The story behind how our leather patch and how it came about is that it was born out of necessity. When we started the brand, the goal was to be as vertically integrated as possible. This meant doing as many things in house as we possibly could. When we learned what the order minimums were to have patches made, it was way out of our price range. So we got creative.
We knew we wanted to use real leather, and wanted to try and be unique, but still have a process that was as repeatable as possible, to keep our cost down. After many ‘ideas’ we started searching the internet for custom branding irons. We finally found a guy in Minnesota who makes these for living, and it was an added bonus that he is in the United States, which was another goal of ours; staying in the US as much as possible on anything production related.
The process is pretty simple, but very custom. We start with a side of 4-5 oz. vegetable tanned leather. Tim does the cutting and Matt does the branding. It is always done this way mainly because Matt has the golden touch with the iron. It is a very delicate process, because the iron reaches over 400 degrees, and too much or too little pressure results in an unusable patch. Since we’ve made thousands of these, he’s gotten pretty good at it, however not without consequence (which you’ll see below). He estimates about 80-90% accuracy, in terms of no ‘misfires’. We’ll take that type of precision on something like this, any day. In short, he’s gotten very ‘locked in’ with all that practice.
This process results in a leather patch that is, to our knowledge, the only hand-branded patch in the game. We like to think it’s the most unique one out there, because no two are exactly the same. Each patch will develop its own patina over time, based on the person who wears it. In this pic, from the bottom up, you’ll see ‘The Jameson’ in Selvage with a brand new patch before any light oxidation. Next is ‘The Johnny’ in BLK Chino, showing a patch after about 20 wears and the chance for some ‘tanning’ from various light sources. At first, we were surprised to learn that leather continues to tan from the sun or regular house lights. The last one on the top is ‘The Johnny’ in Raw, after 18 months, 1 soak and 100+ wears. As you can see, the leather patch will continue to age right along with the denim, in a manner that is custom to the person wearing it. Some patches have scars on them, some the brand may be slightly off center, and some may be a tad on the well done or rare side. Whatever the case, this process is how we leave our signature on every single pair.
As mentioned above, about Matt being pretty good at the branding, but not without consequence; The picture below shows the potential hazards of handling a piece of metal that is over 400 degrees. This is a classic example of why they say ‘Kids, don’t try this at home.’ : )