Denim Week

I Spent a Mesmerizing Afternoon at the AYR Denim Factory

Turns out, making jeans is *a lot* of work.

By: Stephanie Mark

One of the things I treasure most about my job is the access to people, places, and things that I never dreamed imaginable. This can range from being inside Coco Chanel’s apartment above the Rue Cambon store in Paris, to being inside Christian Louboutin’s home. In the spirit of denim week, I was lucky enough to tag along with my pals from AYR for a tour of the brand’s factory. As I recently confessed, I was hesitant to wear denim for a long time. But once I was converted back to the blue side (get it!), I could not quench my thirst. When my friends offered me a firsthand look at how AYR jeans are made, the answer was a resounding YES!

One of the first things I learned is that the denim process starts long before the first pattern is cut. For AYR’s Creative Director and Co-Founder, Jac Cameron, the process actually starts in Italy. AYR works closely with ISKO, the world’s leading brand in quality denim manufacturing. Having a partner like this allows AYR to push the limits and create the best pair of jeans possible. “At AYR our philosophy has always been to bring a product to the customer that speaks to innovation in fabric, fit, and detail,” Cameron says. “The alignment of these elements are imperative to the creation of a better-fitting and longer-lasting jean.” It was at ISKO HQ where Cameron found one of her favorite new fabrications for fall in the “riser” and “superba” fits. “The quality has all the beauty and feel of a rigid denim with all the comfort that stretch provides,” she says. “[It’s] truly innovative.”

After selecting fabrics, AYR works with ISKO’s Creative Room to explore cutting-edge construction and silhouette techniques—a collaboration aimed at pushing the boundaries of what’s capable when making jeans.

Once the fabrics, cut, technology and style are all decided on, the process moves back to L.A., where I got to jump in on the fun. I had no idea how many steps are involved in making a high-quality pair of jeans. Cameron broke it down as concisely as possible, explaining, “We do all of our bulk production out of L.A. and work hand in hand with our partners there to create the washes, fit and finishing.” They then work on rounds of what are called wash submits to perfect tones and shades, creating washes that look truly vintage with the appearance of age and wear. Check it all out below, as outlined by Cameron herself.

“After the ‘dry processing’ stage, this is where each jean is worked on by hand to create an authentic wear pattern. Whiskers, and blast through the thigh help to give the jean an ‘aged’ look.”

“One of the most fun steps if you’re making a destroyed jean is to dremel the pattern into the raw fabric! This is where the jean starts to come to life. This technique is all done by hand to create a truly authentic distress pattern. Once the jean is washed, the destroy holes open up and the entire garment starts to feel more broken-in and vintage.”

“Dry processing can be created by hand or by using a laser machine. At AYR, we prefer to use the hand techniques so each garment can be individual. Every pattern is slightly different as the human hand recreates [it] with slight deviation, making each pair unique.”

“This is where we found one of our favorite new fabrications for fall, which we developed into our newest styles that launch this week, the Riser and the Superba. I could have dug around this archive for days!”

“ISKOTECA is an archival library of every fabric created by ISKO and is a Mecca of inspiration for any denim designer; it’ll blow your mind! There is a warehouse full of denim to draw inspiration from, which we did when creating our next season.”

“Creative Room is a global resource for cutting-edge construction and silhouette techniques. This is where brands really start to hone in on fit and detail direction to create a new jean for future seasons. There were so many incredible handcrafted pieces—it took a serious amount of self-restraint not to bring them all back with me!”

Part of the series:

Denim Week

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