Self Edge Denims

By AYAKO MIE

Shoppers on Valencia Street appeared to be tightening their belts at nearly every store except Self Edge, where they were slipping into pricy Japanese-made jeans. 

“It is weird to say that it has never been better, because I know the retails are dead,” said Kiya Babzani, owner and jean designer of Self Edge at 714 Valencia Street.

Self Edge Denims

Sales increased at least 20 percent in December compared to the same period last year, he said. Surprisingly the jeans are neither cheap nor used. Self Edge jeans cost at least $200, and their best-selling item is a $310 pair.

“Everything we sell in this store is exclusive to us in North America. There are no other stores that sell what we sell,” said Babzani, who started Self Edge two and a half years ago. “So we have no competition.”

Babzani, who fell in love with Japanese indigo, said he collaborates with Japanese vintage denim makers like Works and Toyo Enterprise. These companies produce the denim brands Iron Heart and Sugar Cane which are sold in the store. Babzani designs the jeans exclusively for Self Edge, and the jeans are handmade in mom-and-pop factories in small Japanese towns.

Peter Hadden, a medical service assistant from Foster City, said Self Edge is the only store where he can buy these Japanese brands. “Self Edge is bringing in products that I’ve only seen in Japanese magazines or websites,” said Hadden, who shops at Self Edge at least once every other month, and has six pairs of Self Edge jeans.

Kiya Babzani, owner and designer of Self Edge

Babzani said that while shoppers are often put off by the price the first time they step in the store, many eventually come around. “Once we get to talk to the customers and explain that these jeans are handmade in very small factories in Nagano, Japan, they understand our quality,” he said. “If they don’t, it doesn’t really matter because we are a small store.”

Babzani said the production costs for a pair of their jeans runs $65-$85 a pair, compared to $8 a pair for mass-produced jeans. He said Self Edge uses a vintage chain-stitching machine to hem the jeans.

Hadden said the economy has made him more cautious, but he’s still buying Babzani’s jeans. “As for spending $300 on a pair of jeans, for me it’s quality and craftsmanship behind the products,” he said. “I know I’ll end up with a good quality product that I can probably pass down from generation to generation.”

Chad Robertson, who runs Tartine Bakery nearby, agreed with Hadden. “Quality is superior and service is professional,” said Robertson, who recently purchased a pair of jeans from Self Edge. Kiya [Babzani] is keen on collaborating with his Japanese suppliers to make small runs of jeans that are exceptional and hard to pass up.”

Babzani said the economy was likely to hit his business as well, but he remained confident. “I always believed that if you sell something that is truly unique, you are going to be successful,” he said. “I am doing something right.”

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4 Comments

  1. I’ve been shopping here since it opened over two years ago and it’s turned into the ONLY place i buy clothes.. i’ve lived in the mission before all the fancy places came in and i can firmly say that this spot is a welcome addition to the hood…

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