Tell us the story behind Jean Shop.
Jean shop was founded in 2003 by myself, Gene Montesano and Barry Perlman with the goal to manufacture classic timeless goods with the highest quality in the industry. For the first 13 years in the business, all of our products were manufactured in the USA with Japanese selvedge denim. Recently, we started designing and developing an additional selvedge collection that's imported but with same superior quality.
Selvedge denim has been a trademark of Jean Shop. Can you explain to us why this fabric is an integral part of the brand?
Selvedge fabric is an indication of quality and integrity. Jean Shop is the only brand that I know that uses 100% selvedge denim. We make selvedge jeans, twills, shirts and jackets. All of our fabrics are made exclusively for Jean Shop with our trademarked orange and white selvedge pattern. We currently have over 10 different selvedge finishes.
Jean shop is also known for its old-school methods of hand-distressing denim. What goes into this process?
Hand-distressing is a process that is literally done by hand on every pair of jeans. There are certain tools that are used to distress the hems of the jeans and to make whiskers, giving the jeans an overall vintage aesthetic. This is the old school way of manufacturing jeans.
You're collaborating with Club Monaco to create a men's denim line. What can we expect from the collection?
Club Monaco has been an amazing partner in this collaboration. We've been working with them to create some great exclusive men's products. We're especially excited about the 'beach pants' that's perfect for summer. It's a light denim that's hand-finished one unit at a time in our Crosby Street store in Soho.
How many styles, washes and finishes will be offered in this line?
Currently, we have two fits in men's bottoms with about six different finishes along with a wide variety of fabrications ranging from 5oz chambray jeans to 14oz denim.
What is the one thing most people don't know about denim?
It takes over two hours to manufacture enough selvedge fabric to cut and sew into a single pair of jeans — it is a very slow process. Another interesting fact is that when buying raw jeans, you should get them comfortably snug as they will stretch significantly after mutiple wears.
If you had to choose... raw or treated denim?
I strongly prefer raw denim because they become vintage looking jeans that fade, whisker, and distress in all the right places. They mould to your body when worn over time and become the most comfortable thing in your wardrobe. There is nothing like a worn-in pair of jeans that started out raw. It's a material that simply gets better with age.
What's the best way to personalise your jeans?
If you choose raw denim, you should wait as long as you can before the first wash. This will yield the best contrast and the most unique characteristics. Try not to wash them as frequently and, when you do, just hand wash with cold water and hang to dry.
Can you tell what kind of life a person has led from the way his denim is worn-in?
You can tell so much about a person from their jeans. We have jeans from a fashion photographer that are so worn out on the back of the knee because he's always crouching to take photos. We have another pair of jeans that looks like a painting tarp because the customer is an artist; and another where the back side is totally torn up and patched to the extreme — this customer is a bike messenger in NYC. Every vintage pair tells a story and is never worn-in the same way.
Why do you think denim is the most loved fabric in fashion?
It's a fabric that will never go out of style and has a way of making people who wear them look and feel good.
Other than jeans, what other classic denim pieces should everyone have in their wardrobe?
No wardrobe is complete without a great classic indigo denim jacket and shirt.
You've been in the trade for over 30 years. How many pairs of jeans do you own?
You'll be surprised to know that I don't have as many jeans as you would think after spending over three decades in the denim business. I would guess that I have about 30-40 pairs and most of them have a great story behind it. I've also accumulated a lot of jeans from the design process. Many times I make samples in my size to test the fabric out.
Do you have a most treasured denim piece?
This is a very difficult question because I don't have one favourite. I have many. Most of them are treasured because they're attached with specific memories. I've kept jeans from Ralph Lauren RRL and the Gap 1969 where I previously worked.
Available at Club Monaco, #B1-41, Ngee Ann City, 6732 1767