If you’re a denim fanatic, you’ve probably been there before: Your favorite pair of jeans, the ones you maybe paid a little too much for, the pair that you wear at least three times a week, gets a hole. And you’re devastated.
It happened to Solomon Liou enough times that he decided to do something about it. He founded Parke, a line of selvedge denim created by a decades-old technique: Each pair of jeans is made from one continuous thread and ends up with a natural, unfrayed, edge.
“Prior to WWII, this is how most denim was made,” he told ABCNews.com.
These days, most denim is made with thousands of threads, which means the ends of threads get frayed and the whole fabric becomes less durable (and more hole prone).
Parke jeans also have bi-directional stretch, which means the fabric adapts to your body’s movements throughout the day and literally molds to your figure. “Not only are they very durable, they’re very comfortable,” Liou said. “We want you to be able to wear these jeans for years and years.”
Liou, 32, didn’t start out as a fashion designer. A New York City native who has held jobs in finance and tech, he started sewing his own jeans out of dissatisfaction for what was on the market.
“I bought a sewing machine, I took sewing courses in the Garment District,” he said. “It started as a hobby and a passion.”
When his friends began asking him to sew them a pair or two, he knew he had a business on his hands. But he’s committed to keeping the same ethos that he had at the get-go: Made in New York, close to home, so he can be deeply involved in production.
“I work directly with one of the oldest denim mills in the U.S.,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of knowledge you get by walking into your own factory, by seeing how things are getting made yourself, and being able to make changes.”
Denim enthusiasts can spend hundreds of dollars on selvedge jeans: Ralph Lauren, Vince, and Rag & Bone have them on the market for more than $200.
To keep costs down, Liou is cutting out the middleman. He’s seeking funding on Kickstarter so he can sell direct to the consumer at wholesale prices, $125 per pair for men and women. He needs $50,000 to get production started, and with seven days of his campaign to go and more than $42,000 raised, his mill should start humming very soon.
Marshal Cohen, a fashion industry analyst with the NPD group, said Liou’s unconventional approach could pay off big for both his brand and denim lovers.
“Anytime you can sell direct to the consumer in this environment with the right message, you’ve got a huge advantage,” he said. “Everybody knows that not all denim is created equal. The ability to keep the integrity of the product by having someone watch the production, by not farming it out, it tells a good story.”
Right now, Parke offers just one wash – a deep, dark blue rinse – and six different styles. Liou hopes to expand the line to include multiple colors and fabrics, and after that, shirts, blouses and blazers. But one place he doesn’t plan on going: a department store.
“Our goal is to be able to sell things effectively online ourselves and bypass traditional retailers,” he said. “I do think that the next Ralph Lauren of the world is going to look really different from what it is today. It’s going to be online first.”