You focused solely on the West Coast.
Yeah, all the good denim is on the west coast. And they all work and produce in one place, actually—Vernon, which is a sub-section of downtown Los Angeles.
What differences did you find between the denim trade and the high-end fashion?
Denim is complicated—the fit on jeans is critical, and very difficult. There are a myriad of factors, starting with the way denim shrinks, reacts and ages after any of the huge variety of wash processes. Peter Kim of Hudson jeans rightly compared it to making wine.
Biggest surprise while filming?
I never knew that every detail is created by hand. Whether drilling, stiching, sanding or spraying with acid, it's all done piece by piece. You want a hole? It's maybe 50 cents each. It's labor intensive and time consuming and it's tough labor.
When documentary filmmaker Douglas Keeve heard about the dog-eat-dog world of high-end denim, he knew it was ripe for exploring. So the director behind such fashion world favorites at Seamless and Unzipped took off for the denim washhouses of Los Angeles. We asked him about the result—a four-part web-series, Dirty Denim, available now on the Sundance Channel.