Jeans are supposed to be sturdy, but who knew they’d survive for centuries, stuffed into attic walls? A real-life Grizzly Adams, The Denim Whisperer (who prefers to stay nameless,) is a successful businessman who shares his compadre Donwan’s denim obsession. D.W. made a life-changing discovery while gutting a Midwestern fixer-upper – he pulled jeans dating back two hundred years out of crumbling brickwork, where it had been used as insulation.
As well as the stains and tears of long-gone toil, mice had chewed some of the denim into lace; but still, the jeans miraculously survived, in all their tattered defiance of time and the elements.
The workmanship and ingenuity that went into these prototypical working men’s pants were a revelation. These jeans were like the Rosetta Stone, unlocking the deep secrets of denim manufacture when tailors were inventors, making it up as they went along from whatever they could find.
The Denim Whisperer started his search in earnest and began combing industrial and rural areas for the oldest buildings. Most homeowners were amazed to discover that work clothes which their great-grandparents might have worn, were still being used in the roof to keep the damp out. Stored in the Prps archive of rare denim, their faded glory inspires all our jeans.
Lovers of the pleasingly perverse, consider this: PRPS is to regular denim as a fine-cut diamond is to an unpolished gem. Each has its value, significance and power – but the fine-cut stone sparkles brighter.
The level of dedication and craft that goes into PRPS NOIR jeans, our bespoke collection, and all our jeans, may seem a great irony – all that costly art and skill lavished on what began as basic workers’ dungarees. Yet the rigorous spirit that propels us at PRPS and to which all our jeans pay homage is that of the first denim tribe: the late 19th century American workers, men who set out to pan for gold and battle bears, lay the rails and ride them; and the tailors who followed them, to stitch serious workwear by candlelight. Their life was a struggle, but they were determined. Every unique PRPS button and whiskering, the originality in our chemical replication of vintage washes, all reflect our respect for the originators of the jeans industry. Many of the men who built the jeans business were new Americans -- East European Jewish and Chinese immigrants escaping poverty and oppression in their homeland; not so different from today, then.
With all our love of the past, PRPS add innumerable levels of complexity and sophistication to the original, primitive process of making men’s denim wear.
The aged rips and stains that PRPS evoke in our original denim treatments, happened by chance. Such is life. In fact, the essence of what drove competition between jeans manufacturers –how to add durability to garments subjected to grueling conditions by strengthening stress points – also sprang from one fellow’s bright idea as he was tinkering at his workbench.
As he boards the Shinkansen train at Tokyo Railway Station, Donwan Harrell tingles with excitement. He is not embarking on a regular business trip – he’s already had plenty of those, as the Head Designer on the Pacific Rim for Nike and others – but more of a mystic quest. In seeking the sacred source of Japanese denim, he is tracing the core of what moves him and chasing a personal challenge. Still only aged 42, Donwan had already proved himself time and again in the cutthroat world of high style global athletic wear, using psychological as well as design skills to penetrate untapped markets. Now he has set himself a new goal; to make immaculately flawed jeans, perfected with artistry, conceived and created between America and Japan.