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Meet...Shawn Joswick, Denim Guru

Based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Shawn does all things denim: repairing, designing, reworking and even making turtle-shaped pincushions (hey, sometimes the creative spirit just moves you). We visited Shawn’s studio, filled with every sewing machine needed to make jeans from scratch, and talked with him about how he caught the denim bug, his one denim pet peeve and how he customized a pair of our own chinos with denim.

A denim-turtle pincushion.

“My grandmother was a seamstress, so I grew up around sewing. I was also super into skateboarding, and I asked my grandma to tailor my clothes to look more like those of my West Coast idols. When I moved to the city from upstate New York in ’98, I was a showroom model and started learning about selvedge and all these things, and since I could sew, I made my first pair of jeans then and started doing repairs. I wish I had learned how to read or meet girls or something, but I just love making stuff. I like to get weird in the studio.”

Shawn with a gigantic pair of jeans he made.

“I have a lot of antique, turn-of-the-century machines. I would liken them to muscle cars: They’re not necessary; it’s just fun to find and collect them. They’re kind of like baseball cards—they’re valuable to the people they’re worth something to.”

“Wash your jeans! Don’t be a savage. Yes, to a certain extent, not washing your jeans will help you get deeper fades, but by the same token, you’re ruining them—they start getting oily and weird and it breaks down the fabric, which leads to more blowouts and tears. Cotton needs to breathe. Guys are trying to emulate fades from vintage jeans, but what they don’t realize is that everyone washed their jeans back then.”

“I reworked two pairs of size 38 waist J.Crew chinos to fit a size 31 waist because I wanted to create a pant with a fuller fit. Each idea comes to me organically with the basic approach of making something fit me, then the rest just presents itself. For me, that’s the best way to work—I don’t think the ideas would flow as well if I sat down and thought them out first. Also, it’s always fun and challenging to give something a new life through reworking it.”
Photographs by Backyard Bill.
Grooming by Linda Shalabi at See Management.

Shop all denim here.

Shop the men’s collection here.


TAGS: mens, chinos, denim, DIY, meet, behind the scenes, brooklyn