Denim geeks are pretty thick on the ground at the MANual offices, so our upcoming sale from Naked & Famous—the Canada-based jeans-makers as renowned for their dead-on fits as their innovative fabrics that incorporate everything from cashmere to stainless steel—has been the source of considerable excitement. In anticipation of the main event today at noon, we talked with founder and designer Brandon Svarc about his family’s history in the garment business, the story behind the brand’s name, and what exactly makes Japanese denim so great. (Spoiler alert: It’s got something to do with the PH balance of the water.)
Maybe we ought to first ask about the name and how it came about. Did you have a sort of manifesto?
The aim was to create something that was the opposite of all the overpriced and crappy Hollywood denim brands. We sell jeans, not sex or glamour or design or celebrities.
How have those sensibilities evolved since you launched in 2008?
We created rules for our brand: No washes, no ads, no sales reps, no agents, no PR companies, no pre-distressed jeans. And, we only use Japanese denim, and only make our jeans in Canada!
Why Japanese denim?
I need three hours to fully answer this. But in super short, three reasons:
1) Vintage shuttle loom machines create a fabric that is special because it’s about quality and not about mass production.
2) The rope-dyeing method creates a yarn that fades beautifully.
3) The water! In Okayama the water quality is unique. It has a specific PH balance and mineral content that is different than anywhere else in the world. This creates a high quality fabric and dye that can’t be matched.
And why Canadian manufacturing?
We will always support domestic manufacturing. I believe very strongly that each brand should make products where they are from. When I see a luxury brand producing their products in China and retailing it for exorbitant prices it just makes me shake my head. By producing locally we have better control and faster turnaround, and because of NAFTA we can ship our goods to USA with no duty paid. This is how I know that no other denim brand can offer the product value that we can!
Where do you get the inspiration for the exotic denims you do?
Mostly from crazy ideas that float around in my head, but also from small cult Japanese denim brands that most people have never heard about.
How did you first get into denim?
My family has been in denim and workwear industry for over 60 years. It’s in my blood as they say.
What are you looking at for inspiration these days?
We don’t look at anything specifically, we just try to create crazy fabrics from ideas that come from our head or together with the ideas of the production managers of our fabric suppliers.
What’s next for you?
We will continue to push the envelope of innovative fabrics and come out with new crazy stuff each season. We will also grow our women’s collection so that the ladies can share in the denim nerdiness too!