STAFF STYLE

How to Customize Your Denim

March 13, 2020

We always describe Levi’s® as a blank canvas for customization. Some of our fans (like the flower children who embroidered their Woodstock bell bottoms) instinctively know what to do. But if you need a little inspiration, you can take your cues from this installment of our monthly Staff Style column, where two of our own show you how they’ve customized their personal denim.

THE STAFFERS

Nick Marino (our Global Copy Director) and Daisy Hartmann (a Tailor in the Tailor Shop at our San Francisco Headquarters).

Daisy learned to sew at age seven. “My grandmother was a textile designer and fashion designer,” she says, “and I always wanted to follow in her footsteps. I got a design degree from FIT, so I have a technical background in fashion design.”

Nick can’t sew. Like, at all. “If I’d tried to sew this jacket,” he says, “I’m fairly certain I would end up with nine fingers. And no jacket.”

THE CUSTOM PIECE

On Daisy: A pair of vintage, light-wash, paper-thin jeans that she customized herself—repairing hole after hole, and adding ornamentation along the way. “I always wear them cuffed,” Daisy says, “to see the selvedge seam and the flowers I embroidered on the inside.”

On Nick: A charcoal Trucker Jacket that he had customized at the Tailor Shop…by Daisy. “I bought this Trucker specifically to have it customized,” he says. “I’m in the Tailor Shop at least once a week, probably much to Daisy’s dismay, because I’ve always got a million projects for her.” 

THE BACKSTORY

Daisy: “I got these jeans at a Brooklyn vintage shop five or six years ago,” she says. “This was before I started working for Levi’s®. And every time they’d rip, I’d repair them on my own—either by hand or on my sewing machine. Then once I learned how to properly darn denim, I started doing that. Just in order to be able to wear them, I had to repair them.”

Nick: “I wanted this jacket to be a nostalgic tribute to Florida in the late 1980s and early ’90s. I grew up in Orlando, listening to the gnarliest rap records I could find, and this Miami group 2 Live Crew was huge in my world—their songs had so much bass, they’d rattle your trunk. So to make this piece I went online and ordered a band T-shirt for the back, plus a little pink flamingo patch for the front. The combo is just so Florida.”

HOW THEY'RE CUSTOMIZED

Daisy: Needless to say, she did it all herself. “The most common places in jeans that need repairs are the seat and crotch—and then with older vintage denim, it’s usually the knees,” she says. “So you might need to reinforce them.” She patched her knees in contrasting raw dark denim. “And then there are some patches on the back that are scraps from old jeans. The white crosses on the butt are sashiko, which is a Japanese form of mending. It’s meant to be ornamental, but also useful.”

 Nick: He designed the piece and then had Daisy do the stitching. “We fit the shirt logo between the seams and made it one big back panel,” he says. “And then opposite the flamingo, we added our own sashiko for purely cosmetic reasons. I love wearing this jacket and remembering what it was like to be a kid with a red-hot cassette deck.”

Got a custom idea of your own? See our DIY guide or visit your local Levi’s® Tailor Shop, where our tailors can make your vision a reality.

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