DISTINCT LIFE: When was Detroit Denim Established?

ERIC: Always been into denim. Mother was a home-economics teacher and I learned to sew at an early age. During high-school I was always modifying or altering my jeans. That’s when it started – over 20 years ago in the 80’s. Officially, Detroit Denim has been in business since 2008. It began as a personal challenge to get the best fitting and looking (men’s) jeans I could get that were 100% US-made. I wanted to oversee every part of the process. I contacted many people in and outside of the denim industry and did a ton of research to see how jeans were being made. I took notebooks full of notes and finally started with my first crude jean pattern in 2008 – following several current methods of jean making and developing a few of my own along the way. The actual Detroit Denim incorporation started in late 2009 with the LLC being granted in 2010.

DISTINCT LFIE: Is every component of DD produced in Detroit?

ERIC: Actually relatively few of the components are produced in Detroit. For example, denim is only still produced in just a few places in the US anymore – all of which is from the Southern States. The jeans are hand-made in Detroit, but most of the materials are from outside of Michigan. Every part of the jean is from the US, however. Here is a short list of where each component is from:

  • Copper buttons are from Connecticut
  • Main top copper button is machined from a local shop just outside of Detroit
  • Top-stitch jean thread is from North Carolina
  • Leather is from Chicago and is stamped in my shop.
  • The hand-hammered copper rivets are from various US sources
  • Cotton Selvedge denim is from Cone Mills in North Carolina.

DISTINCT LIFE: Where do you see DD in the next 5 yrs?

ERIC: That’s a good question. The primary objective of Detroit Denim is to make the absolute best jeans using domestic materials with the result being a jean that is extraordinary to its owner. This doesn’t come easily by today’s standards. Most people are used to buying far less expensive mass produced jeans made overseas with imported denim and produced with automated machinery. The goal for Detroit Denim is toward design aesthetic and quality over size and market share. That said, I hope to apply the same principles of aesthetic and quality toward a few denim-related accessories such as bags and belts to eventually expand the Detroit Denim product line. I envision DD will have its own downtown bricks & mortar store and factory within 5 years. I also see DD jeans being sold at select men’s clothing stores throughout the US.

DISTINCT LIFE: What do you hope someone gets out of purchasing a pair of your denim?

ERIC: I personally couldn’t be happier with the results of the final product. The jeans are dark and stiff when you first begin wearing them (as many jean enthusiasts would expect). No distressing or washing to ‘break-in’ the jean – that’s meant for the wearer to do. The fit is semi-slim and minimal. The copper rivets are hand hammered for strength and minimal profile. The top button is machined from a solid copper rod and attached with a machine screw. The stitching is tighter (thus stronger) than standard jeans. All of these details make a Detroit Denim jean that gets better each time it is worn. I would expect that someone buying a pair of Detroit Denim jeans would have the same experience.

DISTINCT LIFE: What was your main objective when creating this company?

ERIC: Make jeans that I would like to wear. With attention toward every detail questioning the material and manufacturing of every step. I figured there would be a few others that might feel the same way.  It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make a jean that will please everyone, but then you end up disappointing the very people you are making jeans for. Also, it was important that the jeans be made locally. Detroit has given the world so much in terms of creativity, technology and design and I wanted to help continue that tradition. The people and resources here have been better than I expected.

DISTINCT LIFE: In regards to your close attention to detail can you take us through some of your favorite aspects of the Detroit Denim Co. for Distinct Life collaboration?

ERIC: We didn’t try to change the whole jean. Instead, we stuck with what has been working and made subtle yet distinct changes that you would notice only if you were wearing the jean or paying very close attention to the jean. The fit is the classic semi-slim fit versus the slim fit. The denim is a darker white-line selvedge 13.0 oz. from Cone Denim in North Carolina that is only being used for this collaboration. There are other subtle changes too. For example, all of the bar-tacking is green instead of the standard dark red. It compliments the white-line selvedge perfectly and adds a great balance to the jean. Also, we selected Horween leather for the limited edition back patch. You can really notice how nice the leather is. There are a few other unique changes too. The end result is an amazing jean.