Because my last post was about a brand I wasn’t particularly happy with, I thought I would follow up with a post about a brand I am quite impressed with: Tellason. They make beautiful jeans.
I bought two pairs of raw selvedge denim jeans from this San Francisco based company almost two years ago – and this past December I treated myself to two more.
After two years of consistent wear, these jeans have undergone an impressive transformation from their former crisp and uniform condition. Looking at my well-worn Tellasons beside the new ones it’s hard to believe they’re the same product, but I think that’s the magic of raw denim.
The casual observer would probably be surprised to learn that all jeans start their lives as raw denim garments. Raw denim, or dry denim, is the term applied to denim that hasn’t been washed or treated after it was dyed during production. Raw denim jeans owe their dark and stiff appearance to the fact that after being cut and sewn they are left in this state of nature. Pre-washed, pre-distressed jeans destined for the high street on the other hand are subjected to various washes, stains, and abrasives to arrive on retailer’s shelves feeling broken in, and looking slightly worn. Because raw denim jeans haven’t been subjected to any of the foregoing, the purchaser receives a clean slate where their lifestyle, habits and adventures alone will determine the look and feel of their jeans – not the fashion trends du jour.
The malleable nature of raw denim isn’t necessarily a plus for everyone. Jeans that are purchased pre-washed and faded provide the consumer with a fit and “look” that is reliable and unlikely to change dramatically with washing or time. Raw denim jeans after their first wash may shrink, or the excess dye that has been clinging to the fabric for months (or in my case years) may rinse out in unexpected ways. I say it’s a small price to pay for jeans that will last for years, and will only look and wear better with each passing season. Whereas conventional jeans with contrived whiskering will always be identifiable as jeans bought at a certain time, or from a certain brand, raw denim jeans that whisker organically defy such categorization.
More to the point for #menswear enthusiasts is that “raw denim” jeans have taken on a secondary meaning: quality and simplicity. Though there are budget-priced raw denim jeans, like offerings from Levi’s and Cheap Monday, most raw denim jean brands tend to be made in small batches from heavy weight denim (12oz or better), with high quality zippers and rivets. Raw denim jeans in my experience are often minimalist in their design, forgoing over-styled back pockets, and superfluous details, for basic, timeless styles.
Tellason excels on both of these fronts. Sourcing denim primarily from Greensboro, North Carolina based Cone Denim, as well as Japanese producers, Tellason’s California-made jeans feature a genuine leather patch, chain stitching, and reinforced back pockets to prevent your wallet from wearing through. They’ll cost you $200 or so a pop, but it’s money well invested in a hardwearing garment that you can count on for years to come. For more on the cost of domestic jean production I recommend this Wall Street Journal article.
I should also add that I’ve experienced great customer service from Tellason. After a year of rigorous wear the crotches in both of my jeans blew out. When I brought this to Tellason’s attention they invited me to ship them down to their factory, and they repaired them quite brilliantly – free of charge. It’s such a nice bonus when quality production is matched up with lasting customer service.
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