As Giorgio Armani once famously said, “Jeans represent democracy in fashion.” You can’t find a truer quote about trousers. Whether you shop designer or high-street, we all have denim as a wardrobe staple. So with jeans in every catalogue, how does a denim brand stand out? As One Thing Done Well has taught us, often the key to quality is to focus. This month, the gentlemen behind Noble Denim are doing just that. The Ohio-based company is committed to making the perfect jean with a focus on sustainability. Their pairs are sophisticated but comfortable, made for the guy wanting a tailored fit whilst avoiding skinny jeans.
Noble started with humble beginnings. Co-founder Chris Sutton got into high quality denim back in 2012, wanting to know how to make one pair of jeans better than the next. To learn the craft he flew to Cardigan, Wales to meet with Hiut Denim. The grassroots label showed him how to produce the high-quality jeans he was searching for, and with newfound inspiration, Sutton headed back home to set up his own brand. Back in Cincinnati, Sutton found Christman Hersha, a computer programmer and the yin to Chris’s yang. The duo made it their goal to become the most sustainable raw denim company in America. Starting as three part-time sewers, Noble quickly moved its production HQ to Tennessee. The team paid close attention, literally paying sowers extra to slow down and take their time for a quality finished pair. For other details, Noble source regionally. There’s cotton from North Carolina, hardware from Kentucky and reclaimed leather from Amish saddle makers back in Tennessee. The result is a pair of well-sourced jeans spun by a single expert sewer.
Inspired by time-tested looks and shape, Noble make jeans in classic slim and tailored fits. Perfecting pairs over four years, the jeans are made of canvas fabrics and materials that are stylistic and always durable. Like the Truman or Earnest Slim Straight, its pairs come in different shapes and sizes, though what distinguishes Noble’s jeans is the level of customisation unmatched in the denim world. Customers can drop by their store in Cincinnati and design their own jeans, a brilliant idea the brand took online. For a personalised pair choose the fit, size, fabric, colour of details and even a back patch.
The Design Your Own approach is a new venture, but it’s a hit with customers and where Noble see themselves heading in the future. “It’s a natural evolution from our existing small batch process.” Notes Hersha. Tailored to its supporters, collections are made small with jeans individually numbered on the label. Building relationships both with the customer and the factories are other future goals, with a degree of exclusivity no matter how popular Noble will inevitably get.
Speaking of another brand doing one thing well, Hersha notes Brooklyn’s own Knickerbocker Manufacturing Company. Like Noble, Knickerbocker has a small team that craft vintage clothing with raw materials and sustainable thinking. Using antique machinery from the old factory they adopted, the team research intensely when designing, distinctly reproducing forgotten menswear of a former era. Seems like the future of high fashion isn’t always on the mass market. Starting from a cursory interest, this denim company now thrives off a passionate commitment to its final product. With more stock and a couple collaborations, Noble could conquer the jean world by now. But in keeping designs, deals and details on its own terms, it would rather rule on a lower key. EJ