When we think of heirloom pieces, the mind automatically summons images of pocket watches, pearl necklaces, crystal whiskey decanters, Civil War era quilts, antique vases, the list continues. One look at these priceless “knick knacks” reveals all the stories and secrets of its previous owners. Having them in your keep connects you to past generations and allows you to continue the legacy with your own memories and attachments.
Our Toronto location recently launched the Kintsugi Program which elevates worn denim to this objet d’art status. Our Store Manager Tyler Nelson explains to us how we extend the life of previously worn premium denim, why we’ve named this custom-made line after the Japanese art of repairing with gold and how you can be a part of this unique and sustainable endeavour.
For our friends in Vancouver, Kintsugi will be making its way to our Gastown location in upcoming seasons – stay connected to us via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates.
Tell us about the Kintsugi program. What does the process look like from start to finish?
The Kintsugi program demonstrates that raw denim, through wear, creates the perfectly imperfect pair of jeans. When I see well worn-in beautiful pair of jeans, I introduce the customer to the idea of having them become part of the store’s Kintsugi program. Basically, we would exchange their worn-in pair for 40% off a brand new pair of raw denim. We then provide some TLC with a dry clean and complete any necessary repairs in-house to breathe new life into the jeans.
Where does the name Kintsugi come from?
Kintsugi is a form of pottery repair in Japan. So if a piece breaks, they repair it with gold lacquer – they’re basically glued back together with gold. As the pottery gets older, and more damage and repair takes place, the more beautiful it gets. We don’t use gold thread in our repairs, but we do believe with age denim does become more beautiful.
What types of jeans make great candidates for the program? What characteristics in the denim are you looking for?
We’re looking for heavy honeycoming, some whiskering and just more dramatic fades. They have to look like they weren’t washed too early.
What has been your favourite refurbished pair so far?
We have a pair of APCs that are 60 months old with three washes – that’s probably my favourite one. The contrast between the dark indigo hues and the sky blue fades are so dramatic. There’s a symmetry in the honeycombs around the knees of both legs – it was a staggering sight when I saw this pair come into the store.
How differently do jeans from the Kintsugi program fit and feel in comparison to pre-washed and pre-distressed denim?
A big plus of pre-worn denim is that you get closer to a custom fit. Typically, the wear marks will sit in the more accurate places because you’re picking jeans that have been worn by someone a very similar size to you. So the honeycombs will match up perfectly behind the knee, for example. For the most part, it’s pretty accurate. With a pre-washed jean, I find the honeycombing usually lands in the calves, and they sometimes miss the intricacies that a broken-in pair provides.
Do you think the rip and repair trend is going to be passé anytime soon?
It’s definitely super popular right now and it might go out, but it will always come back. Like in the 90s, we were all ripping holes in our knees and now it’s back. It’s all cyclical. Trends come and go, but something beautiful never goes out of style, and that really is the purpose behind the Kintsugi Program, to showcase beautiful pairs of jeans.
What are you trying to accomplish with the Kintsugi program?
It’s for the love of denim. Every pair of denim has a story to tell through wear and tear, and a lot of people don’t have the patience to wear them in to that point. It’s nice to upcycle a pair of jeans that has a story, then you get to continue it.