Hiut Denim: Made in Britain

David Hieatt, founder of ethical lifestyle brand Howies, has started new menswear brand The Hiut Denim Co. (pronounced hi-ut, a combination of Hieatt and the word utility), which is set to launch at the end of this month.

Hiut Denim has yet to even sell a pair of jeans but they’ve been stirring up the Interne with their cracking story and well-designed website. Hieatt, who left Howies two years ago, said that he wanted to revive denim manufacturing in the small coastal town. “If you’re going to make denim in the U.K., there isn’t really anywhere better to do it than Cardigan,” he said. Hiut rests on the heads of its extremely skilled workforce. The business is based solely in Cardingan; a small town of 4,000 good people in which 400 of its residents used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week for three decades; they were so skilled at making jeans, it was the very last jeans factory in Britain to close. As the company website says, “It is said that in Hollywood, it’s hard to find a waiter who is not going to be an actor. In Cardigan, it’s equally as hard to find someone who hasn’t made jeans.”

The old factory may no longer exist in Cardigan, but the skills remain dormant, bubbling under the surface awaiting an opportunity to ignite the denim industry once again. David is enthusiastic about cultivating this art and employed ex-factory workers for his project. The good men and women of Cardigan have spent over 30,000 hours learning their trade, practicing their skills to become “Grand Masters of jeans making”. Initially, the factory will launch with just six employees including Hieatt, two grade-A machinists, a garment technician, a part-time pattern cutter and Hieatt’s business partner and wife, Clare.

This is geographical luck. But alone, it’s not enough to bring the humming sound of jeans manufacturing again to this town. The other stroke of luck is that the timing is right. The banking crisis in an odd way has helped: this year, the rising cost of sourcing in the Far East and the demand for heritage has triggered a huge increase in orders for British factories. The spiraling costs of freight and the labor shortage in territories including China and India are making the U.K. manufacture of mid-market product a commercially viable option.

Hiut plans to regenerate this town by manufacturing the highest quality denim for what David hopes will become a global denim brand. This company pledges to only produce the best quality denim, cut with an expert eye and only in Cardigan. This is certainly a denim company with a difference; a determination to produce the best with a moral standing to stay true to its roots in Cardigan.

Hiut Denim will launch with two styles of jean retailing from £140, available to buy via www.hiut.co.uk by the end of October. The brand will roll out to high-end wholesale stockists for spring 12.

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