When I visited Los Angeles as a guest of Jerome Dahan and Citizens of Humanity, the basis of the trip was to get a handle on just how denim is produced out there. The West Coast manufacturing industry is an important part of the American economy, and it’s not until you step into these factories that you realise just how big it actually is. I love nothing more than getting behind the scenes to really understand how something is made, and seeing just how complex an operation it is to produce something that appears as ostensibly simple as a pair of jeans was an eyeopener.
We spent a day between Citizens’ four hubs in Los Angeles: their showroom, then the design and development building, and factory in the Garment District, and then out east at their laundry where they both develop new washes, and create the textured finishes of the jeans themselves. (And in case that sounds dry, there were also ice cream sandwiches AND Pomeranians too.)
The scale of the design and development building is enormous.
So I asked Citizens to take me through the process.
STEP 1 SKETCHING
• inspiration and seasonal direction
• concept board with styles fabric and washes
• designs sketched and detailed
Side visit to Finance Director’s office for Pomeranian petting
Quite a prolonged visit to Finance Director’s office for Pomeranian petting.
Then back to the shop floor
STEP 2 FABRIC SELECTION + TRIM
• fabric review and selection
• trim development
• garment details reviewed and sourced
STEP 3 PATTERN MAKING
• design details communicated to patternmakers
• patterns made
• patterns adjusted for unique fabrics and washes
STEP 4 CUTTING + SEWING
• markers created
• pattern pieces cut
• garment constructed with design team direction and production capabilities
Here’s Goldsign founder and Citizens of Humanity partner, and all round denim genius Adriano Goldschmeid, explaining the process to the assembled editors.
One of the processes that fascinated me the most was the use of lasers to both rip and colour denim. Using pre-ordained guides, the lasers can distress, fade and rip in a matter of seconds.
They can also make a camo print like this (perfect for AW13):
And then in an act of genius, before we headed off to the denim laundries for the afternoon, Citizens arranged for two LA food trucks to park up in the car park of the factory for our lunch.
Sitting outside in the warm California sun, eating ice cream sandwiches…can life get any better?
Part two tomorrow!