Bottom left: Railcar Fine Good’s Steven Dang at his design table. Bottom right: a women’s denim prototype.
You may wonder what inspires our favorite denim designers. Would it be a movie star? An oil spill in the gulf? For Steven Dang of Railcar Fine Goods, it might just be a classic motorcycle, a vintage car or even the inner workings of a train. An engineer by trade, Steven Dang got tired of just tinkering with cars on the side. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Railcar’s design studio in Los Angeles. He pulls up a heavy duty sewing factory-style stool for me to sit in and practically bowled me over when he showed me his ginormous roll of selvedge denim. Of course, I had to touch it.
Amid the scattered patterns and denim prototypes stacked on one of his drafting tables, sat a cup of coffee. Calm and well-spoken, Steven admits he doesn’t get much sleep between his engineer work and Railcar. “Everything we do is by hand.” Steven explains to me that his workwear-inspired shirts don’t just come out of a cookie cutter. From the cut of the sleeves and shirtail, to the shoulder panel and even the flow of the fabric’s design, he is careful to mirror the patterns appropriately. “Visually, it has to make sense.” I did scratch my head at first, wondering why a man who repairs the Metro Gold Line by day (actually, he does that at night), has any interest in fashion design. “I love working with my hands and building things, and I see what I do [with Railcar Fine Goods] as that.” Of course, I had to ask him if he had a fave pair of jeans he couldn’t part with. “I don’t. But I catch myself wearing the prototype of my Spikes fit all the time lately. This will probably be that pair.”
Described as ” Industrial Americana fitted clothes,” Steven sews small productions and sampling from his quaint (and relatively immaculate) home studio and uses select factories in L.A. to take care of details. “I don’t like using mass production factories because small details get lost in the production process; and, I never use overseas manufacturing.” So far, so good. Steven has successfully garnered himself some upscale and niche stockists. As we spoke, American Rag World Denim Bar was signing on to carry Railcar. Look Out for Women’s denim in the fall and next season: Men’s Sonny straight leg jeans.
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— Kathy Ng Hassan
Tags: Cone Denim, Kaihara, Railcar Fine Goods, raw denim, selvedge denim, workwear