Jeans are the workhorses of all trousers. You beat them to death until, one woeful day, they become yardwork cutoffs. Well, Deep Ellum Denim wants you to put down the Fiskars. The shop that’s been dealing in denim since 2017 recently introduced a hand-mended vintage jean service just in time for the collective assessment of back-to-normal wardrobes.
“What we love is you can take something in the closet like an old pair of jeans—maybe they’re torn up, maybe they’re not—and you can bring them in and revitalize them, make them have a whole fresh look,” says Bennie Reed, who co-founded the denim oasis with Jeff Kauffman.
Fully restored jeans these are not. Wielding needle and thread, the shop’s general manager and vintage curator, Daniel Brown, tackles fissures by hand. He adds patches made from older fabrics found at estate sales. Well-loved clothes, blankets, even woven rugs get a second chance. Brown employs a mending technique called sashiko, a Japanese approach that leaves cross-stitched patterns visible, elevating worn jeans into a sort of wearable art.
A number of shoppers are men who want nice jeans for the office, but kids are customers, too. There are already some little Levi’s with funky textiles stitched into the waist at the back of the shop, past the vintage neon Budweiser sign and under the $4,000 Alaska brown bear rug hanging on the wall.
If it’s brand-new you seek, the jeans-obsessed store carries brands such as Momotaro and Naked and Famous, in addition to its own line of raw, selvedge denim. Regardless, for Reed, good denim should be allowed to age the way it was intended. “It gets a lot cooler over time,” he says. “Like good leather, denim is similar. It’ll patina.” ♦
Another Dallas Denim Doctor
In Oak Cliff, Javier Tellez-Garfias takes a midcentury approach to revitalizing jeans with American-made, turn-of-the-century cast-iron machinery, the very same used by the Levi’s factory in the ’40s and ’50s. At his Dallas Denim Repair, he mends jeans that have seen much better days. “Things have definitely changed,” he says. “Everyone’s going more green, buying less clothes, and taking care of old clothes.”
Tellez-Garfias went to school for fashion design in L.A. where it seemed, to him, like denim repair shops lived in nearly every neighborhood. Since the fashion industry generates a lot of waste, especially with the production of denim, he says, mending quality denim that can have a long lifetime felt like his way of combatting it.
Now Tellez-Garfias and a small little collective of creatives and artists work out of the Quatro y 20 studio at 420 West Davis Street. There, he artfully patches up unfortunately located tears and customizes denim with chainstitch—you can get your jean jacket personalized with your name, if that’s your style M.O.
If you have a ripped-to-hell pair of jeans, schedule an appointment at Dallas Denim Repair. They’ll fill the void in the seat of your pants in around two weeks.
“Take care of old clothes,” advises Teller-Garfias, who thinks the latest trend in fashion “is all about moving toward sustainability.”