When it comes to buying clothing online, jeans are pretty much at the bottom of my list. Unless I’m familiar with a particular brand’s fit, colour and overall feel, the margin for error is just too great. And buying men’s jeans? It just seems infinitely more complicated. This, at least, was my opinion until I recently discovered The Hiut Denim Company, an online shop that makes the business of buying jeans simple again by offering just two no-nonsense, yet very cool styles.
What makes this site particularly wonderful – in addition to beautiful photographs and a clean design – is the story behind the brand and how it came to be. The small town of Cardigan, in Wales – population 4,000 – was, for 30 years, a centre for jeans-making in Britain; some 35,000 pairs were produced there each week. When the main factory closed, many skilled craftsmen and women were left behind. Hiut co-founders and denim visionaries, Clare and David Hieatt, saw all of that local talent going to waste, and have set about bringing the jeans industry back to Wales, but in new and creative ways.
The process of buying a pair of trousers on Hiut is as simple as simple can be: there are just two choices of denim, and two choices of styles. The first option is unwashed 12oz cloth (£130), sourced from one of Turkey’s finest mills. The second fabric is Selvedge (£230), an artisanal denim from the Kuroki Mill in Japan. Deep indigo in colour, this variety weighs in at 14oz – and while a bit more of an investment, is worth the price for the committed jeans wearer.
Next, choose your cut: Regular, Slim or… that’s it. Because, in the sage words of David Hieatt: “Life is complicated enough without us adding to it.” The Regular model is a classic straight leg 100 per cent cotton jean with pockets lined in ecru twill (one is specifically made to fit an iPhone). Pocket edge seams are bound for a “clean finish”, and copper rivets – as well as one signature red “owl” rivet on the back pocket – make these button-flys, well... super fly.
The more tailored look is the Hiut Slim Fit – refreshingly not super skinny, but rather like a cigarette cut – subtly narrower through the leg. This version sits lower on the waist and features the same rugged materials and rivets as the Regular model, but with understated design detailing and chain-stitched hems for good measure. A Size Guide helps you work out how to measure yourself using a favourite pair of old jeans (you can even customise the inseam), and also includes pointers on ordering the Selvedge variety (these come purposely long so that they can be turned up). In addition, there’s a very-handy-indeed tool that shows how the denim will fade over a span of three years.
The last step in the buying process, and the one that sets the company apart, is the addition of the History Tag. “By going to the historytag.com website you can see your jeans being made and, if you choose to, you can upload photos of where you went in them and what you did in them,” explains Hieatt. “This means that one day when they get handed down or end up in a secondhand shop, their stories will go with them, too.” Much like a blank iPod fills with music, you will be able to add your memories over the course of many years. Fitting, since these jeans are made more than anything to stand the test of time.
As Hiut jeans are hand-crafted, delivery can take from six to 12 weeks. But when they do arrive, you will receive details about the Grand Master who lovingly went through 41 steps to cut and create your classic, practically bespoke, pair of very unique trousers. That’s denim done right.