Denim Week

A Look Inside RE/DONE’s Denim Warehouse

What denim heaven looks like.

By: Noah Lehava
Photography: Tristan Kallas

The resurgence of high-waisted, tight, tight, tight, worn-in denim as the marker of cool, effortless style is, in my opinion, credit to RE/DONE. Before then, finding a pair of well-fitting, perfectly distressed vintage Levi’s was, well, next to impossible—if they hit just right around the waist, the legs would be baggy and long. But Sean Barron and Jamie Mazur founded their re-worked denim brand, RE/DONE, on keeping that inimitable lived-in fabric, tailoring it into modern silhouettes and turning them into the luxury items you see on pretty much every sartorially-inclined person worth their weight in Instagram followers.

Barron and Mazur invited us into their warehouse-slash-studio in Downtown L.A. to see where the truckloads of vintage 501s from the secret dealers and locales they’ve tapped around the world are brought in for re-working.

Sean Barron: “RE/DONE was founded to celebrate heritage brands, to create an ethical clothing line that could compete in the fashion space, and to restore individuality to the premium denim market.”

Jamie Mazur: “I’ve always been really passionate about denim. When I would see girls wearing vintage Levi’s, I was always struck by how much better they looked than any other jean; each pair’s wear patterns are one-of-a-kind, and the faded colors are what every other denim brand tries to emulate using harsh chemicals to create the wash. The only downside of vintage Levi’s was that the fit was never right. Often, these girls were wearing men’s jeans that they had tailored to fit them. But that was always a gamble. For every five pairs of jeans you take to a tailor, maybe two or three pairs end up wearable. So I began to wonder if it was possible to do this on a large scale. Sean’s long history in the fashion industry made him the perfect person to partner with. After working out our process and developing our fits for about a year, we launched in July 2014.”

JM: “The first few days of RE/DONE were an experiment. We didn’t set out to build a huge brand. We just wanted to see if our idea was possible.”

Why the white label?

SB: “We wanted something sleek and modern as a foil to the vintage denim. The jeans are old, but the brand aesthetic is new.”

JM: “[The design process] is a lot of trial and error. When they arrive at our office, we personally sort through them one by one to find the most beautiful and interesting pairs to reconstruct. The chosen pairs are then sent off to wash. Our process calls for washing the jeans twice; once at the beginning and once at the end— all while only consuming the same amount of water as if you were washing your jeans at home. From there, the jeans are brought to our factory, located in Downtown Los Angeles. They are taken apart at the seams, laid to one of our patterns that we’ve developed over the course of a year, and reconstructed into one of our modern fits. Altogether, our jeans are measured at least three to four times to ensure a consistent fit. After going through their second wash and receiving the trim—including our RE/DONE label, rivets and buttons—the jeans arrive back in our office, ready to be photographed and uploaded on our site.”

SB: “Sourcing our jeans [was the biggest challenge]. We used to make jeans on a much smaller jump, a size 30 men’s jean would become a women’s 26, but there aren’t a ton of small men’s vintage Levi’s in the world and there is more competition to buy them. However, our bestselling sizes are 24-27, so we were always struggling to find our raw goods. We’ve since learned how to work with larger jeans, so there is more supply.”

SB: “We can’t give away all of our secrets, but we source them from suppliers all across the country. There are these characters who buy used clothing by the pound from places like The Salvation Army and have amassed warehouses full of vintage denim. I’m personally a fan of the jeans that come from the South. You can just imagine a truck driver who bought this jean at his local Walmart, and wore it as he drove around with the sun beating down on his lap, creating the faded whiskers at his lap that we all covet. Once he thought they were too washed out, he tossed them in favor of a crisp new pair. The old pair then worked its way across the vintage stores and rag houses of America, until it arrived in our office, ready to be RE/DONE.”

JM: “We have thousands of pairs of jeans in the studio at any given time”

SB: “On our second production run ever, we sent the finished goods to wash and something went wrong. We still don’t know exactly what happened to the jeans, but they came out completely tattered. It was still so early in the company that we needed to find a way to salvage them, so we had a guy patch up all of the torn jeans. We called them “RE/PAIR RE/DONE.” When we put them up, they sold out. People loved them—they were so unique and special. However, when we tried to replicate them after, we could never get the holes right in the wash process. Whatever happened to that first run is still a bit of a mystery to us, but a happy accident.”

JM: “Denim jumpsuits [are the next thing for denim]!

SB: “We are expanding the line to be a full luxury collection and will be launching new product categories.”

JM: “[When shopping for vintage denim online] know your measurements and reference the fit guide. Typically, our customers are most successful when they try a few different ones on.”

Part of the series:

Denim Week