Aspire To Inspire

SEARCHING FOR SOUL: TRAVELLER DENIM CO.

As you might have noticed, 2013 has been the year of travel for me.  I feel very lucky and every trip I have taken I have savored immensely.  I’ve been off the writing map the last few weeks because of this heavy travel ( 6 cities in 27 days!), but I’m happy to be back in Texas writing again especially about one of my most recent Austin discoveries: Traveller Denim Co.  

Right before I headed west to California, I was in Austin and spotted a tiny little shop on the eastside that caught my eye.  Most people have the tendency to keep on driving when they see something in the corner of their eye.  Not me, and I was thrilled when I walked into a tiny 280 sq ft shop where some badass bespoke denim is being created by partners Erik Untersee and Selenia Rios.

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Erik and Selenia outside their shop

Erik and Selenia’s partnership was formed organically after Selenia moved back to Austin after a long stint in Los Angeles working on films and commercials.  After meeting one boozy night at Hotel Saint Cecilia (one of my fav Austin establishments), the two began working on creative design projects together.  Erik, a carpenter and maker of all things, joined Selenia and together they concepted and produced content for videos and commercials as the first of their collaborations.  They went on to re-model interior spaces together which quickly firmed up their artistic connection.  With both minds already rooted in design, the two created their vision of Traveller Denim Co. (a reference to General Robert E. Lee’s horse) with a simple and functional design approach.

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The Traveller Denim logo

It only took a moment to secure their space on Chestnut Ave. and the two renovated and designed it all on their own. Like many other entrepreneurs these days, the pair launched their company via social media in June and already have a 5 week waiting list for a pair of their newly coveted jeans.

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They use only organic ring spun selvedge

Traveller Denim only uses the finest Japanese and Cone Mills selvedge to create their bespoke denim. Buying selvedge in smaller quantities and vintage deadstock creates a limited edition strategy allowing the customer to truly feel the uniqueness of their product. Erik and Selenia hand select all of the textiles together creating their combined vision for their clean designs.

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Union Special Blackhead Chainstitch Machine- the only one of its kind used on all of their denim.

Traveller prides itself on creating their denim by only using vintage industrial machines securing their reference to a time when quality really mattered and soul was inherent in the process of creation.

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All of their denim is created in their shop by hand by two to three people they have on staff. Custom jeans start around $350 and go up depending on the fabrics and details each customer chooses.  They are also producing ready made jeans in limited editions for sale on both their website and in the shop on Chestnut avenue. Ready made denim ranges from $250 to $300.  All of the products in their store are handmade using the finest quality and they are Texas’ sole distributor for Spokane’s 100 year old Whites boots.

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White’s Boots

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Traveller will be launching their women’s ready made line, Show Pony, this holiday season with talks of a full ready to wear line of denim in the future.

While I was in town, my good friend Michael Purdy from Cavalier Goods in San Francisco was visiting Austin and after I told him about Traveller Denim he decided he wanted to get fitted for a pair of bespoke denim. It was awesome to be a part of the creative process and to witness the time and detail it takes to create a pair of jeans.  From the selection of selvedge to the final hand draft of the pattern, each pair can take several weeks to develop.

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Michael choosing his selvedge

Each pair requires roughly 20 different measurements to secure the fit.

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Hardware details are selected allowing a full custom design.

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Their signatures include: duck canvas lining, 1/8″ reveal on pocket line belt loops, lined waistband and back pockets, and a zig zag stitch.

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Signature numbered leather belt loop in center back.

Erik and Selenia suggest that the wearer breaks in each pair for several months before washing allowing the denim to adhere to the body and create shape and texture.  Erik’s jeans show what the result of this worn in technique that most selvedge denim makers recommend.

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The experience we had in this tiny East Austin shop out performs most retail experiences that I have encountered in a long while.  First of all, Erik and Selenia are down to earth REAL people and they are a lot of fun to be around.  There is no pretense, no air of exclusion, this is Texan hospitality at its finest. The two exude excitement about what they are doing and they are genuinely grateful for their fast growing success.  Their strategy is inspiring on all levels and their vision exemplifies the kind of makers that I am so drawn to. In Texas, SOUL is a part of your blood and these two are doing a great job of getting soul into a kick ass pair of jeans.

I’m thrilled to be able to share their process with you and I look forward to updating you on their success.  If you get the chance, make sure to browse through their website and take a look at their Fall lookbook.  The two called upon their local community of artists and designers to model this season and well, they are all pretty easy on the eyes.

They also created a beautiful and energetic video to tell their story featuring the same group of dudes. Check it out below.

Traveller Denim Co.

To keep up with their day to day, follow Traveller Denim Co. on Instagram.

 

 

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