Let’s cut to the chase: Why are your jeans so expensive?
If you’re buying high-end jeans, you’re paying for the fit, fabric, and finish. Every little detail affects the overall price. The most obvious factor is the pure fabric cost. For jeans that sell for, say, $39, [the designer] is spending around $2.50 to $3 per yard in fabric, whereas premium fabrics go for $8 to $12 a yard. Right there, you’re tripling your costs.
And presumably your fabrics are even pricier than that?
For my handmade jeans I source from a really small, family-owned Italian denim mill. They only have 30 looms and they specialize in selvedge and pure indigo dyes. Basically, it’s the old way of doing things. These particular materials are $15 a yard—that adds up to $40 per jean in fabric costs alone.
But some of your jeans cost ten times that!
On top of the fabric itself, the wash of the jeans—the color and finish—can cost anywhere from $5 to $50 a garment. Let’s say I have a limited-run, deconstructed, patchwork kind of look. The wash on that can be $30. It’s rinsed and distressed, maybe I’m putting holes in, then going back to patch up the holes, then I’m hand-sanding, giving it another wash, and adding a top stitch over all of it. It’s time-consuming. Each pair takes me about four and a half hours, from cutting the fabric to washing to sewing on the labeling.
Does all that labor and fancy fabric equate to a better pair of jeans?
An inexpensive jean can wear out in six months, whereas I’ve been wearing some of my handmade jeans for a good eight years now.
So who’s your customer?
There’s a small group of people who are freaks about denim and have a real love of selvedge fabrics. For these guys, it’s not about money. It’s not even necessarily a status symbol, because my jeans don’t have some big standout logo. They care about the craftsmanship and attention to detail that makes each pair unique.