Our Spring products are now launched. Some solid staples stay standard though. None are more solid than our jeans. Vulpine’s Product Manager Iszi Rudman explains the development of our Jinzu Cycling Jeans.
Hi, I’m Iszi and I'm in charge of product at Vulpine. I oversee design, development, sourcing, fabric, colours, manufacturing and make sure the team is testing the pants out of everything that we bring to market! I joined Vulpine as I love creating product that has a functional purpose, innovative kit that is always fit for purpose and transcends purely functioning on the bike. I am a commuter cyclist, weaving my way through the back streets of South London from East to West each day on my Specialized hybrid. I am also a Vulpine merino addict and if I am not on my bike sporting our finest yarns, I will be running in it (but I am probably not supposed to admit that on here)! Anyway, I am not really her to discuss the wooly stuff, thats for another day… today, we're talking jeans.
I’d never work for a ‘throw away’ fashion brand. I don’t agree with it on a personal level for environmental or ethical reasons. On a professional level I want to make things that last, that perform a purpose, that can be improved as close to perfection as possible.
So now confession time! I have a deep-rooted appreciation for good quality denim. It’s a pleasure that borders on nerdy. So being briefed to create jeans for Vulpine was right up my street. We agreed from the start that our jeans had to be super-robust and tough as nails; in fact – THE TOUGHEST jean in the cycling market. We resolved not to launch until we had them just right.
Lets delve into some background on jeans (cue history lesson…) Go back to the American gold rush circa mid 1800’s. The blue jean was born through a need for robust work wear that could survive day after day of grueling graft, down a mine, in rough conditions. These early jeans had no extras; they were purely functional and extremely hardy. Fast-forward and cowboys were the next to adopt work wear jeans for their durability and performance qualities. It wasn’t until celebrity, music, and film began to endorse denim from the 1950s, that the utilitarian function began to soften and the shift to fashion wear took over. Big brands jumped on a commercial opportunity and much of the mill manufacture process was compromised to keep up with demand. By the 1980s, production output had dramatically increased with durability no longer a pre-requisite.
Fortunately, from the 1950s onwards, many Japanese mills were quietly working in the background to reclaim the defunct selvedge looms, re-inventing and improving the manufacturing process. Japanese mills now have a reputation for producing the world’s best denim cleverly adapting the old approach to make it commercially viable – high output product without compromising the fabric quality. Combine this with a market demand for better quality denim from the late 90s and bingo, it’s a match made in heaven.
Of course that is a very succinct summary of history. I imagine Nick would put his foot down if I presented a Wild West themed mood board for the next upcoming trend. Nor is Vulpine a work-wear brand. But the essence of true denim is steeped in quality and this is core to our Jinzu jeans.
We decided it was fundamental that we use Selvedge denim and to leave it raw. Selvedge denim is the traditional way of making denim; it doesn’t cut corners for cost and whilst it is possible to source variations to make it cheaper (with stretch and water resistance capacity added) we went for the classic fabric because we want them to BE classic and perform the function of toughness and style above all else. It's also expensive stuff… Still not deterred we went straight to the experts and sourced it in Japan. The brief was for tough and durable, and we needed to be confident of that.
Many denim purists will happily advise on breaking in jeans and the only way to do this properly is to buy raw denim. Raw means that there is no treatment, no washing, no softening, no artificial detail worn into the fabric. As the customer wears their jeans in, their own ‘story’ is created and the longer the wearer can go without washing them, the better and more beautiful the result. Perhaps you always hook your keys onto the karabiner loop, or your wallet slots into your right back pocket? It’s these small details that, day by day, will provide the wear to create your unique jeans.
In addition to the fabric development, we applied our tried and tested cycle specific details to the Jinzu; a super tough gusset to avoid sitting on prominent seams, high back waistband and knee darts for ergonomic leg shape.
We really enjoyed designing and developing the Jinzu. I can only hope you get as much enjoyment from wearing them.