Employing time-tested techniques to contemporary cuts, Raleigh Denim has a personal stake in supplying a great pair of jeans, restoring vintage machinery from the early 20th century to get as close to handmade as possible, or in their words “non-automated”. The husband and wife team began in 2007 as more of a project. I sat with Victor Lytvinenko at booth 308 under The Tents at the PROJECT menswear trade show. “We just enjoy making things,” says Victor “and we really care about where things come from and how they come to be, in all aspects of design.” And their interests are manifold. From making furniture together, Victor translated an affinity for cooking into a stint at Nobu in the West Village and even spent some time at a vintner. “We love these elements of manufacturing and craft. I liked making wine because every season they were manufacturing but it was a limited quantity. There was this focus on making the highest quality thing that connected to the earth, connected to a place. Even the same grape grown on a different hillside or harvested by a different vintner would taste vastly different. And that’s how we approach denim.”
“We thought about what the ideal jean would be and it became fabrics made on looms from the 1930’s in Greensboro that paid attention to the past without looking backward.” The Jones Original is an exclusive from the legendary Cone Mills, a leader in textile manufacturing that is experiencing a resurgence from US-based brands. “We wanted to control the process from the fiber. From the cotton gin to the spinning mill, we worked with Cone to develop the particular weight, shade, and weave construction.”
With single needle stitching, two-pronged rivets, selvage details, and cross-hatching on the pockets that can only be accomplished by non-automated machinery and “takes way longer”, these jeans are a product of passion. “We hand sign every single pair. We’re really proud of what we’re doing here in North Carolina.” On display was a new pair of the Jones Original and one after two years of wear. The transformation was incredible. “It’s an unbelievably beautiful fabric. That’s what we love about denim. It evolves and gets more beautiful and is an expression of who you are.” In the creasing, fading, and stress points, it tells of the journey, not only of the wearer but of the brand and design that just gets better with time.