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Fifteen Years of Take5

IMG_3158Last Saturday marked the fifteenth anniversary of Hong Kong’s premier denim outfitter, Take5.  In between diminishing rations at the open bar, I wasn’t able to capture much.  Nevertheless, the evening did teach me Benny Seki’s impact on the Asian denim scene.

Where Uniqlo undershirts and high-twists are a godsend for my suiting options, I’ve yet to crack the code on surviving May-September in jeans.  But this is a denim party, dammit!

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Due to the the internationality of Hong Kong and the respect given to Take5, enthusiasts and artisans from Moscow to Tokyo made their way towards Causeway Bay for the birthday party.  A monochromatic rainbow of indigo arrived en masse to the tune of equal diversity, as a local HK band shared the stage with Thai and Japanese guests.

Of the hundred or so in attendance, I had the pleasure of meeting a few notable figures of the scene.  Such as the hand that made this:

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On the breast and the back this Toys McCoy A-2 jacket are WW2 era designs, led by Bugs Bunny himself.  Though the composition and flaking of the design showcases loads of jarhead cheekiness, what’s most impressive is that this is, in fact, not a silkscreen as I had assumed.  This is 100% handmade, paint on brush.  Sometimes you can’t help but marvel at Japanese craftsmanship.

Also on display were several pairs of submitted pairs of jeans, of which one would be voted with best twist and fade.

IMG_3182As an entry-level denim enthusiast at best, I can’t begin to decipher the tell-tale signs of a good wear.  But a striking example of what the people at this event love about their raw stocks is this back pocket:IMG_3174

Unfortunately, I’m blanking out at the name of this maker completely, but take a look at the white arches that follow the stitching.  In order to achieve this, the maker actually roped a bundle of the fabric on the inside of the pocket.  As a brand new pair, you’d never see this little detail, but only after repeated beats around town and washes would the flourish emerge.  Another example of the great lengths that these brands will in order to get  it right, no matter how many may overlook it.

The star of the night, of course, was the man who made Take5, as well as the Hong Kong and very well the Asian denim scene what it is.  A quick look at their company history shares that Mr.
Seki and his co-founders at the time opened Take5 to a nascent market, and due to early struggles, all but Benny decided to move on from the shop.  Regardless of other perspectives, it’s difficult to deny Benny’s appreciation for the art of denim and genuine clothing. IMG_3294

It’s a point that I belabor, only because I admire – envy, now and again – these individuals.  But if you have a genuine passion for something, and you can make a career out of it, then why don’t you?  It’s an idea that I tend to oversimplify, but when it comes down to it, that’s what Benny did to make Take5 and get it where it is today.  I’ve met too many gentlemen who’s storefronts are testaments to this belief, and it makes me think, why the hell not?

In the meantime, I’ll take another glass of beer and jot down notes for my own empire.

Additional photos:

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