Photograph by Bowery Blue Makers
Jeans – with their standardized pockets, rivets, and denim – are so much a part of everyday wardrobes that they are easy to overlook. Yet, in workshops across the nation, independent makers are reevaluating the garment and creating jeans by hand, using antiquated equipment and denim woven on midcentury looms. Crafting Denim explores how and why jeans have come to exist at the intersections of industry and craft, modernity, and tradition.
A product of industrial factory production for over a century, jeans are being recast by a new cohort of small-scale makers including craftspeople like Ryan Martin of W.H. Ranch Dungarees, Takayuki Echigoya of Bowery Blue Makers, and Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko of Raleigh Denim, who favor choice materials and small-batch fabrication. The jeans they make merge craft traditions with industry and extend the conversation between hand and machine.
Each maker creates a distinctive product but shares a deep appreciation for materials, tools, history, and denim. These jeans are in dialogue with the past and in line with contemporary interests in sustainability. The small workshops featured here are sites of innovation and preservation, and visitors are invited to take a close look at an everyday item and imagine alternative contexts for making and living in our own clothes.