In just a few short years, Raleigh Denim has steadily grown into a full-fledged premium denim brand, maintaining their humble outlook as a brand dedicated to quality, craftsmanship (their jeans are handmade), fit and style; as well as sustainability (they source and employ locally). Denim Therapy caught up with co-founders Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko, to find out why Raleigh continues to make jeans from scratch in their hometown and what’s next for this cult denim label.
Denim Therapy: How’s the line doing at Barney’s Co-op? Is it difficult for Raleigh Denim to produce large orders?
Raleigh Denim: The line is doing really well at Barney’s. Our first few orders tripled or doubled and that was a little tricky to keep up with (we have some great pictures of our friends and family helping us pack orders the week before we shipped), but now it’s not a problem. Barney’s gets that we need to do things a certain way in order to have a good, happy, long-lasting brand. They understand our philosophy, have facilitated our growth.
DT: Which style/wash of your denim collection literally flies off the shelf? and is there a “must-have” pair of jeans for Spring/Summer 2011?
RD: Our “Original” jean is based on the first style we were really proud of. We have updated it with triple needle fell seams and tighter stitching details all around. It has an interesting shade of 12.5oz denim with a tinted weft allowing the denim to break in a little greener than normal indigo.
DT: It’s obvious that you two are very proud Raleighnians. How has basing your entire empire in Raleigh influenced your creative direction?
RD: There is a strong, talented group of creative people here; we all hang out and feed off of each other creating synergy between our different disciplines. We have an amazing community of friends and family… they’ve played a huge role in helping us starting Raleigh Denim. For our first big order two years ago, our moms came in to iron the out-seams of the jeans, our friends helped us snip and fold and pack and my dad put in all the rivets with a hand press. We really wouldn’t be anywhere without NC’s support.
DT: Congratulations on opening your first private store, The Curatory. (Awesome name by the way.) What kind of experience did you want to create for people who visit The Curatory?
RD: Thanks!! We sold jeans from our first warehouse space to a few brave people who ventured to the edge of town to our unmarked building. We wanted to preserve a little bit of that grit – production is not sexy – but to also create a showcase for the end results. We chose to link the two visually, with a sliver of eye-level window running the length of the store. At any point, you can see through to us making things!
DT: What is your current favorite trend?
RD: I love waistcoats. And ties. Not really dressy ties, but ties worn all which ways, messy, casual, bow ties, thin ties…I think guys should wear ties way more often. They are such great accessories, especially if you look beyond the standard, corporate office style.
DT: What’s a day in the life of Sarah and Victor like? What keeps you sane? What makes you happy?
RD: A day in the life of Sarah and Victor…wake up, snuggle with our cat, Mr. Magneto, head to the shop, sew, fix machines, tweak patterns, make markers for cutting fabric… tacos for lunch. We have a Tuesday/Thursday taco tradition. Jon named it S.H.I.T.T. which stands for: “So Happy It’s Taco Tuesday/Thursday!”
Raleigh Denim Fall 2011 Lookbook
Raleigh Denim is now in 20 Barneys Co-op stores. Due to Raleigh Denim’s cult status amongst men and women, a new women’s denim collection will launch this fall, along with a full men’s ready to wear collection for Fall 2011. Also for Fall, Raleigh Denim is using four denims and one canvas that was developed exclusively with Cone Denim. Thanks to Raleigh Denim for taking the time out of their busy schedule to answer our questions! Don’t forget to check out Raleigh Denim online and follow them on Twitter!
—Michelle Christina Larsen & Kathy Ng Hassan
Tags: Cone Mills, interview, q&a, Raleigh Denim, Sarah Lytvinenko, Victor Lytvinenko, White Oak