Here’s a very nice story. Hiut Denim are a new business backed up by a remarkable amount of experience – a whole town in fact. When the jeans factory in Cardigan (Wales) closed down, its workers spanned over three decades of expertise. These were and are real, honest, crafts people and Hiut has reemployed them to do what they do best. We spoke to David Hieatt who co-founded this extraordinary endeavour for the love of it and for the longevity.
Who and what is HIUT to you?
Hiut Denim Company is a small family company founded by Clare Hieatt and myself (David Hieatt). We believe in how great ideas build companies and change industries. And it’s our aim to be one of the most creative jeans companies in the world that has ideas that will change the denim industry.
We will be first jean in the world to come with a historytag. It will let you to see your jeans being made and, if you chose to, you can upload photos of where you went in them and what you did in them. It’s like an iPod for memories via the historytag.com website. It means one day when they get handed down or end up in a second hand shop, their stories will go with them too. The historytag will become a badge of honour for those who want to make products that last.
Think of it like two roads coming together. One called “geek”, which is the internet and its ability to tell stories, and the other called “luddite”, which is a company who wants to make great products that last. And the more we can make a product that lasts, the more stories it will have to tell.
As humans, we have a deep-rooted desire to know the history of things, and objects have stories to tell. With the historytag it will be able to start to tell those stories.
How did you come across the old factory and at what point did you realise you were going to reopen it?
Cardigan used to make 35,000 pairs of jeans a week for three to four decades. It was Britain’s biggest jeans factory. When it closed and left town, all that skill remained. It is just sheer luck that in our town that more people know how to make jeans than any other town in Britain. I guess the thing with luck is to recognise it and act on it. We had left our old company and wondered what were going to do – the answer was right under our noses all along.
Our aim, crazy as it might seem, is to go and get 400 people their jobs back. To do that we will have to be brilliant.
How much of the project have you shared with the Cardigan community?
The town is very excited. It is not often in life that you are given a second chance. For all that time the town thrived by making jeans. It has the skill here to thrive again. Like I said, to be given a second chance is a gift that you simply have to grab with both hands. Everyone wants it to work. The whole town is behind us. That feels good.
What can you tell us about the jeans that you’ll be making – are they old designs in terms of cut and cloth? And who are you working with for the actual realisation of these designs?
We are going to make the jeans as classic as we can. We believe most things are not discarded through failure to function, but because people grow tired of them. Knowing this informs of us of the importance of design that has longevity on the eye. To be classic, to be understated, to not be of a moment so it won’t die in that moment. Yup, the eye must be given consideration when we design.
Our aim is to work with the very best mills in the world. To use the finest denim that we can find and then hand that over to the Grand Master of denim to use their skills to make a great jean. I can’t name the designer as they would lose their job, but she is a big talent and has a great pedigree in denim.
Finally, when can we get our hands on some?
We will launch the website on March 2 [today!] And we will start making our jeans. Rolls Royce will make more cars a day a day than we will make jeans, at least in the beginning. At the moment, if we have some great music playing, and the coffee is strong, we can make 10 pairs of great jeans a day.
There are 41 stages of making our jeans. We only have to be great at 41 of them. We don’t wash any of our jeans – we only sell raw unwashed denim. When you order your jean, as part of your receipt you will get seven pictures of them being made. The Grand Master’s has had to learn how to use an iPod touch.
We are here to make the best jeans we can, not the most jeans we can.
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