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Thursday, August 21, 2014

#Menswear: Stronghold Denim: America's Heritage

handmade jeans
selvage jeans
abbot kinney shopping

Do your jeans have history? I came across Stronghold Denim's gorgeous store in Venice Beach, California.   Walking into their space in the chic shopping street of Abbot Kinney Boulevard was like a trip back in time.

Stronghold was the first denim company to produce and Manufacture in Los Angeles.   They date back to 1895.  They supplied authentic work wear for those early consumers.  In the 1930's, you saw Stronghold jeans in movies like The Grapes of Wrath and Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.  The company closed in 1949.

Fast forward to 2004, entrepreneurs Michael Paradise and Michael Cassell took over the historical brand to revive the tradition of handmade craftsmanship.  The store has beautifully made hats, belts and of course jeans.  Old wooden display cases and jars of metal hardware serve as decor.  The jeans use old school indigo dyes for their fabrics.  If you take a look inside the garments they actually use selvage edge denim, something I have not seen in modern mass manufactured jeans (and I have researched MANY brands as a technical director). Selvage is the finished wrapped edge on finely woven fabrics.  While not necessary and fabric consuming (which is why no one does this anymore) the edge does give a high end look and feel of security at the seams.  These are one of the many details that you may not see from the outside, but if you care for such things, they matter.  It's kind of like having a cashmere lined trench coat sewn with silk thread.

The old folks are right.  In a time where fast, cheap fashion increasingly has taken over the world, I love to see a throwback to real artisan clothing.  

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