“I’m five-foot-seven and 130 pounds and I don’t want to wear girls’ jeans,” explains Chris Sutton during a summertime tour of his Over-the-Rhine apartment-cum-workshop. Many an entrepreneur has started a business with a similar sentiment: I need a _____. And last year, to fill in the blank that Sutton had in his wardrobe, he began making jeans. Sutton had no experience sewing, but he bought himself a Singer on eBay and gave it a try, hand-cranking the needle on his first pair of jeans because the machine was too fast. A month later they were finished. He started a second pair. What did he want to do differently? “Everything,” he says.Thus began Sutton’s self-education in jean construction. He scored an overlock machine off Craigslist, made more jeans, and gave them to friends to try and critique, all the while researching sustainable, American suppliers (like YKK buttons from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and North Carolina’s Cone Mills selvage denim) and desperately trying to find a mentor—anyone really, who could help him refine his technique. By late spring, with his sewing and styling getting better and better, he decided to start selling under the name Noble Denim. This summer, Sutton moved into a new studio at the Anchor Building in Northside; he launches online sales November 1. He currently offers selvage edge jeans for men at $250 a pair. “If something is made out of great materials it’s going to last and feel great,” Sutton says. “Like a home-grown organic tomato tastes great.”nobledenim.com
Photographs by Jonathan WillisOriginally published in the November 2012 issue
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