A trifecta of exclamation points – !!! – was required to express how I felt when I learned that Nina Garduno, the founder of L.A.’s superloved FreeCity line, had just launched a capsule collection of blue jeans. It’s about time, I thought, recalling the vintage Levi’s she’d covered in metal studs and rhinestones under the R.H. Vintage label that grew out of my family’s store on Melrose more than a decade ago (I still have pairs of those denim gems buried deep in the back of my closet; their story is a good one worth telling another time).
Patched jeans, we know, are raging right now, but few have been executed as gorgeously as Nina’s – with artsy, anti-efficient craftiness and care. Or – faster said – with love. The kind that involves gently washing, binding, air-drying, almond-oiling, stitching, and detailing every pair, which she does after receiving them all at the FreeCity workshop from Japan, where their basic selves are made. “It’s a very tender, kid-glove process,” Garduno says of the supertreatment she puts her jeans through. “It’s time consuming.” The patches, made of tech-y tent fabric, suede, chambray, leather, and more denim, are sewn on in loose formulas (#1, #3, #5, and #7), from which to choose. Don’t care for the patches? The unisex style comes without them, too. Garduno also offers the option to customize. “In the Supershop we do spontaneous combinations,” she explains, adding that the jeans do come with the safety pin hooked to the front belt loop, but not with the bandanna in the back pocket that she wears below. As for her decision to use a denim with absolutely zero stretch it in? “I like to feel jean when I’m wearing jeans…if you get what I mean.”
Designer Nina Garduno in her FreeCity jeans (#1). Photographs by the FreeCity Workshop.
FreeCitySupershop, 1139 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA; 323-461-2226