Hidden in a nondescript business park across the street from a Home Depot on the border of La Habra and Brea is one of the coolest experiences any denim snootist—or really, anyone—could enjoy.
Mychael Darwin Jeans offers a one-of-a-kind, premium-denim experience: Have a short inseam? Freakishly tall? Want purple stitching, double-silk pockets and/or 24-karat gold buttons? Mychael Darwin can do that, building jeans as extravagant or as classic as you want.
Though Mychael Darwin is still a young label—just 3 years old and starting its official foray into a denim line—the eponymous designer behind the line has two decades’ worth of fashion experience, attending Fullerton College, interning with Kevan Hall, working with Bijan, dabbling in television and finally starting up his namesake line. Darwin’s client list includes Demi Moore, Denzel Washington, Diddy, various NBA players and even Michael Jackson (and the answer is yes, Darwin has been to Neverland Ranch, and yes, it was glorious), but none of that’s important when you get to chat with Darwin himself about denim.
He spoke of his love for vintage denim—when blue jeans still felt like blue jeans and it took months to properly break in a pair. While American denim once reigned, Japanese and Italian raw denim (offered by Mychael Darwin Jeans) are now widely accepted as the highest quality available. The Darwin workspace even houses some vintage machines made by Union Special, Singer and Juki.
“Denim started here in the USA,” Darwin explains. “We want to re-establish premium denim here in Orange County.”
He flips a pair of his jeans inside-out and shows off what’s called selvage denim: clean, natural edges, with no frays or stray threads, known for its durability.
“You can wear these inside-out if you want!” he says.
A typical fitting experience at Mychael Darwin starts with a visit to the workshop, where you’ll try on a pair. And that’s when the adjustments start: list what feels right, what feels wrong, pick your denim, your wash, length, cut. Next? Darwin and his staff cut and sew your new jeans, which will be shipped to you within two weeks if you’re local. The pattern is also kept on file in case you want more in the future.
Of course, custom jeans don’t come cheap: Prices start at $250. However, Darwin claims his jeans will last four to five years. “There’s more of the intial output, but it’s double the lifetime just off the rack,” he says.
Don’t have time to stop in for a fitting? Darwin also offers a mail-in service, in which you ship them your favorite pair of jeans along with a photograph of you in them, and they’ll re-create the fit in about 15 business days.
And if you have no idea what looks best for you, Darwin’s there for you, too: He insists he’d never let a client look bad.
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“Especially if they’re going to be wearing our brand,” he says with a smile. “I’m not going to let you go out looking muffin-top-ish in Mychael Darwin jeans. We’re free of muffin diseases.”
Mychael Darwin Jeans, 511 S. Harbor Blvd., Studio L, La Habra, (877) 692-4235; www.mychaeldarwinjeans.com.
This column appeared in print as "The Genie of Jeans."