Ever wonder how to make jeans? I never did.
Around 2007 I gave up my apartment in San Francisco and moved to Los Angeles.
I grew up near the Northern California coast pretty close to some great surf spots like Santa Cruz and Pacifica, but I always had visions of living in Southern California. Year-round boardshorts and flip flops. Days filled with warm sun, surf and sand. Palm trees. Malibu. Venice. Everything in between. I had recently surfed down in Encinitas, and I thought I could pick up where I left off.
LA summers are epic. I always hated going to work because I’d have to put on pants. Kind of like the three Hawaiian princes who first brought surfing to California. They used to ditch their military school uniforms and hit the waves down in Santa Cruz on giant boards made of redwood. More about that here.
But, I really did live in boardshorts or cut-off cargos. Mostly because they were comfortable, but also because it made me feel like I was on my way to the beach – which wasn’t always the case.
One summer afternoon in my quintessential beach bungalow pictured above I had an idea. What if pants went on like boardshorts – like around the waist – with a drawstring even? I cut the waist and fly off an old pair of jeans and sewed in a pair of Ocean Pacific boardshorts. Luckily, I snapped a few pictures with my (clamshell) cell phone.
In 2015 I moved back to San Francisco to be closer to family. I came across photos of that original prototype in some old emails – photos below. I thought, how do you make jeans…if I could just find someone to help me out. A few Google searches later, I found a pattern maker and a sewer. Fast forward through several prototypes (and a huge learning curve) and Power Layer Denim was born. The drawstring didn’t end up working out.
It wasn’t enough to just make pants. I wanted them to be special and high quality and distinct. To capture a feeling. I set out to find the perfect fabrics. Last summer while walking through a huge textile tradeshow in New York I found our boardshort fabric tucked away between a million others. It’s made by a company down in South America. It had the right vibe. It felt amazing. I paired it up with the best denims from Japan and Italy and have them made right here in California.
The process of pairing boardshort fabric and denim is not simple. It took us several failed attempts. It took patience. I almost gave up many times.
The last step in making the pants is the wash. It softens the hard denim, breaks in the boardshort fabric and creates the look. The first time I saw them after wash I cried. Bawled is more like it – it just came up out of nowhere. “That’s it”, I said. That’s exactly what I was thinking. Up until that point I was feeling pretty hopeless. Like things would never come together. Like it was all a waste of time.
Seeing the finished product for the first time was something I will never forget. It taught me that an idea is just an idea. To bring it to life takes time, determination and perseverance. Mostly for me it took patience, small consistent steps forward and believing in myself – when honestly most of the time I felt like I was ruining my life.
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Leave Your Shore is a series of short stories, company news and inspiration written by the founder of Over Winter, Ryan Mathews. If you have comments or just want to say hey, you can use the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
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