The story of blue jeans has deep roots here in San Francisco. It goes back to Levi’s and the gold rush era of the late 1800’s. Back then, blue jeans were noted for their strength and comfort and were worn California gold miners and sailors as sturdy work pants. They’re also been known as a fashion statement for each generation dating back to the 1940’s.
Yet, even today, over 150 years after the founding of Levi Strauss and Co., there is a company that believes they have something different to offer the denim-wearing world. Last spring a brand called Copin Designs emerged in San Francisco with the goal of making a better jean.
Copin Designs’ founder Brian Rather is a self-described denim nerd. He comes from a design background, but he wasn't seeing any well-designed jeans on the market. So Brian designed some jeans himself, and took his pattern to a San Francisco designer who has been in the game for 30 years. Brian wouldn’t divulge her name, but he promises she “…even worked on the highly esteemed Levi’s 501 pant.” Together they perfected his prototype and named it “The Charles” cut, after Brian’s great grandfather.
The first run of The Charles was sold on Huckberry, an online store based in San Francisco that curates a kind of “best of” rugged men’s wear. After a successful launch on Huckberry, Brian manufactured his first full run of jeans. In true Denim nerd form, Brian described to us the pleasure he got after going on his first factory floor tour. “There is a single sewing floor with about 30 machines. Everything is done the traditional way here. The sounds of the heavy-duty sewing machines, the seemingly unorganized baskets of pant pieces, and the humming of the sewers themselves, gives this factory distinction. It’s magical.”
Copin Designs has been selling its magical jeans exclusively online, but starting next month they will have their first pop-up shop in San Francisco, as well as a few key retailers. Brian was tight lipped about which retailers, so you can check their site in July for the announcement.
The reason why Brian thinks Copin Designs has been successful is because customers today have a desire, not to buy a greater variety of jeans, but rather to purchase just one or two perfect pairs of jeans. “Nobody needs more products, they need fewer, more innovative products that actually enhance daily life.” Copin Designs tries to create this life enhancing pair of jeans through their project-based approach to manufacturing. Rather than releasing product collections, typical of the fashion industry, Copin Designs focuses on one project at a time. The logic behind this is all has to do with creating that one exceptional pair of jeans. “This way we can focus all of our energy and resources on designing and manufacturing a single item at a time.”
Copin Designs came into the jeans manufacturing business over 100 years after the fist jeans were created, and to the same city too, but Brian is confident he has a product that is different that people want to purchase. Copin Designs focuses on each jean with care and intensity. They want to create a jean for the “…person who wants to dress smarter.” Copin Designs will be making a lot of announcement in July so check their website for where you can find their pop-up shop and other retailers. You can browse and purchase their jean selection there too.