Ever since the premium denim blasted their way on the denim scene, the prices of jeans have skyrocketed . Transformed from a work wear to a fashion item, denim has indeed seen itself elevated in the last couple of decades. Going beyond the high priced premium denims from a multitude of brands , we reach the bespoke denim and when the “Haute Couture’ service from styling experts from Paris provides this bespoke service, you reach close to the zenith of denim creation.
Tilman created the Nadel & Pen service last year , after his long experience of working with Dior, Nina Ricci , Courrèges , Lee Cooper and other brands. Nadel & Pen is not a brand but a bespoke service. It aims to create a jeans for his clients after having deeply studied their needs and lifestyles. Tilman prefers to call his creations “bespoke denim trousers", rather than jeans since, as he says,
“each piece is a unique and artistical re-interpretation of one of the most industrialized products in the world…”
His clients include rock stars, sportspersons, businessmen and other elite of the society who are looking for that perfect jeans designed to their specifications and , more importantly, their lifestyle.
We spoke to him to find out what really this “Haute Couture” service is about and why does it make his “bespoke denim trousers” unique and interesting for his clients to justify the price tag.
Q.Hi Tilman ! Pl tell me about the full process of getting a denim trouser made from Nadel & Pen .
Until now our customer got directly in contact with us…. word to mouth, our website or thanks to interviews in press… Luckily the profiles of our exclusive customers are quite interesting. Modern day dandy, businessman, rock-star, sportsman, designer, chief cook ( we had already different kinds of customers ) think one day of a noble denim trouser…
- We meet him ( in Paris, or his preferred city, depending on his demands ), listen to him, make him feel comfortable and understand his "denim-dreams" his demands…
- We measure his body. At the next appointment we show him the "collectible ,wooden shuttle, rare selvage denim fabrications", we collected exclusively following his demands / dreams.
- We also offer him a wide variety of adapted marvelous & rare trimmings ( horn, mother of pearl, solid silver or solid gold ).
- Exclusive custom designed drawings are presented, including specific pocket, cut & sew, outside, inside-design… specific embroidery & trims proposals, this is where our designer experience is fully privatized .
- Then starts the process of bespoke pattern making, hand embroidering, hand sewing ( no sewing machines ! ), hand make of trims ( made by a partner who is creating jewelry ) starts.
- Two month later a first fitting is set up.
- After a total of 4 month our customer owns an incredible and unique bespoke piece of selvage denim….
- Reminding him his career as…. a rock-star, or sometimes matching with the logo and colors of his chain of topnotch restaurants, there was also a gift of his wife with their wedding date hand embroidered…. and finally he is able to wear his very own denim, and supporting the most noble art of denim-making in France.
Q.Why are your denim trousers so expensive ? What justifies a starting price tag of Euro 6000+?
Well, the whole process of couture like bespoke design & service, plus the actual make of the denim trouser which is “Hand Made” and artisan. From the time we first meet the customer and when the final unique denim trouser is delivered, about 140 hours are spent only on hand sewing 1 pair of trousers, without any help of machines… That’s the kind of detailed involvement we have in each denim trouser to be able to bring out a perfect bespoke trouser to our client. And in Europe the costs of managing this kind of activity is at the level of the workers skills, which means high.
Q. When you say your denim trousers are 100% sewn by hand, do you really mean no machines are used ?
The unique, bespoke Nadel & Pen pieces are 100% sewn by hand… that means absolutely no sewing machines are involved, not only we do pin tuck stitches, fully felted stitches, all by hand, but we also take inspiration from what I learned, back in the days when I was working in the Haute Couture, here in Paris. Until know, you heard, or have seen seen, incredibly skillful French craftsman ship on princesses dresses…. Now these techniques are used to build the most exciting denim trouser you can imagine. I am working with skilled workers from the Haute Couture and they hand sew these pieces of art, with die-hard, glazed and hand waxed threads, here in our office, mixing my "denim knowledge and passion" with Haute Couture "savoir-faire". When you have a look at our slideshow and pictures, you will notice how many incredible and almost invisible, natural fusibles , stitches, embroideries, build the difference to anything else you ever saw… It’s all hand embroidered, hand sewn, here in France… true 100% "Made in France", bespoke, created for each exclusive customer with a privatized design-studio service.
Q. I understand that some very exclusive trims are used in your jeans – whether its gold or silver buttons on which engraving is done by a jeweler or exclusive pocket linings, monograms by hand etc. Pl tell me more about it .
As you might have understood, our service is all about subtle elegance, no posh "showing off", so we do not propose diamonds and pearls "all over the place", still we are having a partnership with an artisan jeweler, who creates our shank buttons by hand. If the customer wishes, and most did so, we can then have their coat of arms, initials or company logos, get hand engraved in their button.
From far away it looks like a very nice shank-button, when looking close you see the fine artisan work & signature of the artist.
Q. You work only with Raw denim and there are no washes involved. Can you tell why you and your clients love only Raw Denim?
At Nadel & Pen, we believe that "used jeans" are fake testimonies of a past and present which isn’t the one of our unique customer. Our unique customer is acquiring a piece of art which will use and wear following the movements of the owners life, creating a "portrait" like usage. Never forget this denim pant is so resistant that it might pass on from generation to generation ! We also believe that "using" other than true collectible artisan selvage denim would be a real abuse, and not correspond to the demands of any connoisseur.
Q. The denim you use is is sourced from Japan and (maybe) Italy.. Why do you think need Japanese fabrics to create these jeans?
It’s not that much a question of providence, it’s rather because the places where we connected with these artisans are located in these countries. If I meet a true "blue blood" artisan in England, then some of the fabrications, which we exclusively source for each individual customer, would maybe come from England !
Q. Nadel & Pen is more of your passion than a business venture . It is also a very personal service with a deep involvement with the client. Do you wish to scale it up ?
Right, the fact that we have our "denim studio" running and fully booked, enables us to have our unique service Nadel & Pen running at it’s own pace. Which is slow, and that’s how we like it. No ranges, no fashion-weeks, no "people sponsoring", no PR bla-bla…. just feeling deep down in our hearts, that we are providing the maximum of what we can imagine. It is so fulfilling ! If one day, a business partner steps up to me, who shares our point of view, maybe we could look forward to opening a "Savile Row" kind of workshop, not making suits, not using machines, but creating the most exciting purist indigo elegance.