Andre Williams

Founder

From football to fashion, tell us a little bit about your journey to founding All Weather Selvedge Denim Co. (AW). 

I entered the fashion scene in 2015 while I was playing football in New York. My marketing agent introduced me to a young entrepreneur named Eamon Walsh, who was building a new luxury casual shoe line called OneGround. He wondered if I would be interested in creating a shoe to release alongside his. We came to an agreement and, with his guidance and creative resources, I created the Runningman shoe, an ultra low-top, Spanish handcrafted leather loafer.

I was super proud of the product I made and I'd fallen in love with the creative process along the way, but I questioned whether the market needed another shoe and what my drive for creating it was. Eventually, I admitted that the shoe had tons of style but it wasn't unique—the market wouldn't beg for it. I'd only created it because it was cool, not because there was a necessity for it. Either way, the Runningman shoe opened up doors in the fashion world that were unexpected. 

That following winter I met a brand developer from the city that was impressed with my shoe and my ambition. We struck up a three-hour conversation that left me with more knowledge about apparel and manufacturing from our one by-chance meeting than I had gained in the eight months it took me to develop the Runningman. It was during that meeting that I had the idea for jeans with an athletic fit and months later I was developing the first AW samples.

Talk about the mission behind the company—sustainable fashion is important to you. 

The mission of the company is to usher clothing, mankind's oldest technology, into a new era, in which we dispose of the idea of clothing as a commodity to be used up and thrown away. Instead I believe we can and should adopt a mindset in which the consumer views clothing as an investment, develops a relationship with it, and works with us to repair, replace and retire our products. As a company, I think we can and should adopt a mindset in which we recognize that business and clothing is as much about service as it is about product. We have a responsibility to our customers and to the Earth to be more intentional about creating quality products that last, be more intentional about developing eco-friendly methods of development and production and be more intentional about creating an infrastructure that can support the recycling of clothing fibers. 

Explain to readers the meaning behind the name of the company—and the significance of using selvedge fabrics.   

I named the brand All Weather Selvedge Denim Co. because I wanted to convey the idea that denim, especially our denim, is suitable for all occasions. I chose selvedge denim because it is the old style of denim that was originally patented by Levi Strauss in 1873 back when jeans were intended for workwear and had durability and high quality in mind. The strength of the fabric reflects those ideals. The denim is created on vintage shuttle looms from a single continuous weft yarn that has a clean, finished edge on either end of the fabric. You can notice this "self-edge" when the jeans are cuffed.

However, most denim is now made on projectile looms to save manufacturing time and cost. This comes at the expense of the quality of the denim. The United States no longer has any selvedge denim mills, with the last one closing in 2017, but since the ’50s, Japan has adopted and preserved the art of selvedge denim fabrics.

Tell us about the clothing that customers can shop at the store. 

I offer two denim lines. AW S1 “Workers & Travelers” features three fabrics from three different renowned selvedge mills in Japan. Each fabric is offered in raw, ripe and antique washes for a total of nine styles for men. All styles feature our signature athletic fit, which provides extra space in the thigh and a taper below the knee. 

DKShin S1 features six styles—three for men and three for women with a fabric from the Nisshinbo selvedge mill that has a composition of 97 percent cotton and 3 percent spandex. The style is contemporary moto; the fit is skinny and includes a treated leather insert around in the knee. 

The store also carries the Runningman Red Herring shoe in black and white.

What made you want to open a brick-and-mortar retail store after previously existing exclusively online? 

I always tell people that this is the "Bubba Gump Shrimp" moment in retail. If you recall the movie, there was a storm that knocked all the other shrimping boats out of the water, which made way for Forrest’s shrimping business to flourish. I believe this is a similar situation for me with my denim business. 

Here I am, finally done with sports, ready to settle down in a great area, and sitting here with a unique product and a story to tell. It is 100 percent time to set up shop. The internet is great but a picture doesn't tell you how it fits—and the fit is everything. 

Describe the vibe at the store. What is the overall shopping experience like?  

The vibes at the store are super dope. It is clean, the floor plan is open and it feels very much like an art gallery or a museum. There is much in the store to educate the customer on the history of the fabric, how the jeans are styled and who is wearing them. There is more denim art on display than actual product, and that is because the focus in-store is a personal and personable shopping experience as well as experiencing the culture of the brand. It is very much homegrown at this point. 

There are a couple of special discounts on offer. A hole-in-one on the golf putt challenge can earn you a free pair of jeans. You can also earn discounts on items in the store by playing Nintendo arcade games. 

The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley | donandswagger.com