FIVE SCOOP: Jack/Knife Outfitters are Zealots of Bespoke Selvage Clothing

Jack/Knife is a small batch production house that specializes in the manufacturing of single needle construction jeans, shirts, jackets, and other clothing goods out of selvedge fabric from Japan and Cone Mills, North Carolina. They don’t play by the rules of fashion—following the trends established in some corporate office or on the pages of fashion magazines. They just focus on making clothing that is timeless, simple in design/function and made to last. 

John Alburl and Nick Kemp met in college at the University of Georgia and began buying junkyard motorcycles to fix them up in their garage. “Somewhere along the way of immersing ourselves in the 'do-it-yourself' lifestyle we bought a sewing machine and started repairing and reinforcing our jeans,” remembers John. “We had the sewing machine set up in the garage with the motorcycle equipment. Eventually it clicked in our head that clothing should be thought of as a tool and we shed the rules of disposable fashion.”

After college, John and Nick met Melissa Vu in San Francisco while working for Levi's. “Melissa is a Master Pattern Maker and we fell in with her instantly,” says John. The three decided to take their passion for unrelenting quality and start Jack/Knife as a real company. “We opened doors in November 2011 and it has been a helluva ride since.” 

Nick and Melissa are the Master Tailors and Pattern Makers for Jack/Kinfe’s Men’s and Women’s clothing. Customers make a studio visit so they can  personally establish what you want. They say it takes an actual studio visit to experience everything--the Jack/Knife signature construction details: like single needle construction, cotton twill bound seams, hand-hammered rivets, reinforced pockets, and more. 

During a visit, customers are also able to pick a fabric from our selection of American and Japanese selvedge shuttle loom selvedge denims. They're able to be a part of every step of the process. Plus, Jack/Knife offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

“When we first opened doors pretty much only our circle of friends and family knew about Jack/Knife,” according to John. "Somehow, almost overnight, we gained a unexpected world wide following. For pretty much the entirety of the first year we only offered appointment only bespoke clothing to the public and design/prototyping/small-batch production to other companies in the industry. We were still developing our own collection of 'Ready to Wear' clothes in that first year.”

They are now expanding their in-house production to offer Jack/Knife to customers in Europe, Japan and the USA outside of San Francisco. In the next few months there will be jeans, shirts, jackets and more all cut/sewn by Jack/Knife and available to all those that are not able to physically make it to their San Francisco workshop for a bespoke experience. 

Jack/Knife customers are young and old; from all socio-economic types; men and women. They've had billionaires; head-to-toe tattooed motorcycle builders; rappers and rock stars; Google and Facebook employees, professors and students; restaurateurs and artists –folks from all walks of life. “Point blank they love us because our quality of materials, construction, workshop environment, attitudes, etc. are unsurpassed.” John says proudly. “We are friendly and try to help/accommodate everyone and anyone. We don't play into that ‘cooler than you’ exclusivity crowd.” They also believe their customer service is absolutely the best there is. “We go to hell and back for our clients.”

John, Nick and Melissa want to continue to grow as makers. They are constantly improving the designs, source new exciting fabrics. “We love what we do and work 6 days a week happily.” They are active in working with their community—creating jobs and even an internship/apprenticeship program. 

All images, courtesy of Matt Edge.

FIVE SCOOP is a series dedicated to uncovering innovative and creative businesses who are changing the world. See more here.

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