Out And About: a chat with Gustin Denim

If you’ve been paying any attention to new developments in the men’s clothing industry then you’ve probably heard mention of Gustin – the kickstarter success story that shocked everyone when they introduced high-end denim at a pricepoint that seemed revolutionary (until they told us that it’s what we should’ve been paying all along).

For those that are not familiar, Gustin is run by two Bay Area men (Josh and Stephen) that have been producing and selling their denim at boutiques across the country for the past few years. Each pair is made in San Francisco out of high-quality selvage denim from top notch mills. Earlier this year they abandoned the retail game and began crowd-sourcing their products at the wholesale price. What has resulted is a wonderful rainbow of high-quality selvage denim for the price of a pair of Levi’s.

I recently stopped by the Gustin headquarters to say hello and talk shop with Josh and Stephen. In this instance, I use the term “headquarters” loosely; in typical startup form they’ve set up shop in a friend’s living room and run their operation with a few laptops and iphone cameras. Nonetheless, the two keep a close eye on every pair of jeans leaving in the mail and are always looking for new and exciting fabrics for their limited-run jeans. Moreover, business seems to be going quite well – the team doubled in size this week when they brought on two more employees.

During my visit I made a point to stop by their production facility, which is just a stone’s throw from their living room HQ. Watching the creation of a high-quality product is fascinating to me; I got to see the cutting and sewing process, which occurs – quite literally – right next to some of the biggest names in high-end denim. I also learned more about some of the subtle construction details that make Gustin’s denim top-notch. For instance, the belt loops are sewn on before (under) the waistband, which increases their durability and keeps them from pulling off. The pockets are also half-lined, which makes accessing the contents easier. I also got to feel many samples of past and upcoming runs – from super-soft to super-heavy to super-green, all carry something interesting along with them that makes them unique.

Although Gustin has introduced a heavily tapered fit for those that are in to it, their bread and butter continues to be their original straight fit, which is slim through the seat and thigh and is a constant width from the knee down. I left their HQ with a simple pair of Cone Mill 13.5 oz. in their straight fit and will talk more about it once I get the opportunity to break them in. However, it should be noted that they have been experimenting with other items that are just as impressively priced – in recent weeks there have been natural leather wallets for $20 and belts for $50, with more on the the way. For instance, while in the factory I saw some lovely Japanese selvage chambray cloth that might become a button-down shirt in the near future – stay tuned.

In the end, what’s most exciting to me is that Gustin is taking boutique denim and turning it back into what it used to be – a clothing of the people. At $81-$99, most of us can afford to treat this denim however we want, whether it’s with a myriad of rules, mysticism, and ritualistic non-washing or just a pair of jeans that works hard and gets thrown in the wash every week. No matter how you decide to treat them, I imagine that they will hold up well and look all the better for it.