“New jeans, when they’re made to look old, look fake,” said Jamie Mazur, the co-founder of Los Angeles-based Re/Done. “So the reason vintage Levi’s are great is that someone actually bought them brand new and wore them for years and they developed a natural fade. And that’s why they’re beautiful.” Re/Done’s office and factory is located in an industrial area south of Boyle Heights. Outside of the nondescript beige building an older woman sells jugos frescas. Inside, Mazur and co-founder Sean Barron oversee an open-concept office, dozens of employees and a trove of vintage Levi’s.
Mazur started Re/Done after noticing a trend in the women’s denim market. “A lot of my cool girl friends that are in fashion all bought vintage Levi’s and tailored them, so they fit them perfect like modern jeans,” he said. So Mazur worked with Barron for nine months to develop a pattern that could transform old vintage jeans into a tailored modern-fit garment. When their initial run of 100 pieces sold out almost immediately, the duo knew they had a winning idea. Levi’s approached Re/Done to create a co-branded label, licensing the name of the company for the first time in its 163-year history. “The company’s all about embracing these American heritage brands that have pioneered fashion in so many ways, but aren’t necessarily celebrated in the luxury space,” said Mia Zee, who heads up Re/Done’s marketing.
In Europe, the luxury brands — Prada, Balmain, Balenciaga — are heritage brands, whereas in the US, the heritage brands don’t have a share of the luxury market. “Most of these companies — heritage brands — are these huge mass-market brands, that aren’t really thinking, ‘Hey, how can I build a twenty- to thirty-million-dollar division, appealing to the luxury market?’” Mazur said. “They’re like, ‘I just want to figure out how to optimize our three-billion-dollar-a-year mass-market business.’” So Re/Done aims to fill that niche, elevating American heritage brands through updating fit and construction for the modern consumer.
Initially, Re/Done started with women’s jeans, but have since expanded to include a range of men’s styles. The company sources vintage Levi’s from around the country, and sorts them at their factory. “We’re taking the advantage of all these jeans that are sitting in warehouses that nobody wants because the fit is bad, but the jean is beautiful,” Mazur said. Not every jean makes the cut. The best vintage jeans have a prevalent high/low contrast, whiskering and unique character (e.g. wear patterns, paint splatters). Each jean is measured, then taken apart: the waistband is removed, the legs are opened and the fabric is cut to a pattern. “From there it’s basically the same as you’d make a new pair of jeans, just one by one,” said Zee, of the full reconstruction.
Each pair is photographed and offered for sale on Re/Done’s website, so potential consumers can pick a vintage style that matches their taste. As the company has grown, Mazur has set his sights on refining other American staples. “I’m always in vintage shops, and the best old t-shirts are old Hanes t-shirts,” he said. “You can’t get a t-shirt like that today.” With that inspiration, Re/Done began reproducing a range of vintage-inspired Hanes shirts. Not limiting the brand to just clothing, Mazur also has plans for updating American sunglasses and penny loafers. Leaning on his desk, surrounded by vintage ephemera, Mazur cracked a confident smile. “Re/Done is a platform to be creative and do whatever the hell we feel like doing.”