Back in the 1870s, Bavarian-born American Levi Strauss invented blue jeans as a utilitarian wear, weaving threads with cast-irons shuttle looms to create denim. It wasn’t long before the workwear aesthetic caught on to people, and by the ‘50s and ‘60s, it exploded to become a fashion item synonymous with the cool kids such as James Dean and Marlon Brando.

To keep up with demand, new weaving techniques had to be created. Denim became mass-produced and lost its charm in America. However, the Japanese had quietly preserved its manufacturing process throughout the years, so when the denim trend resurfaced in the ‘80s, the fashion world was jaded by the American’s run-off-the-mill jeans and instead looked towards the East for their denim fix.

Till this day, the high-quality Japanese fabric is still created from old-fashioned shuttle looms, with selvedge being the most popular type of denim. The self-finished denim is characterised by tightly woven bands running down each side that prevent fraying, raveling and curling, and you’ll see this on many Japanese denim products because they’re stronger with a more intense weave.

If your denim label vocabulary is only limited to Levi’s, Wrangler and Gap, it doesn’t mean you can’t step into — pun intended — the exclusive world of Japanese denim. These five cult labels not only still use traditional weaving and dyeing techniques, they also create some of the most covetable silhouettes you can own now.