It seems that these days new denim brands are dime a dozen. As positioned in our past state of the union article, newer brands are really having to differentiate themselves in order to set themselves apart from the rest. I abide by that criteria myself whenever I evaluate brands to feature on Heddels.
Billiam Jeans just happens to be one of the companies that stands separate from the others. Established in late 2010 in the bustling city of Greenville, South Carolina, they offer a small range of men’s and women’s basics and jeans; the latter of which is sourced from the nearby Cone Mills for it’s raw and stretch option. They have also begun to offer denim made of recycled materials.
What’s more though is that Billiam donates 20% of their proceeds to charities combatting human sex trafficking.
We caught up with the Billiam owner, Bill Mitchell, who revealed that he had noticed quite a few brands giving to a cause in some way, shape, or form. But he found that most of their products seemed to be lacking in quality and craftsmanship. When he turned his eye to the denim scene he saw so many brands making quality product but showing little or no effort to donate to or help a cause.
Mitchell and his team at Billiam believe strongly in fighting sex trafficking, “We believe that no detail lasts forever and all the quality (of the garments) will fade over time but the impact we can make on the lives of people will last forever.” Mitchell goes on to explain that the fact that the brand donates 20% of it’s profits was not something that was cooked up as a marketing technique, as they don’t mention it up front while conducting of business. It’s not even on the home page of their website or in many of their social media posts.
Billiam Jeans began when Mitchell began deconstructing garments to investigate how they were made. Eventually his curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to attempt to create something of his own. A trip to the fabric store got him a template for a pair of jeans and 6 yards of denim. He recalls, “the jeans were terrible, but I could wear them and was proud of them.”
After learning about Cone Mills and their famed product, Mitchell set to perfecting his craft. Within the first two years of Billiam existing as a brand he had developed three fits for men and a single fit for women. Mitchell later befriended a Greenville leather smith who taught him the trade, empowering Billiam to begin producing their own leather goods and custom leather patches for the back of their jeans.
In addition to more conventionally made denim, Billiam also offers denim from Cone Mills made from recycled materials. Mitchell says his customers are usually ecstatic to learn of the blending of traditional and modern conventions in their jeans, some of which feature denim made from recycled beer bottles.
Mitchell notes that though there is nothing wrong with using traditionally made denim, he has seen that the companies who have the most longevity usually find some way to incorporate newer technology into their products. By using these new technologies, he feels that Billiam will be free to grow and evolve over time.
Most recently, Billiam opened up a flagship store in Greenville and brought on four new members to the team including the brand’s creative director, Palmer Dill. They’re currently in the process of moving into a new storefront and production space so be sure to keep up with wherever they’re headed next.