Lawless Denim: Rebellion With a Cause

Situated between a Verizon store and a bowling alley, the entrance to Lawless Denim appears as nondescript as the rest of downtown Phoenix’s glossy CityScape. But from the moment you walk in to the cool interior, you realize that you've stumbled upon something special. Immaculately made jeans hang from crisscrossed ropes to create a denim archway. The music, set to the perfect volume, is so effortlessly cool it convinces you that you too can pull off one of the buttery leather jackets that adorn the walls.

To your left you can catch a glimpse of the workroom, dominated by a huge cutting table, patterns organized against the wall and a giant American flag hanging from the ceiling.  To your right, rolls of selvedge denim (a term that derives from “self edged,” referring to the finished edges of the fabric) line the walls beside displays crafted as carefully as the merchandise.

The decor at Lawless Denim is a unique blend of the artisanal and the industrial. The denim and leather goods take center stage, but you’ll also see the shelves peppered in vintage cameras and heavy black sewing machines, most of them in perfect working order. Motorcycle helmets and goggles hang above the leather jackets and a painting of James Dean looks on from the corner, an avatar of the American style that Lawless Denim embodies. You get the feeling that this American rebel would get his jeans here too.

Roman Acevedo, Founder and President of Lawless Denim & Co., perfectly captures what Lawless is all about. In a simple black tee and a beautiful pair of dark indigo jeans made from a rare “rainbow selvedge,” revealed by the crisp cuff above his heavy boots, his salt-and-pepper hair slicked back from his face, Acevedo embodies the timeless cool that is Lawless.

Originally from San Diego, Acevedo’s background is in food. He trained as a chef at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. After a few years back in California, he returned to Phoenix ready for a change. A self-proclaimed denim enthusiast, Acevedo’s true passion is for American manufacturing. Almost everything you see in the store is created by Lawless Denim right in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Acevedo believes that “American Made” should not mean out of reach. Each pair of jeans is ethically sourced and lovingly crafted by American artisans, and Acevedo believes that they should also be affordable, not despite the fact that they are American Made, but because of it.

Transparency, says Acevedo, is something that he wishes there were more of in American manufacturing. He doesn’t just talk the talk. Customers can see Lawless jeans being crafted while they’re being measured for their own custom pair. The small workroom, though still in use, no longer meets the high demand. Lawless Denim & Co. now needs a larger workspace. Most of the vintage machines on which the clothes are crafted have already been moved to the factory space, also in downtown Phoenix and there is currently a Kickstarter campaign to buy more machines so that the company can hire even more American craftsmen. Vintage looms are also in place in the factory waiting to create the first batch of Lawless American-made chambray denim.  Soon enough, you’ll be able to buy a pair of Lawless jeans where even the fabric was crafted in Phoenix.

Buying a pair of jeans from Lawless Denim & Co. is a completely different experience from a couple of hours spent trying on ill-fitting jeans in a cramped dressing room. It begins with the perfect denim. Most of these denims come in batches of 50 to 100 yards, and once it’s gone it can’t be restocked making each pair of jeans something truly special. Roman asks what pair of jeans you have in mind. Perhaps you describe a vintage-inspired pair of high-waisted cigarette jeans that end right above where an ankle strap would hit and Roman helps you select a beautiful (and rare) dark indigo denim with a white selvedge. Unlike most selvedge denim, this one has some stretch. Roman says it will be perfect for skinny jeans.  

Next, he asks if you prefer a zipper or button fly and then you can pick out every detail down to the color of the stitching on your custom jeans and the fabric that will line all the pockets. You might pick black and copper buttons, gray stitching, and a dark plaid fabric in greens and blue for the pocket lining that goes beautifully with the deep blue of the denim.

After you’ve designed your jeans, you are measured so that they will fit you perfectly. They take ten different measurements to ensure the perfect fit. Here’s where it’s handy to come dressed in pants, as you’re going to get up close and personal measuring everything from your waist to the exact lengths of the front and back rises.

And then you’re done. A month or so later, you return for a second fitting and if the custom jeans aren’t to your liking they make you a new pair and sell the old ones at a steeply discounted price. It can take as little as ten minutes to design your own custom jeans, which at Lawless Denim you can get for less than the price of a new pair of Sevens.  

At Lawless Denim you can feel great, not only about your new pair of jeans but about everything that went into making them. With customer service that makes buying jeans enjoyable rather than painful and a real commitment to quality and American industry, Lawless Denim & Co. is revolutionizing the way that consumers experience shopping. Here, every pair of jeans is the perfect pair of jeans.  

[Don't miss Lawless Denim, TFW 2014's Featured American Made Designer, at the TFW 2014 Launch Party at Connect Coworking on October 16th in downtown Tucson, where they will reveal LD & Co., their brand new ready-to-wear line. Purchase your tickets here.]

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Anonymous said...

Nice article but chambray and denim are two different fabrics, might want to correct that one

Adaleta said...

What a wonderful post!