Recently I went to a denim atelier in Walthamstow Central. I met Stephanie, who works there at a networking event at Fabrications and wanted to hear more. I checked their website, and the prices are very reasonable £135-200. The jeans are made from organic cotton yarn sourced from suppliers who specialize in environmentally friendly textile production. The jeans are made in London by real people that the visitors can see when entering the atelier since the machinists are the front of the house.
The company has been running for three years. The owner Bilgehan wondered how such a practical item such as jeans turned into such a poorly made one and decided to do it his way. (I'll insert pics here). The Black Horse Atelier ensures all the details and the parts are sewn well together and last. Furthermore, you can bring your pair in for a free repair if it is by BLA; otherwise, it varies £4-50 depending on the type.
The usual VS the BHA fly on the jeans. The BHA takes longer to make, but lasts longer too.
Was fascinated by the beauty of the seams and how neat they are. Next time you go denim shopping, check the seams of the jeans you are about to buy.
The atelier has a selection of ready-to-wear jeans and denim tops you could try in the shop and get them altered for free right there. Jeans used to be made functional, but nowadays jeans are a fashion statement, so they work hard to combine the two. They have 14 men's styles, and two women's, two jackets and they are planning to expand the offering further. They offer you a choice of textile - yarn made in Turkey, machine-made and synthetically dyed. One of the companies they work with is Orta Blue, whose sustainability talk I went to recently. They use 70% less water to create denim textile, participate in various initiatives to reduce their environmental impact and collaborate with scientists and textile students to find new innovative ways for the future of denim. Alternatively, you can choose Japanese yarn, which is hand made, naturally dyed. It does have a larger carbon footprint since they source cotton from India and African countries.
The two fits for women. Personally preferred the skinny fit, as it is a little more stretchy. The jeans will loosen up and become softer.
A Lot of the times when I go to any environmental events, people always ask a question of ethical choice. What's yours? People being paid fairly and working in good and safe working conditions? Do you care about animal welfare? Do you care that your outfit has the lowest environmental impact? A lot of sustainable fashion brands have chosen their focus and work slowly and steadily to improve their business. For example, the designer of Mother of Pearl defended the company's use of leather stating that she'd rather use up the leftovers of the meat industry instead of creating and using new materials. She gave a few more explanation to the brand's sustainability choices, which made me think that people have to choose and sustainability is not black and white. I like BHA for creating the options for their consumer.
How the jeans change their colour and look after 12 and 18 (the lightest pair) months.
Another exciting thing about BHA is that they don't practice worn-out look in their jeans. All come in indigo dye and quite stiff, but it changes with the wear. To give you a background the most common techniques to create the worn-out look is sand blasting and PP spray. Both of which are hazardous for the workers: "Workers inhale crystalline silica dust particles, which impossible to expel from the body, consequently causing the Silicosis (IBID). If not treated at the early stage of diagnosis, the disease eventually leads to death (IBID). Even though sandblasting method is banned in numerous countries, banning the hazardous denim wash method does not mean that it does not exist anymore: 3 out of 6 denim factories, which claimed to have officially banned sandblasting, were found still using the toxic denim wash method, during an investigation by Clean Clothes Campaign in 2013 (cited from Tellason, 2015)". The beauty of BHA jeans is that the 'worn-out' look is created by you and the way you wear the jeans. So the piece becomes truly yours.
The atelier space accommodates other studios and is a home for a textile maker and a restaurant. @Gather_e17 is a wife and husband team creating fine dining cuisine and sometimes throwing meals for the BHA team and the local community. Bilgehan said that there could be no sustainability without a strong community. I suppose he's right, to create a discussion raise awareness and come up with the new ideas you need people and a welcoming atmosphere. Community is one of the BHA values. The founder wants to be authentic and transparent about both his product and with his community vs the new fast-moving denim brands.
These guy have just opened another atelier in Coal Drops Yard in King's Cross. Go check it out even if you have no intention of buying a new pair of jeans. It's a great place!