which looks quite nice. Hidden rivets appear on the back pockets as expected and thicker chain stitching is used where expected and the v stitch makes an appearance on the fly. There are also quite a few different colors and sizes of threads used throughout the jeans. Yellow, orange, and blue make up the majority and given that Tanuki is a more modern style brand, I like their use of a non-tonal blue sewing thread, especially because they do not over-utilize it.
Tanuki’s patch design is quite simple, simply having the Japanese character for ‘two’ on it, but the deerskin used for it appears to be excellent. Additionally, the belt loops are raised and the bottom half are the back pockets have been lined, which I am quite happy to see. The pocket bag material is a nice herringbone fabric. It is not super thick, but not flimsy either.
Construction is overall good on these. The pictures show that it looks a little wavy in places, but part of this is due to the fact that these have been hot washed and hot tumble dried, shrinking up the fabric as much as possible. Still, It is not as neat and beautiful as jeans from Ooe Yofukuten or Roy. I would also put the best from RJB above these as well, but they’re roughly on the level of my PBJs and better than my Samurais (though I feel my Samurais are worse than most examples). The sewing is fairly dense and is quite neat. There are no major faults that I can see and there really is not much more to say other than they are well made jeans that fit into the high end category of raw denim. There is an inconsequential broken stitch next to one of the Universal branded hidden rivets, but otherwise, everything is in order. You can of course judge for yourself from the pictures. I would say the craftsmanship is on par for the price, especially given the details.
I have tried to wear these jeans quite often since getting them and having them hemmed, but I cannot wear jeans at work and therefore can only wear them in the evening at school or on weekends so they have not faded yet. Furthermore, as I continue to lose weight, these jeans are fitting worse and worse. If I am able to fade them more, I will post an update. Regardless, I really like these jeans. Aside from the rise, I quite like the cut and the fabric is a real standout to me.
My favorite fabrics are ones that have texture and character, but are not over the top and I believe the earth fabric fits that description quite well. People who know my love for Conners Sewing Factory may be surprised to hear this, but it’s true. While repro jeans have been my preferred style of jeans for quite some time now, my favorite fabrics are from brands like The Flat Head/RJB, The Strike Gold, Samurai and now Tanuki. If you are like me and prefer looser cuts, Tanuki does have one for you, though I believe it can be improved. If you prefer more modern, tapered cuts, then Tanuki has a lot of options for you. These jeans sell for $259.25 at the time of this review and are available at Tanuki’s website. Also, some detailed information was learned from Indigo Shrimp’s fantastic review of the earth denim. Please take a look at his review of the same denim in a different cut as he is the best denim reviewer out there in my opinion.
*Disclaimer* The above link to these jeans is not an affiliate link. I do not make a single cent for linking this product in my review. I now always link what I review and often link other products mentioned in my articles in order to help readers find products more easily, NEVER to make money for myself. Tanuki sent me these jeans for free, but I receive no money from them in any way. However, you can certainly feel free to take the fact that I received these jeans for free however you would like.