This piece was originally written for the Tender Stores newsletter. If you would like to sign up for our occasional mailing list please click here.

On Lost Jeans




In November 2010, with one small production of Tender delivered to stockists, and a second in the making, I took a budget flight day trip to Berlin to visit the denim and boots shop Burg & Schild. Then only a couple of years old itself, and still run by the two founders, the shop was an exciting place to visit, and I had a suitcase of sample garments which I was hoping they’d order from.

All went well- the guys were very hospitable and they liked the new logwood dyed denim I showed them: a type 900 jacket and some Tshirts, but they wanted a special-order jeans style. At this point I had the quite wide type 132, and the slightly slimmer, tapered leg type 130 (both still in production today). They wanted something in between, with the top fit of type 130 but a slightly straighter, less tapered, leg that wasn’t the full width of 132. I offered to get the jeans cut out based on their request, and called the jeans type 131, as being somewhere between 130 and 132. They ordered eight pairs, two each of sizes 3 and 5, and four size 4s.

Because the order was quite small, and at this point Tender’s entire production was still in the tens of garments per season, I didn’t get specific patterns cut, or even annotate existing patterns, I just asked my cutter to add a bit on to the leg when he was cutting out these eight pairs. They were delivered to Berlin with the rest of the order and were all bought quite quickly, I believe. Even though there were only eight pairs they cropped up in various corners of superfuture, and elsewhere. I was asked about them occasionally but never planned to recut them as I didn’t have the pattern. In any case, I’d gone on to develop various other fits of jeans: 125, 127, 128 (currently on sabbatical), 129, and 136, and production has increased to slightly more pairs (although still small enough to be personally transported from the factory!):

Last year I received an email from an old friend who’d also been an early Tender customer, asking if I’d like a couple of pairs of exceptionally well-worn pairs of jeans, including his 131s. I’m extremely grateful for the kind thought and generous offer. Here they are in all their glory:

It’s surprisingly moving to feel the difference in weight and stiffness of the fabric either side of more than a decade’s wear, a reminder that while this new pattern is named for jeans that went out and were Lost from the archive, likewise the pair that’s come back isn’t really the same as the pair that went out. I weighed them, and compared the weight to a new pair, hoping that they’d be significantly lighter, but in fact there was only 9g difference (although this is probably largely due to the patches lovingly sewn on where the cloth has worn through).

More fundamentally, though, it’s a reminder that jeans are particularly good at documenting the passing of time, and of our lives in them. As I understand it that’s a lot of the meaning of wabi sabi, but more than just the beauty of the garment itself there’s also a record of the wearer in jeans, which I believe is why we (I think I speak for all of us!) enjoy them so much.








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This piece was originally written for the Tender Stores newsletter. If you would like to sign up for our occasional mailing list please click here.