Classic Style with Whiskey Stitched
By Griffin Nelson | Photography by Evermore Photo Co.
There’s nothing like talking to someone who makes clothes for a living to gain a greater appreciation for what I put on my body every day. Austin Stubbs, owner, maker, marketer, designer and wearer of all hats is the man behind Whiskey Stitched, a former brick-and-mortar Athens-based jean company now found on Instagram and Facebook at @whiskeystitched. During a period when “fast fashion” is around every corner, most consumers don’t have any idea where their clothes are made, how they are constructed, what kind of fabric they’re wearing or how it was processed, and they definitely don’t have any idea who made each individual garment hanging in their closet. Stubbs is on a mission to change that.
Whiskey Stitched adheres to what is known as the “Golden Era of Jeans” — around 1950–1979. However “denim” fabric and “jeans” were originally invented in the 19th century in response to westward expansion. There was a need for a durable fabric that was lighter and more breathable than wool, which didn’t modulate temperature very well and made it difficult to go from environment to environment as people moved west through snow, deserts, mountains and plains. An imported, high quality twill was initially used and was manufactured in two different cities, Neem, France and Genoa, Italy. Denim was invented in the United States based on that high quality twill and was referred to as being similar to the fabric “of Neem” or “de Neem” — “denim”. The pants that were made out of this denim material were made like those with fabric from Genoa, or “Geenoa” as it was pronounced, eventually being shortened to just “jeans.” The concept of denim fabric and jeans are inherently American and were quickly adapted into American culture.
Towards the end of the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution machines were invented to help make the production of jeans faster while maintaining higher quality. With the onset of World War II rationing, some adjustments to the manufacturing process were required, like the use of as little thread as possible and the elimination of metal rivets, materials needed to make uniforms and other products for war. As soon as the war was over production ramped up, quality was paramount as materials became available again. Jeans became a part of everyday fashion and not just workwear. Most of the machines used at Whiskey Stitched predate 1960 and the jeans themselves are fashioned based on the principles of this era, quality over quantity, jeans that are built to last.
“I grew up around sewing but didn’t consider doing it for a living until about eight years ago,” Stubbs says. Though he’d often up-cycle vintage clothing in high school, taking primarily denim and leather pieces and making them his own, he worked in the outdoor industry for a long time, sewing cycling and bike camping bags, repairing and building his own gear, thinking he’d left clothing in the past. Though, once he dipped his toe into the water of high quality denim clothing he couldn’t get enough.
After eight years in business he’s earned the title of “Denim Tailor,” a term used to describe those who design clothing in addition to sewing it. It takes more than the ability to run an antique machine to create a quality pair of jeans. “It became very important to me and our brand to build things with the highest quality standard that we can accomplish ... I don’t say this boastfully, I say it as objectively as possible, we make a quality of garment that I would pit against the highest manufacturer anywhere.” Stubbs rises to the challenge of creating a custom pair of jeans for any body type, it’s a labor of love to create each pair and the end result is a stunning product that will stand the test of time. If you can wear a piece of clothing for an extra nine months you can offset its carbon footprint by 30%. “The way I see it is if you can get nine more months out of something you can probably get nine more years out of it,” Stubbs points out. He stands by his clothing and though they rarely need it, would rather patch a pair of jeans than see it thrown away.
There is a lot of attention paid to the details in everything designed and created by Stubbs. Seams are sewn with three rows of stitching instead of two to make them stronger, an extra durable twill is used on the pockets to prevent holes and all fabrics and thread used are 100% cotton. Just as much emphasis is put on where the materials come from as how they’re used.
Everything is “Intentional meets Utilitarian,” Stubbs is taking the concept of fast fashion and turning it on its head. Just like a barrel of whiskey takes time to age and create an amazing drink, the perfect pair of jeans isn’t something that can be created overnight. It takes training, the right machines, high quality fabrics and the right fit. Whiskey Stitched is proof that you can create a beautiful, high quality pair of jeans, with care and precision that can be worn for years to come.