Today, there is undoubtedly a demand for American made premium denim. With fashion cycles getting ever shorter and styles appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye, many people are pushing against that trend and want classic denim that still retains the American born heritage of casual and work jeans and the authenticity that comes with it.
Over the past decade, several denim brands have emerged that reflect that ideal. Hard wearing, premium denim made in America using traditional manufacturing techniques rather than mass assembly line imported products. The following are some of the best brands focused on doing just that.
Husband and wife team Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough started Releigh Denim in their hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina in 2007. They learned the history and manufacturing techniques of traditional American jeans-making through a series of informal apprenticeships with factory workers, pattern makers and mechanics across the state, with all Raleigh products cut and stitched by hand in America. The denim used is all woven in North Carolina from American grown cotton.
Jones Original Selvage Raw Price: $285
You can visit the workshop where all Raleigh’s jeans are cut and stitched and see for yourself that the old-fashioned way of making clothes is still alive and well. Nestled in the front of the workshop they have also put together a curatory, which stocks Raleigh’s clothing lines as well as a range of leather accessories, stationery, award-winning chocolates, jewelry, and an assortment of other unusual finds.
Freenote Cloth was founded by brothers Matt and Andrew Brodrick. They were attempting to create a quality menswear maker inspired by America’s rich cultural heritage and reminiscent of their personal experiences growing up in America. It is headquartered in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano, a town born out of the rancho era of territorial California.
Rios Slim Straight Price: $230
All Freenote’s menswear is manufactured in America using durable materials and manufacturing processes, with the high-quality denim sourced from either Japan or North Carolina. All of the hardware that holds a pair of jeans together - brushed copper rivets and antiqued button tacks, is custom sourced from Kentucky. Somehow Freenote’s denim manages to add just the right amount of style to their genuinely solidly constructed jeans.
Baldwin was founded by designer Matt Baldwin, who had previously been running a successful Kansas City Boutique with his wife called Standard Style. Matt had previously been recognized as one of GQ’s top menswear designers of 2013 and was looking to create a denim line with classic American style but sophisticated, modern fits. Baldwin Denim is focused on bringing impeccable craftsmanship and design that still defers to the American legacy of hard working denim.
The Kennedy in MB04 Price: $330
While the focus will always remain on jeans, Baldwin Denim has more recently broadened its offerings to include tops, coats, jackets, shirts, knitwear, hats, and other accessories. In addition to its original store in Kansas City, it has also now opened a second store in Leawood, Kansas.
Imogen and Willie is another husband and wife founded company created with the hope of making the perfect fitting pair of men’s and women’s jeans. It created its flagship store in an old granny-white service station in Nashville, Tennessee. The success of their denim brand has led to the opening of two more stores in Los Angeles and Portland.
Elizabeth Indigo Rinse – High Rise Slim Price: $195
The company’s focus is really on fit, with one on one fitting appointments available to ensure people get exactly what they’re looking for in a pair of jeans. Imogen and Willie’s sewing team are also available to repair jeans so any rips, tears, pocket holes, or frayed hems can be taken care of to breathe new life into old denim favorites. Every pair of jeans sold also includes one year’s free repair.
Tellason is a men’s denim collection out of the home of American denim, San Francisco. It specializes in the use of Cone selvedge denim from North Carolina. Cone’s mills have been supplying premium quality denim since 1891 and its Selvedge denim comes finished with tightly woven bands running down each side that prevents the fabric from fraying or unraveling.
Tellason also uses using a leather patch from Portland’s Tanner Goods and all its products are sewn in San Francisco with a strong focus on attention to detail and make. While the co-founder Tony Patella is happy to admit that the world doesn’t need another denim brand, he is quick to point out that it does need one that is passionate about quality of product and integrity of distribution.
Jean Jacket – Selvedge denim 16.5 OZ. Price: $250
Tellerson has decided to remain faithful to boutique stores and shoppers by choosing not to pursue any department store distribution. He’s also comfortable saying that, “A consumer, for whatever reason, may not like our jeans, but there is no way they can criticize the fabric and sewing. As a brand, that’s all you can do.” Enough said.