Hanging from a series of suspended cables in the Tellason warehouse are a few pairs of “retired” jeans. These jeans lasted Tony Patella and Pete Searson, co-founders of Tellason, years. The beat-up denim is also a symbol of the passion that drives the two men: quality. We sat down with Patella to talk about his brand, the greatness of San Francisco, and what you should look for when buying a pair of quality jeans.
CM: You guys pride yourselves on the quality of your jeans. What are the things that go into that?
TP: It’s the quality of the components—the denim, the pocket material, the thread—and the sewing. Sewing denim properly isn’t easy and experience matters.
CM: The things you’re talking about sound like the same things that would have been mentioned decades ago, which makes sense for such a classic item. But are there innovative ideas that can be brought into making jeans?
TP: Not in my opinion. They’re considered “classic” for a reason—the moment “technology” is added to the mix, whether it be lycra, some wacky washing technique or solar panels, they cease being blue jeans and become trousers made from denim fabric.
CM: How important are the relationships with brands like Tanner Goods and others you work with?
TP: Very. In the case of Tanner Goods, they have become not only valuable business partners, but good friends. They really operate the ideal company in my opinion—great quality products made the right way in the right place by really nice people.
CM: How important is it that your jeans are made in San Francisco?
TP: It is extremely important to us and our customers around the world that our jeans are made in the historical home of blue jeans, San Francisco. That’s not to say that a good pair of jeans cannot be made elsewhere (obviously), but there is something that feels right about making them in San Francisco. As I’ve been quoted as saying before, I want prosciutto from Parma, Italy, not Germany.
CM: What is it that you love about your city?
TP: I love the fact that San Francisco has always been a place where people could be themselves and a place where no idea is a bad idea unless it doesn’t work. There’s a reason why almost every app on your smartphone comes from here. San Francisco’s physical beauty is also something special, although these days we could use less urine on the streets!
CM: Which pair of Tellason jeans do you wear the most?
TP: My most recent pair of jeans is our Elgin mid-rise slim tapered fit in our Cone White Oak 14.75 oz denim. This summer I’ve been wearing our Cramerton straight leg chinos quite a bit. It’s nice to have a button-fly chino in the mix.
CM: Alright, so let’s say someone who cares about quality is in the market for a new pair of jeans. What are the things they should look for?
TP: The fabric and the sewing. Commodity denim has a very different appearance than double rung spin denim. Check the stitches per inch and the bar tacks—low quality jeans have fewer stitches per inch and small, weak bar tacks on the belt loops and other areas. Of course any jean, regardless of price or quality, is a “poor” jean if it doesn’t fit.