One-of-a-kind jeans are bound to have a great tale behind them….the process, sewers, history, materials, design, and soul. My Stronghold jeans have some serious soul and let me tell you we are going to have a heck of a good (old-fashioned) time together. The fit, oh the fit….it’s like that lopsided grin worn just right…determined and indestructible. I feel more 1950s drifter than 21st century hipster in my finely crafted jeans….like they are meant for grassy hills, old barns, creek beds, and warm summer nights on Megunticook Lake in a small boat with friends and a sufficient amount of cold beer.
Established in 1895 The Stronghold was the first denim brand manufactured in Los Angeles, and operated continuously until its closure in 1949. In 2004 North Beach Leather (a brand supposedly worn by none other than Elvis!) creative alumni Michael Paradise and Von Dutch veteran Michael Cassell resurrected the heritage denim brand. Forget the 50 or so years in-between, these jeans have never gone out of style.
I guess you could say I love my Stronghold jeans. Is this really surprising to anyone who knows me that I would? American made, hand sewn, denim (my favorite fabric and folks this was long before the current head to toe trend), practical, and beautiful. Their shop on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice is lovely, a charming and warm experience. **The brand can also be found at Bergdorf Goodman and Jeffrey in Manhattan and online via Orvis.
Rather than try to describe the brand entirely on my own, I thought it best to get some help from the gentleman who sold me my jeans…readers meet Ryan Gray….
Who were some of the early well known persons to wear Stronghold jeans – I remember a picture of Charlie Chaplin for instance hanging in the shop. Did he/any other film stars wear them in “real life” or the cinema?
RG: Denim Blue Jeans did not make it into mainstream fashion until the late 1950′s, but most of all old Hollywood cinema used Stronghold for costume wardrobe because they were the workwear brand of Los Angeles from 1895 to 1949. I.E. Grapes of Wrath with Henry Fonda.
The jeans seem to have had a purpose and in the history of the company many stories. Have the owners been able to relocate/purchase some original Stronghold jeans?
RG:There are quite a few collectors throughout the world that have acquired and collected old Stronghold pieces and have quite a bit of value. The company today has acquired a few pieces to keep in archive as we are trying to continue to keep the detailing as close to all the original pieces.
Would it be correct to say each pair of Stronghold jeans has “one-of-a-kind charm”…whether or not the pair of jeans is tailored…? What about the jeans being a testament to preserving the lost art of hand-building clothing?
RG:Of course, every jean is handled, cut and sewn with care. All rivets are hand hammered and the buttons are three pieces. Every step of the jeans construction is with care and passion.
Has Stronghold inspired any projects i.e. home furnishings, books…?
RG:The Stronghold has the goal of being the quintessential American Luxury Brand and stay true to the craftsmanship, heritage and premium quality in many different markets.
Of all the denim trends, which do you think has lasting quality – skinny jeans, jeggings, washed out jeans, over-decorated jeans…?
RG:Denim Blue Jeans will never go out of style. Cuts, Washes, colors and embellishments always come and go just like most brands….
The current denim head-to-toe jean look has me thinking can you wear too much denim?
RG:I wear head to toe denim all the time, the key is always to mix truly worn pieces/vintage with your newer dark denim or chambray.
There it is folks…see you around town in my Strongholds!
All photos by Jacques Miakinen. Merci beaucoup Jacques for allowing me to use your beautiful photographs!! **Please do not use Jacques photographs without his permission. Comment below and I’ll be happy to forward your request (this includes reposting onto Pinterest).
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