We reckon it must be really hard for a new brand to break into the denim market. Like sneakers, us folk like to keep things classic and simple—sticking to the big time players, the ones that have blisters on their blisters, and have been trimming blue cotton since time began. So how does a new or small company actually create a bit of traction and convince people they should put down the Levi’s and Wranglers of the world and buy into something which could cost more, and be unchartered waters?
With an honest approach, meticulous designs, and the highest level of brand-to-customer interaction it can be done. Here are six companies doing just that.
England isn’t known for its denim, but one thing is does pride itself on is craft and textiles. So it makes perfect sense for these two things to come together, to create a product which fits the bill for the modern day. Dawson Denim fills that niche perfectly—a result of 15 years working in the denim industry. Taking inspiration from the past, and the golden age of motoring, Dawson’s hardwearing selvedge can be found stocked across Europe, Japan and the US. Link
Hailing from a small town in Wales, with a rich history in denim production and manual labor, Hiut Denim set about bringing jobs back to the area. Back in the day the town would see 35,000 pairs of jeans created each week, but one day that trade ran dry. The factory closed. A few decades later one local entrepreneur decided to rebuilt the town’s indigo roots. Hiut’s moto is to “Do One Thing Well,” which has lead them to create some of the finest jeans you’re likely to find. And jeans is all they do. Link
It’s became a known deal that Japan knows a thing-or-two about making awesome denim. When the majority of factories traded in their old equipment, back when jeans were becoming a more mass-market produce in the ‘70s, the Japanese bought up all the American machines for a cut price. The quality of denim slipped across the world, but Japan was left to create their denim in the original way. We could pick any number of Japanese brands to profile here, but we’ve chosen Kapital—named after the city of Kojima, affectionate named the “Denim Capital of Japan.” Link
Along with Kapital, one of the other standout names from the Japanese denim scene is 45R. From start to finish, each 45R garment has been hand-dyed, weaved and stitched in Japan, using natural plant dye, those old looms and years of garment construction experience. Each roll of cotton that 45R use is dyed twice a day for two weeks, using their signature Ai-indigo, which creates a long-lasting, rich color. This creates a more natural fading and wearing processes, given them their unique lived-in, laundered appearance. Link
3sixteen might well be a familiar name to some. If you chat to folk interested in denim, then it won’t be long before the name pops up. Founded just over a decade ago, 3sixteen don’t profess to be a global force-type brand, rather, they pride themselves on jeans that’ll kick ass for longer than a few rough winters. Using denim directly from the Kuroki Mills in Okayma, Japan, and constructed in the US, 3sixteen offer a hearty range of selvedge denim in classic fits, across several weights. Link
Raleigh Denim Workshop
Now these guys are right up there at the top when it comes to a “Do It Yourself” mentality. The Raleigh Denim story is a simple one: create the best jeans possible, and do it all from your own home. Using the knowledge that the husband and wife team gained from a series of informal apprenticeships with factory workers, patternmakers, and mechanics throughout North Carolina, they followed their passion to create small batches of premium denim. A lot of inspiration can be taken from their attitude towards design, detail and retaining those old school values. The small details on their products—red chainstich hem, hand-signed pockets— are insanely intricate. Link