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Tender Co. Denim


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Stumbled across this post introducing (?) denim from a UK brand called Tender. If half the things they say on their website are true, this is the most obsessively small-scale thing I've heard of short of hand-weaving the fabric. They hand-dye the fiber, hand-cast all the hardware, hand-tan the leather in tan oak juice, etc. etc.

Has anybody seen a pair of these in the wild yet? They have a guidebook which is password protected. I hate being tantalized.


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This guy uses 16oz unsanforized Japanese denim with unbleached cotton and hand dyes in natural indigo from woad. The first collection is due out this Autumn/Winter.

Checkout Five's blog (http://five-secondskin.blogspot.com/search/label/TENDER%20CO). He posted the guidebook on his blog. I really like that jacket.

Edit: can't get the link to work right. You can click on "Tender Co." under category

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Hi All,

Really great to see my new project come up here- I'm delighted you're interested! I started Tender last summer with a few weeks in Kojima learning hand indigo-dyeing Japan-style, before bringing it all back home to the uk, and the first season (A/W10) is now in production, due for delivery to some really nice stores around June.

Sorry there's not more info up on the site yet, the A/W10 guidebook will have the password taken off in the next few weeks. In the mean time you guys can open it with the username 'visitor' and the password 'isambard'.

If people are interested I can post some (worn-in) pics here, as well as some making photos, as things develop. Right now I'm finishing up the prototype samples for the second season at home, then in a few weeks I'll be off to Norfolk to help with the indigo dyeing of the first collection production.

Let me know if people need more information, I'll try and answer things as best I can...


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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the lack of updates. Things are going to be a bit slow until TENDER starts to arrive in shops in the next couple of months.

Anyway, yesterday I went up to Leicester to collect my jeans and jackets, and check throughall the details. Left from St Pancras with 2 big empty suitcases and a couple of rolls of fabric for new samples:


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Let me introduce Natu, the guy who's making TENDER's jeans and jackets. Natu was born in Tanzania, where his father was a bespoke tailor, making safari suits for diplomats. Natu and his wife, Sarla, came to England in the 70s and initially worked as tailors. They opened their little factory in the late 80s, and specialize in making small runs of difficult stuff that other producers can't handle.


Everything's cut by hand, and it's just the two of them in the factory (sometimes helped by their son, Vishal).

Here's Sarla turning out a pocket bag:


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First the pattern is chalked out on the fabric. Because TENDER's denim is unsanforized (and shrinks about 15% during the dyeing process) the consumption's really high- around 4m. It's also quite tight getting the pieces out across the narrow width of the fabric. I made my patterns at home, but then I got some help from Kojima master-pattern-makers when I was in Japan last summer.

Then the pieces are cut out. You can see Sarla working on the other end of the lay, behind Natu


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The first operation in to sew the yoke to the back leg, on a run-and-fell chainstitch machine. Normally you'd put pockets onto the leg before attaching the yoke, but I cut the yoke low, with more shape in it than a standard 5-pocket, to give more fullness to the seat where it's needed, so the pocket sits partly across the yoke, and has to be sewn on afterwards.


TENDER's jeans and jackets are sewn with 100% cotton 'Eagley' thread, spun in Manchester. For the samples we used this soft white thread, but in production Natu managed to find a heavier-weight, unbleached thread.


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The hip pockets are fully lined with a heavy selvage calico (woven in Lancashire). The lining's cut on the bias to stop it bunching up inside the pocket after the outside fabric's shrunk. This will also help it adapt to the shape of whatever is worn in the pocket.


Because this production is really small, there aren't any folders or jigs, and everything has to be individually cut and pressed by hand


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the washing tab goes on the outside of the yoke, under the waistband at the right hip:


I didn't want any exterior branding for its own sake, but equally I think it's important that nothing's hidden away. One of the aims with TENDER is that nothing should be apologetic, so if you have to have a care label it should look good, and might as well double as the branding. They're printed on a nice papery acetate ribbon, which can always be cut off by the owner. In production the type number is hand-written, rather than printed.

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Hip pockets go on with a single stitch, starting under the waistband, doubling back on itself at the pocket corner, and ending up back where it started under the waistband. This is based on the way Levi's match pockets were orginally put on, before the advent of twin-needle machines. Quite a few of the Japanese repro brands still put their match pocket on like this. The hip pocket sticth is asymmetric, so that once both pockets are sewn on you get a '66' (this'll make more sense once I can get shots of the completed jeans up!)

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The side pocket bags are cut from the main denim, with no facing. The inside bottom of the pocket bag is cut on along the selvage. The pocket mouth is a straight diagonal, rather than the regular scoop shape. The idea with this is that the bias fabric will stretch out to a curve with time, giving a more generous scoop than if they were cut that way. However so that the seam doesn't break and cause a pocket blow-out, a strip of selvage (the toughest part of the cloth) is sewn into the pocket seam.




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cant wait to see the finished product and the details William :)

thanks! :)

Sorry to be a tease with this, but until the first production's finished and dyed I don't actually have anything to take pictures of... give me a few weeks. In the mean time I'll post up some more manufacturing photos as it all unfolds. Thanks to the people that have pm'd and emailed me too- I really appreciate the support!

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the next step is to make up the fly. First Sarla overlocks the buttonhole fly part:


then Natu puts in the buttonholes. I'm doing a 2-button fly, using a nice Japanese repro of an early Levi's fly button. Having experimented with positioning I found that you can quite easily get away with just 2 buttons, and I've seen it on early overalls, where it would make them easier to get on and off, and also presumably save on buttons. I like the overalls feel of it.


then the fly is sewn onto the front panel


and the 2 front panels are sewn together in a single-stitch case seam


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