We’ve seen so many trends come and go in the fickle world of fashion. But over the past few decades, I’ve noticed a constant: denim. Whether it’s printed, acid washed, light, dark, torn, studded, cuffed, skinny, or boot cut – it has a special place in our closets, helping us transition from day to night with ease.
With such commercial success, just about every retailer sells a denim pant but very few work with this fabric to create a really exceptional style and fit. That is until PRODUCT was introduced to Outsider Denim – a company rooted in the classic tradition of denim wear with inspiration from effervescent decades past. With excitement, I was eager to chat with co-founder of Outsider Denim, Colin Cripps to discuss music, denim, and how his company is carving out a niche within Toronto’s fashion scene, with a return to quality denim with a vintage flare.
Colin was born and raised just outside of Toronto, in Hamilton, where he developed an interest in music at a young age. He was instantly enamored by the look, sound, and feel of Rock and Roll and decided to pursue a career as a guitarist. With great success as a record producer and as a performer, Colin has performed on some of North America’s best stages with internationally known talent. That is where Colin’s flare for music and fashion began to co-exist. Colin explains, “I’ve always been an avid vintage denim collector and I used to wear a lot of LVC [Levis Vintage Collection]. Because I toured a lot, I would look for stuff on the road. I started buying and collecting, but it became more and more difficult to find good pieces when vintage became more popular.” The Rock and Roll lifestyle and interest in denim helped him cultivate his own unique style while maintaining a fresh and contemporary aesthetic which would later become the foundation of Outsider Denim.
Colin and his associate, Antonio Teixeira, started Outsider Denim back in 2008. Antonio also works in the music industry as a guitar amp manufacturer. So, the two were bound to cross paths. Colin describes Tony as more of a fashion guy, and that they share a similar aesthetic. After a conversation about the scarcity of great denim pieces, it was Tony who “planted the seed” to start their own denim company. “There was nothing too formal or strategic about starting our business. We thought that in the worst case scenario we would just make Jeans for each other,” says Colin with a laugh, “We make stuff we want to wear.”
Since 2008, the two have been hard at work with brand development, prototyping, and perfecting the cut of their denim. “We wanted a product that was very contemporary in fit with that vintage aesthetic that both Tony [and I] are drawn to.” As their company became a reality, so did their branding. Colin suggests that the product and the brand began to inform one another. The name Outsider Denim spawned from the idea of being the “other” or “not mainstream” – both terms that Colin acknowledges as a key selling factor of their brand. “It’s really about creating a lifestyle,” Colin explains. He admits that he and Tony have very little knowledge of the fashion industry or manufacturing, but insists that a quality product can sell itself and that the whole process has been a great learning experience. “We spent almost two years learning and developing but in 2010, we really got the business off of the ground and into stores.”
Outsider Denim gets their fabric from the United States but their apparel is made in Canada. Once they mastered the boot cut, they began to create prototypes for a straight fit. Both fit like they are tailored. Colin considers this feature as what makes their product contemporary and what showcases the quality. All of their clothing is made from salvage denim that is shrink-to-fit and comes in a dark blue wash. It is now sold in multiple stores in Toronto such as the Model Citizen, Philistine, and Simon Carter. Since perfecting the denim pant, Outsider Denim has expanded their line of products to include jackets and graphic t-shirts. “Our latest line of t-shirts has parlour cards on them. They look really cool because the people in them have similar looks to people [of] today.” Colin admits that he has been collecting these cards for quite some time and found that they were a perfect pairing for their line and brand representation.
When asked where Colin sees the company going in the next few years, he states that they hope to have a greater retail presence in more stores across Canada and the United States while continuing to develop their clothing line. “We’re in the process of creating a new wash – black denim.” They have also added another member to their team who covers media and marketing. As Outsider Denim continues to gain popularity with their very nonchalant yet seductive cool factor, I predict that Outsider Denim is simply here to stay. With denim lovers and musicians rocking this brand, it would be wise to follow suit and get inside a pair of Outsider Denim.
WORDS: JONATHAN BRODERICK
PHOTOS: ALEX BROWNE
CLOTHING: OUTSIDER DENIM
HAIR & MUA: NINA MULLER. JESSE YOUNG