I was down to one pair of jeans: they were delegated DIY wear and covered in paint. So my ears pricked up one day listening to a man called Han Ates being interviewed on BBC4
On checking his website, Blackhorse lane Ateliers, I found 4 styles of Jean, each named after a London post code: all for men.
I made a call to ask why. “Ahh”, they said, “we’re working on two new styles for women right now and if you sign on to one of our master Denim courses you can tailor your own with one of our patterns.” This was an opportunity too good to be missed. A two day course with delicious lunches thrown in? I signed up. The below link will give you a taste of the dedication and passion I encountered.
If you’re fed up with thrown together, high cost jeans, made for insects, then making your own, with the best quality materials, under expert tuition, is the way to go.
The twelve others of the group came from areas as diverse as acting, fire fighting, apprentice tailor and Deli owner and a Dutch, minor fashion industrialist. All were passionate about taking the time to achieve a personalised item, emanating quality. We learnt quickly against a backdrop of humming machines, the clip, clip of scissors and the colourful language on having to laboriously unpick seems. Three meters of selvaged denim and a pattern of rigid cardboard pieces to mark around, immersed us immediately in the workshop vibe. Next came the fashioning and pinning of the front pockets, complete with coin pouch. After the most delicious lamb kebab and almost too full to move, I managed to fit my beautifully crafted one piece fly (An Atelier speciality) and have the Jeans front ready by close of day.
Forget those Japanese names, Big John, Blue blue Japan, Momotaro; Blackhorse, made in London are the jeans to have. Today we moved on to the back Jean area and the chance to stamp our mark with the seaming and placing of the back pockets. Rivets, concealed rivets? single or double seam? Seam within the confines of the pocket area or spilling out of it? and the motif on the pocket itself? extra minimal with nothing at all or over-the-top with a fish?
This was also the time to make precise alterations to the bum and hip area to insure a tailored fit. At last my jeans were coming together and it was time to seam up the legs and crutch.
The rear, somehow being longer than the front, needed stretching and an immense amount of pinning to ensure even leg length. Folding in and stitching was tricky and when it came to the final outer seam I have to admit I smarmed up to a technician to do it for me. The technicians stepped in to help everyone with three key parts of the process.
The waist band is done with a tubular sleeve, in to which the denim strip is sucked through, coming out perfect at the other end. Meanwhile the rivet machine, capable of removing an untrained hand in a split second, was left to another technician to deftly apply the shiny copper elements. The belt tags after being placed and pinned by us were also sewn on with specialist equipment. Finally, we stitched the leg end seams and the thick leather emblem was applied to the waist band.
How would they fit? with mixed emotions I made my way to the loo and pulled them on. A big smile came back at me as I looked in the mirror, they somehow made me look thinner and felt like no jeans ever felt before. They were meant for me. Like old friends. Beautiful.
As I walked back to the group everyone was wearing their new jeans and wide smiles. All were happy, no one less so than the man, Han. My thanks to him and all his men.
A great weekend and a great result.