If you want a thing done well, do it yourself
To many of us in the raw denim world, this old English proverb might mean something along the lines of visiting a bespoke jean maker for hemming, or even tapering a pair of selvedge ourselves. In 2011, when Ryan Perkins struggled to find a pair of ideal fitting selvedge jeans that didn’t burst his student bank account, he took the literal meaning of the proverb and decided to hand-make himself a pair to fit his exact standards.
Whilst studying Mechanical Engineering in Michigan, it was a case of being in the right place in the right time when Perkins stumbled upon an old Singer 401 sewing machine on the side of the road. He taught himself to use it in making his first pair of selvedge jeans.
Through sewing that first pair, he discovered how rewarding designing and creating such a personal and loved article of clothing could be. By the time he graduated, his passion for engineering had all but transferred to sewing custom jeans.
In saying that, there is no doubt that Perking’s engineering background has heavily influenced his work as RPMFG (Ryan Perkins Manufacturing). In his own words, no aspect of the products produced by RPMFG is taken for granted.
One of the most important principles is that every design element has a rational decision behind it…every new process, material, skill, tool, can and should lend something new to the design.
Perkins is not a man who will do something for the sake of doing it. Although limiting in the sense that the only way it would work is for him to be sewing everything himself, he’s not bothered. As he explains, “somehow it works, somehow I’m making a living, and I feel really lucky to be doing what I love”.
As a truly one man brand, Perkins takes care of every aspect of the business from the branding, graphic design and web development, to sourcing, pattern development, taxes, and quality control.
However, despite this solo effort, the jeans produced by RPMFG are seemingly some of the most stylish available and are a true testament to not only the client, in the way that a bespoke product should be, but also the founder’s passion for the craft.
In 2013, Perkins will aims to move RPMFG out of his kitchen and into an old industrial building in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His clients will be able to visit him, have any jean alterations, and receive a first hand view into how the products are made. Collaborations with well-respected brands are also in the pipeline as we will be following RPMFG’s progress.