It started with jeans that fit.
And, funnily enough, the idea to create a Canadian-manufactured, altered-in-house jeans line, came in Australia. James Stewart was there on tour with his band, and they stopped into a jeans shop in Melbourne. It wasn’t a typical clothing store: all the jeans were made locally and, if they didn’t fit quite right, they altered them in-store while you waited.
Luckily, James’s wife Janna has plenty of experience in the Canadian fashion industry: her women’s clothing line, Cinder + Smoke, has been running since 2008. With all going smoothly, she was up for a new challenge.
So was their friend, Scott Bates. His movie rental store, the Movie Studio, was beloved in Edmonton but—like most movie rental stores—it was winding down.
So the three teamed up to start Arturo Denim. That was in early 2015.
Canada has a long history of clothing manufacturing, but by the turn of the century many factories that made clothing and jeans were shutting down. Janna, James and Scott bought up machinery from closed factories in Calgary and Montreal, as well as locally from sellers in Edmonton. They made pattern after pattern, adjusting them each time after wearing the jeans. They travelled to Montreal, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Barcelona and Quebec to meet with manufacturers, denim suppliers, factory reps and finishing plants. They tried out denim from America, Italy, Turkey, Spain and Japan.
After amassing 14 industrial sewing machines, creating over 100 different patterns, testing 38 different denims, and wearing more than 200 pairs of jeans between them, the trio landed on a women’s and a men’s style they loved. They named the women’s “Typical Girls” after a song by all-girl punk legends the Slits, and the men’s “Riff Raff,” after a Bon Scott-era AC/DC song. Both styles went through ages of testing and wearing before being put into production—we’re sure you’ll like ‘em.
Nearly two years of ripping, cutting, sewing, pattern making, meetings, testing, wearing, head shaking, collecting, and travel finally led to triumph: Arturo Denim Co. opened its workshop/flagship store on Edmonton’s 124th Street in December of 2016.
Where does your denim come from?
Right now, we're using denim from two different mills. The first, Kuroki, is in Okayama, Japan. It was founded in 1950 and for more than 20 years it wove fashion and industrial fabrics. In the 1970s, the mill switched its production completely to denim, and it’s been that way ever since.
The second mill we use is called Kurabo. Its offices are in Osaka, and its spinning and weaving mill is located in Anjo, Japan. The company was founded in 1888 and is the oldest manufacturer of Japanese textiles.
We're always testing denim from mills around the world, and looking for something new to bring you.
Where are your jeans manufactured?
Most of our jeans are sewn at a factory called Beauce Jeans in a town called Saint-Come-Liniere, in Quebec’s Beauce Region. The factory is about 125 km south of Quebec City.
If we’re between production runs and need a few sizes to get us through, we cut and sew jeans right in our workshop on Edmonton’s 124th Street. Come visit us anytime and we’ll show you how it works.
I heard your jeans are vegan—is it true?
It’s true—there are no animal products in our jeans. That leather patch on the back with our logo? Not really leather.