9 Q&A: Made in the USA, custom apparel for men is in the jeans for Cincinnati's Noble Denim

CINCINNATI - Men care about looking good in jeans. At least that's what Cincinnati's Noble Denim  is hoping. The company is in the business of producing American-made, hand-sewn jeans for men.

You won't find these custom jeans in a big box store, and they don't carry a big box price (starting at $250).

Noble Denim husband-and-wife operators Chris and Abby Sutton say their jeans are created for the discerning male consumer who cares as much about quality, sourcing and durability as fashion.

9 Questions for Noble Denim co-founders Chris and Abby Sutton.

1. Why did you start Noble Denim?

Chris: Noble Denim started as a hobby for me. I was working as an Experience Producer, which was a creative job but didn’t involve me doing any hands-on work. I became unsatisfied with how disconnected my work’s creativity was from actually creating a tangible item. I really admired individuals who could make things with their hands.

So, one night on the drive home from a friend’s wedding, I decided to give sewing jeans a try. I hadn’t sewn anything before, and didn’t expect to be good at it. But within a month of my first stitch I’d made my first pair of jeans, and I found myself obsessed with sewing. Within eight months I’d left my desk job to start Noble.

The brand evolved from there, it isn’t about me sewing jeans solo anymore, but the creative energy and attention to detail that I bring to the product has its roots in how we started.

2. How are your jeans different that what the person buys in a big box store?

Abby: Most jeans that people buy in a big box store are made cheaply by automated machines. The labor is outsourced to different countries and the whole process is pressured to be as cheap and fast as possible to create a larger profit margin for the big companies.

We spend a substantially longer amount of time with each jean, making sure they are sewn with the highest quality and care. Because we started with Chris as the main sewer, we see our sewers as key members of our team and pay them well--twice as much as the average Made in USA jean makers pay their sewers. The results is a vastly better constructed garment. Also, the material is selvage denim which is a more durable and unique fabric made from a special shuttle loom.

Also, as a smaller company based in Cincinnati, we have localized values and that gives every aspect of the business a personal feel. We continue to work with regional businesses--our pocket bags are letter pressed at  Steam Whistle , our graphic design is from Louisville-based Tyler Deeb --and we continue to source all of the ingredients of our jeans as close to home as possible.

3. Who are your typical customers? Describe them.

Chris: Our typical customer is a guy who appreciates purchasing fewer items, looking for products that are geared towards a great fit and quality. Someone who cares more about the details and curating a simple and great outfit. Our customer tends to be creative and cares about the story behind the jeans as much as having great style. There is no specific age bracket for our customer, we’re proud that our classic fits apply to multiple age groups.

4. Why do people pay more for your jeans?

Abby: People are becoming disillusioned with the disposable consumer society; having a lot of cheap stuff that they throw away to buy more cheap stuff. For a long time, paying less has been seen as a virtue. Our customers are seeing that there are a lot of unseen costs in a cheap item of clothing including unfair wages. Our customers are willing to pay more for Nobles because they know their money is going to an ethical business that is accomplishing good at every level and that the product they are purchasing will be more reliable and durable long term.

5. Talk about the concept behind your Small Batch collection.

Chris: I love to create new things. That’s how I started Noble in the first place was experimenting with an item I had no clue how to make and learning how to make it with excellence. I love that process and want to keep experiencing it with new products.

Small Batch allows us to work with family-run factories and keep me sewing personally as well. It also allows us the platform to express ourselves creatively by doing small runs of new products throughout the year.

6. Do you source everything for your clothing in the U.S.?

Abby: We source everything in the U.S except for the fabric we use for a few special small batches. We are starting to use a few Japanese fabrics for our shirting and a small run of jeans because the Japanese are able to accomplish a unique type of fabric and dyeing methods that are unavailable in the US. Quality is really important to us, and while our clothes will always be made in North America, we’re willing to buy premium fabric from reputable places for short

runs.

7. What does the factory in Tennessee create?

Chris: Our partners in Tennessee sew our jeans. There are only four people in the family-run factory and they mean a lot to us, they are great friends and great craftsmen.

8. Are you in any stores, or must people purchase online?

Abby: We are in some stores and branching out slowly as we go into 2014. We really value aesthetic and ethic so we are picky about what type of stores we sell our products in. To find an updated list of our locations, customers should check out our stocklist online. We will be updating it at the end of April to reflect our current relationships around the country.

You can always find our products online, and in Cincinnati you can find us at the amazing menswear store called Article Menswear  in Over-the-Rhine.

9. Any near future plans for new items or retail locations?

Chris: We are offering tee shirts, sweatshirts and an overshirt (heavy shirt). These items are new for us this Spring. We’ll continue to have small batches of different fabrics for jeans, jackets and over shirts as we continue through 2014. 

Connect with WCPO Contributor Feoshia Davis on Twitter: @feoshiawrites.  Look for a new column each Monday.


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