Often people wonder why of all the places Los Angeles became the Premium Denim capital of the world. How did the process of globalisation reverse in case of premium denims where the production sent overseas came back to US ?
L.A had a very developed denim production and large scale productions were done for companies like Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Pepe,Abercombie & Fitch,Calvin Klein etc..
Alongwith stitching, the facilities for washing and designing were quite developed.. However, as the orders for mass productions started going overseas, the producers were left with little choices . They had to either shut down or change the way they did business. Fortunately for them, Japan had revived the concept of Antique/Heritage denim where they were trying to replicate the Jeans from the 40s to 70s..
The concept was picked up by L.A manufacturers and they focused themselves on making small quantities of high priced Premium Denims.. All the infrastructure was in place(see this article by NY times)
The machine processes started getting replaced by hand processes (esp in washing). Companies like CAITAC GARMENT PROCESSING – which used to wash jeans for USD2 in bulk, started getting paid upto USD 30 for washing premium denims..Their sand blasting machines got replaced with various other alternative processes like balooning or small instruments which involved much more human touch – whether to create whiskers , distressed looks etc..Garment processors like Caitac became favourites of Premium denim companies like Sevens,Earl jeans,Earnest Sewn,True Religion etc..Later even Levi’s had to turn to Caitac to develop its premium denim line..
Now most of the premium denim labels outsource their stitching and washing .. They focus on marketing and use companies like Caitac to do all their work..
Now coming back to our question on why L.A became the Premium Denim capital :- It is because of availability of all infrastructure mentioned above . The companies could easily outsource their highly labour and specialised activities.. Biggest of all , there was a ready market nearby which was fired up with the Premium Denim trend …What other ingredients can one ask for to make a success of a business???
Also check out this interesting Audio slide from NY times on L.A Denim