Within the enormous tech bubble known as San Francisco, there is a growing number of people who are combining the techie mentality of constantly finding ways to do things better with the old school approach of taking time to assure that there is longevity in everything they make. Sure, like many tech companies, the results can be vary drastically, but for the founders of Jack/Knife Outfitters, they’ve found the balance to create products that draw on American heritage stylings but update their techniques to ensure that everything is made to last.
For a while now, Jack/Knife has primarily been known as a custom shop making bespoke jeans and small runs for retailers and brands. Started by Georgia natives, Nick and John, Jack/Knife began as a small operation making neckties in San Francisco and grew into making jeans, jackets, and shirts for both men and women when Melissa joined the team.
They work out of their small workshop right down the street from AT&T Park and make each piece by hand in their studio. While their bespoke business is still quite active, they’ve recently released their first collection of ready to wear clothes based off their core pieces that they’ve made for clients and includes a jean, jacket, vest, and two shirts with more releases planned for the future.
The Western Pocket Jean is Jack/Knife‘s flagship jean that features their unique western pocket. It’s a slim straight jean made from a hefty 14.6 oz sanforized Nihon Menpu selvedge denim and utilizes a 13 oz twill fabric for pocket bags and duck canvas lining for the back pockets. While chain stitching has become the standard for raw denim, they’ve opted to single stitch the entire jean by hand without the use of guides or double needle machines instead.
The reasoning behind this is simply that single stitching, or lock stitching, is a more durable and sturdier stitch. When combined with their use of a high stitch count, it increases the life of the jean significantly. The copper rivets are all hammered flat by hand to make it flush to the fabric and they’re reinforced with leather washers. To make extra sure that the jean will last, they’ve wrapped all the raw edges with cotton twill so there are no exposed edges.
The pockets were designed initially to make it easier to reach into the pocket while riding a motorcycle but after seeing how much easier the pockets were to get into in all aspects of life, they decided to make it their standard pocket. As they ramped up the amount of clothing they were making, they realized that they were slowed down by hand cutting the fabric with a more tradition saw and discovered that they could not only work faster but get much more precise and accurate cuts by using a more modern laser cutting method instead.
All in all, there are 80 steps that go into making the jean but the results are a pant that has a unique look but that doesn’t alienate those who prefer a traditional jean. Their denim is backed by a one year full wear and tear warranty where they’ll repair any damage or wear to the jean without extra charge.
As for the other pieces in their collection, the same attention to detail, techniques, and use of sturdier fabrics is upheld. The duck canvas barn coat and vest use a deadstock fabric from a now defunct mill, Graniteville Mills and their plaid flannel shirt also uses a 10.5 oz deadstock canvas from Cone Mills. Like with raw denim, the shirts and jackets all start off raw and unwashed so they’re stiff at first but after wearing and washing, the fabrics soften up and develop more character. They’ve also ventured into using Otter Wax on their jackets and vests to make them water repellant for those in wetter climates.
In their mission statement, Jack/Knife say that they’re “determined to redefine the environment of clothing manufacturing in the United States” and they seem hellbent on achieving that goal. They’re unapologetic and unwavering on their ideas and products and show no sign of slowing down. To find out more about them and their products, head on over to their website.