Warning: this is one of those feel-good stories--and a very good one at that. The town of Cardigan, in Wales, was the centre of jean-making for years: it was the town's main industry. And in 2002 the factory closed down: 400 people who knew everything about making denim jeans were unemployed.
Enter David Hieatt, the former owner of howie's eco wear. He was looking for a new challenge.
What a combination: someone who knew the clothing business and how to make it grow, and a town where one in ten of the people knew how to make jeans. As he said: “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 result is Hiut, a new denim brand that will ‘do one thing well’: jeans. Their logo is an owl, hence the brand name, get it? Aimed at the high end in London and Japan, Hieatt believes they can make it work in Britain. The jeans will be made in Cardigan.
He believes that people want quality, not quantity. He writes: "Our love affair with cheap and throwaway is not over, but it is showing signs of being on the wane. A new mantra seems to have been adopted: buy less. but better."
The jobs may have been gone, but the skills remained. And people were desperate to use them again, and be back working at something productive. As he writes in his blog: "They all told me with a sparkle in their eyes that they were so excited. One lady said to me: “This is what I know how to do. This is what I do best.” I just sat there inspired by them."
The brand's slogan says it all: ‘our town wants to make jeans again.’
The jeans aren't out yet, but David Hieatt's blog is a lesson in how to build an ethical business. He lays it all out: watch every penny, no debt, small number of shareholders, do something you love, keep re-investing. And lastly:
23, Don’t be average.
Be great at what you do. Life is short.
Now bring on the jeans, and let's get going--they will be available next month.