1. Our town is going to make jeans again

    Cardigan is a small town of 4,000 good people. 400 of them used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week. For three decades.

    Then one day the factory closed. It left town. But all that skill and knowhow remained. Without any way of showing the world what they could do.

    That’s why we have started The Hiut Denim Company. To bring manufacturing back home. To use all that skill on our doorstep. And to breathe new life into our town.

    As one of the Grand Masters said to us when we were interviewing: “This is what I know how to do. This is what I do best.” We just sat there thinking we have to make this work. So yes, our town is going to make jeans again.

    Here goes.

    David & Clare Hieatt

  2. Do one thing well

    We make jeans. That’s it. Nothing else. No distractions. Nothing to steal our focus. No kidding ourselves that we can be good at everything. No trying to conquer the whole world. We will just do our best to conquer
    our bit of it.

    So each day we will come in and make the best jeans we know how. Use the best quality denim from artisan mills from all around the world. Cut them with an expert eye. And then let our ‘Grand Masters’ behind the sewing machines do the rest.

    There is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from making something well, of such superior quality that you know it is going to stand the test of time. It makes the hard work and the obsessing over each and every detail worth all the effort. That’s our reward.

    So no bobble hats, no sweatshirts, no jumpers.

    Just the best pair of jeans that time and skill will allow.

  3. In quality we trust

    In the same way as the orange stitching runs through our jeans, a belief in quality runs through our company.
    For us, quality is not just about using the finest materials, but it is the philosophy behind everything we do: how we look after our people, how we treat our customers, how we conduct ourselves as people and, ultimately, how we do business on a planet with a finite set of resources.

    Quality is also about design. To make something so that it will always be loved is a rare skill. Most things are not discarded through failure to function, but because people grow tired of them.

    Knowing this informs of us of the importance of design that has longevity on the eye. To be classic, to be understated, to not be of a moment so it won’t die in that moment. Yup, the eye must be given consideration when we design.

    And indeed, quality is about materials too. The stuff we can feel with our hands. A great product will keep performing as intended when made using the very best materials. This is of course, obvious. But this is where most people try to cut corners. And then they wonder why their customers never came back for more. So maybe, it isn’t so obvious.

    And lastly quality is about a respect for the planet’s valuable resources. How often does a cheaper product have to be replaced? Part of that price is paid by the customer, but the other part is paid by us all.

    In a world that seems obsessed by quantity rather than quality, we know where we stand. We will make the best jeans that we can, rather than the most jeans that we can.

  4. The Grand Masters

    Malcolm Gladwell wrote it takes 10,000 hours to become a Grand Master in chess. A Grand Master is someone who is capable of playing at the highest international level.

    In our town, there are people who have spent 20,000 hours, 30,000 hours, and in some cases, 40,000 hours making jeans. Their hands and eyes have been trained in the essence of making a great jean. They are the Grand Masters of denim.

    You see, we had Britain’s biggest jeans factory on our doorstep. It employed 400 people out of a town of 4,000 people. And it made 35,000 pairs of jeans each week for 3–4 decades. That’s a lot of jeans. And we all know what practice makes.

    In Cardigan, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know how to make jeans. If you go to the coffee shop, they used to make jeans. If you go the pub, they used to make jeans. If you learn how to drive, the driving instructor used to make jeans.

    Yes, this town knows how to make great jeans.

  5. The 6 months ‘no wash’ rule

    Raw denim is best given a good six months before washing. The longer you can leave them, the better they will look. The indigo will have worn off in places where you make natural creases. When it comes to the big day, the indigo will fade to reveal the contrasts that give it the well worn jeans look.

    If you wash them too early, the indigo will wash off uniformly so it will give an even, dark indigo colour which means the magic will have gone.

    Like anything in life, there are no short cuts.

  6. After a while they become yours

    At the start, unwashed jeans are difficult to love. They are stiff. They feel like wearing a cardboard box. Some people don’t ever get past this stage.

    But don’t give up. To those who persevere, there will be a reward. Like a Guinness, it just takes time to reveal its quality.

    You and your jeans will go everywhere together. They will be the first thing you reach for of a morning. And the last thing you take off at night. And along the way, they mould to you.

    Every crease, every mark, every rip, every splash of paint is put there by you.

    There will be a moment in this Wear-to-Fit process where they become your jeans. You will have broken them in. The pain will have been worth it. Easy doesn’t make great jeans.

  7. Blue Blood

    Denim is different.
    It gets better with age.
    It’s work.
    It’s play.
    It has no respect for class systems. It’s male. It’s female.
    It’s geek. It’s luddite.
    It’s above politics.
    It’s cheap. It’s expensive.
    It’s for going out. It’s for staying in. You have a favourite pair.
    You get upset at the end of their life. They tell stories about you.
    They have been where you have been. They have a soul.
    Denim is different.
    It gets in your blood.

  8. We are makers

    Making things.
    It’s in our DNA. It’s what separates us from the apes.
    We started with sticks and stones and made them into arrows and axes. We moved on to shovels and ploughs, ivory buttons and whale-bone needles. We came on in leaps and bounds and we started to specialise.

    In 1830, in Cardigan, where we live, there were three bakers, thirteen bootmakers, two coopers, two hatmakers, three ropemakers, five dressmakers and milliners, two straw hat makers, one anchor smith, two weavers, four blacksmiths, two cabinet makers, three curriers, three lime burners, three saddlers, two shipbuilders, six tailors, one whitesmith, one corn miller, two black makers, seven carpenters, four glaziers, five maltsters, two printers, three sailmakers, two tanners, one tinsmith. And a stone mason.

    At that time, Cardigan was a busy port, shipping agricultural produce and slate to Ireland and the west coast of Britain, taking human cargo to the Americas, importing fish and building boats.

    But the river would silt up and the bigger ships moved up the coast to Liverpool, bringing their bales of raw cotton to the mills of Manchester, taking cotton cloth back to the colonies.

    Man (or, more often, woman and child) would not make, but manufacture. And the factory was where it would happen. Eventually, we would export our industrial revolution and with it many of our jobs.

    Yet even in 1980, one in four workers in Britain were employed in manufacturing, making things. A generation later, the figure is less than one in ten.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, Cardigan used to be very good at making one thing in particular: jeans. There is no noble Grade II listed brick-built mill to remind you, just a grey metal-sided warehouse. But it once gave work to 325 people, mainly women, making jeans by the million.

    Here, waistbands were cut, flies topstitched and serged, pockets bar-tacked. Seams would be flat-felled, trouser-legs hemmed, button-holes stitched and pocket corners riveted.

    Malcolm Gladwell would say that to become expert at doing something, you must spend 10,000 hours at it. With a 40-hour working week, minus holidays, plus some overtime, you could clock that up in five years. Some people worked here for twenty years.

    When the last shift clocked off on Friday 8 November 2002, one machinist described the factory closing as “like a death in the family. It will be like a funeral.”

    The factory may have left but the skills are still here in Cardigan, waiting for their use to be considered valuable once more, waiting for the story to begin once again.

    Waiting, to make things.

  9. The Uniform for the creative man

    The next big ideas.
    The next companies.
    The next business models.
    The makers and the shakers.
    The growers and the farmers.
    The artists.
    The writers.
    The musicians.
    The designers.
    The coders.
    The hackers.
    The mavericks.
    The non-conformists.
    The people who are going to change this world of ours.
    They won’t do it while wearing a business suit.

  10. Our job is to make the best jeans we can, not the most jeans we can.