Atelier & Repairs has always stood out as a brand doing something different with denim. Patchworking and repairing, Atelier & Repair’s signatures, are not new concepts by any means. However, their approach to those two concepts is loud and creative in a way that I haven’t seen yet. Also, as a self-professed tree hugger, this upcycling vintage and used fabric thing that Atelier & Repairs does is my shit.
In the past few months, Atelier & Repairs has been making serious waves in menswear. They have been featured in high-profile curated spaces like B’s at Bergdorf Goodman (that Bruce Pask, the taste God, co-sign), are stocked in workwear purveyors like Blue in Green, have an ongoing collaboration with 18 East, and was highlighted by Nike’s Circular Design initiative as a case study for refurbishment of old garments.
In the Blamo! podcast episode with Maurizio Donadi, the founder of Atelier & Repairs, Donadi talked about how he was frustrated with overproduction and the obsession with growth in the clothing industry. As such, following his illustrious career with large brands such as Diesel and Giorgio Armani, he has settled on a brand model that ‘commits to not producing anything new’ with Atelier & Repairs.
Additionally, Donadi has worked at Levi’s, which is a good sign that he knows his stuff as his business revolves around cutting up said brand’s pants and stitching them back together.
After hearing that and seeing those jeans on the TL (timeline, for all you older than 35), I picked up a pair of their The Detroit model to see what they’re all about.
Retail Price: $375
Fit and Wearability
Tagged Size: 31
Waist: 16.5 inches
Rise: 11.5 inches
Thigh: 12.25 inches
Inseam: 28 inches
Hem Width: 7.25 inches
One thing I look for in the fit of a pant is how it works with different kinds of shoes. I personally like the silhouette of my footwear to be proportional to the cut of my pants. For example, I would usually pair a Chelsea boot (typically slim) with a slimmer, closer fitting pair of pants. Service boots and chunky derbies, on the other hand, go better with straighter fitting pants.
The Detroit has what I’d characterize as a cropped straight tapered fit. According to Atelier & Repair’s website, The Detroit is essentially a Levi’s 501 that’s cropped and tapered slightly. Its high-rise, loose through the thigh and slight taper below the knee makes for a modern relaxed fit that is, in my opinion, the perfect middle ground between a sloppy, loose fit and the carrot-shaped, relaxed tapered stuff Western Internet jeans enthusiasts are into these days.
Because of this, I found that The Detroit works well with a wide range of shoes. Paired with my Converse Chuck Taylor 70s, visvim Virgil boot, and Tricker’s Stow boot, the jeans never looked out of place. While it does work with slimmer boots like my R.M. Williams Chelseas, I’ve stayed away from that as I have relatively small feet and the wider hem of the jeans when cuffed further drowns out my feet. #small
Unfortunately, I made a sizing mistake on these as I assumed that the tagged size would correspond to the actual waist measurement. After cinching the waist with a belt, the jeans stay nice and secure on my body. However, because of how loose the pants are around the seat area, there is significant puckering and bunching up of fabric around the placket.
Additionally, because the patchwork sections are thicker than the body of the jeans, the jeans do not drape like jeans when seated or flow like jeans when in motion (fancy way of saying walking). This is not necessarily a bad thing as it has it’s own distinct way of fitting, but is something you should know if you’re expecting a jeans-lite experience as I was.
While the cut of The Detroit is relatively accomodating, the patchworked fabric is very showy, and is thus difficult to style without going overboard. Even though the patchwork fabrics are in similar shades of blue to the main jean fabric, they still act as the visual focal point in any outfit. As such, on warmer days, I found myself pairing it with just blank tees to allow the patchworking to carry the outfit.
In general, though, I find that it goes well with a Japanese workwear and Engineered Garments-esque wardrobe. Bruce Pask wears it well here with a solid navy chore coat and taupe Clarks chukka boots.
Fabric and Construction
The broken-in Levi’s 501 used as the base of The Detroit makes for one of the softest pant materials out there. It is denim-like in appearance, but light-chino-like in its pliability and soft hand feel. It also is not threadbare like you would expect of jeans that are this worn-in.
That is where praise of its comfort ends, though. I found that the patchwork sections by the thigh and knee areas are scratchy. It’s not too rough as to chafe the skin, but it is rough enough that it can be annoying when walking around in it.
As far as its construction goes, it’s excellent all around. The stitching on them is clean and without flaws or loose ends. I’ve worn them for a few months now and the jeans have yet to unravel or tear.
One minor gripe I have with the construction of The Detroit is the use of the reverse hem instead of a regular hem. I would’ve preferred to have the option to choose between a cuffed and uncuffed look, but the reverse hem forces a cuffed look from the get go.
In summary, while The Detroit has its quirks and isn’t exactly the most functional of pants, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience with it. Their take on patchworking in jeans — repair work on the outside — is also different from what you typically see from the visvims and Amiris of the world. Because of this, I think Atelier & Repairs is an exciting new brand and I’ll be on the look out for what they have in store.
Unfortunately, I will have to part with my pair of The Detroits because of the sizing mistake I made, but I will be on the hunt for my next A&R pants for sure.