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Interview: Rivet & Hide

Friday 09 November 2012
Words Spindle

If you value a well crafted pair of premium denim jeans as much as I do then you’ve hopefully already heard of Rivet & Hide. If you haven’t, then here’s your chance to meet the creative mind behind this high-class online shop promising a blend of timeless, understated style with enduring quality.

First of all, tell us, who are you and what do you do?

My name is Danny Hodgson. I am from London.  I started Rivet & Hide this year. It is an online store dedicated to sourcing the best raw denim available. I regularly visit the brands I sell in Japan and around the world to see how the products are made and the efforts that go into their construction.

What is the concept behind Rivet and Hide?

Rivet & Hide is an online shop for those who are particular about their denim.  The labels we work with appreciate the heritage of denim and go to great lengths to create the best fabrics possible. We love clothes that age beautifully over time and are only interested in products in their natural raw state.

We have some very niche and respected brands from Japan whose craftsmanship is almost legendary. We also bring new ones to the fore such as Steel Feather and Hiut Denim both of which started out this year like us. To keep it focussed all the other garments in the store such as shirts, sweaters and jackets come from our denim brands.

What designers do you collaborate with and what qualities do they need to have?

Hiut Denim is our made in the UK label. It started this year in the beautiful Cardigan Bay area of Wales. This town made lots of jeans in the 80s and 90s but those jobs were rapidly lost to China and other distant lands with lower labour costs. David & Claire Hieatt are determined to bring those jobs back to the UK and get their town making jeans again.

The Flat Head and Real Japan Blues are one and the same family run business from Nagano in Japan. Their 3xxx signature denim has won awards for its “tate –ochi” qualities. This is a Japanese term that refers to the vertical streaks synonymous with vintage denim fades. Their flannel and chambray shirts come in both western and work wear styles. They make their own fabrics for their shirts never using stock.

Steel Feather is another new label designed by the self admitted indigo centric Anders Helseth from Oslo. The 21 ounce denim comes from the best mill in Okayama and the jeans made by Japan’s most esteemed craftsmen. The fit is slim and modern but vintage details such as the-1940s Conmar-style zipper , WWll replica 1-star Laurel Wreath top button and “Train track” split selvedge back pockets show an attention to detail that is second to none.

Nudie Jeans are in the mix. I love Nudie. They got me into raw denim and their price point makes them very accessible. We stock their Selvedge range which retails at £160. The fabrics fade beautifully and they are good products for raw denim novices who have little experience of not washing their jeans for months and learning how they will transform from being stiff and starchy into the best pair they have ever owned.

Railcar is a brand from LA. The owner Stephen Dang fixes Railcars on the Pasadena line in LA at night and makes jeans by day. His engineering skills come from a natural fascination with how things are made. We stock his great Spikes fit which uses American selvedge from the legendary Cone Mills in North Carolina.

In the area of leather accessories I visited the guys at Obbi Good Label in Singapore earlier this year. They supply us with some natural leather belts and meticulously hand-stitched leather wallets.

Who do you imagine is a typical customer of Rivet & Hide?

I wouldn’t view any customer as typical. For sure they all share a love of denim and the desire to carve out their own individual style in an understated way. On the one hand we attract the most dedicated and informed raw denim veterans who will know our brands and the workmanship maybe even better than ourselves. Others will be novices ready to turn their backs on pre washed denims and start their more rewarding journey with raw.  One might be 21 the other 61 but you cannot predict which.  Ultimately, they are looking for quality over quantity and would rather invest in one good shirt or pair of jeans for their wardrobe.

What makes Rivet and Hide different from the competition?

We love and understand denim and its heritage in the same way our customers do and care about where and how our garments are made. We offer a unique hemming service on our own Union Special 43200g built in 1950. They are rare collector items and we sourced ours from California. It creates a series of looped stitches that form a chain-like pattern; this pulls the denim at differing tensions on either side. This causes the distinctive ‘roping’ on the hem that is so much prized. This way we can hem the jeans in the same way as they were made without interrupting the integrity of their construction.

We are one of only 2 shops in the UK to supply 21 ounce denim stocking brands such as Steel Feather and Hiut denim that are exclusive to Rivet & Hide.  One of the coolest denim brands in the world is The Flat Head. Few retailers are given the privilege of stocking their clothes. We are their main UK retailer.

What makes you love denim or why is it so important for you?

Because it is timeless and democratic. No other fabric ages so beautifully.

How important is durability and quality of garments for you?

Durability is often misunderstood. Even the best pair of jeans will fade and wear out over time if you wear them really hard but long after a mass produced pair. I cycle a lot and that yields some amazing contrasts and fades but puts a stress on the fabric. We are dealing with cotton after all. At this stage raw denim fully matures with its beautiful contrasts and faded hue so many customers nurture any wear points fixed by a trusted tailor.

Quality is paramount from the way the fabrics are woven to the construction details of the garments themselves. When you wear something special you feel that way too.

Why do you think after 140 years jeans are still one of the most popular items of clothing?

There is no other item of clothing that so successfully defines a person’s personality

Could you explain to our readers why it is worth investing some money in a pair of good jeans?

It always pays off. A good pair of raw jeans will be stiff and starchy for the first month. I love this phase of their life. It takes a while for the crease patterns to start forming. That’s when they start to fit you like no other jeans and really become your own.

What is the worst denim crime in your eyes?

Artificially “ageing” a perfectly good piece of denim.

Are there any thoughts or anything else you would like to say?

For years there has been a great interest in the heritage of denim in the USA, Japan and Northern Europe. In The USA it hails back in part to the Rockabilly culture and in Japan where skilled craftsmanship is revered it finds a natural audience. There is a growing but less developed culture in the UK. It’s a bit like the coffee and wine scene here. It takes time to take hold and a process of education is all part of the course. Getting people connected to how things are made motivates me.  One day I would love to open a bricks and mortar store in London.  The Union Special would take centre stage but I see a reconditioned LaMarzocco espresso machine in the corner where I can pull the customer a great shot of some locally roasted coffee and sit and chat about denim. Invite guest speakers and have some relaxed seminars over some coffee or beer just like the coffee shops hold cupping sessions.  I nearly opened a coffee shop once. This way I can combine the two loves of my life. It’s just a dream at this stage but I’m working hard to make it happen.


Words: Tanja Stoecklin