Baldwin

Embracing his entrepreneurial spirit and Midwestern attitude, designer Matt Baldwin of Baldwin Co. has disrupted the fashion game by creating American denim smack dab in the middle of the heartland.
Downtown Kansas City

Photographs by Ryan Strong

Baldwin is Kansas City; it’s durable, it’s industrious, it’s modern. With exceptional classics and seasonless staples, this KC-based brand is poised to put its community on the map as a fashion force. Step aside Brooklyn cool.

KC—the City of Fountains—is revered for sports, the arts and its absurdly good barbecue–wait-in-an-hour-long-line-outside-of-a-gas-station good. That good. The popular Power & Light district is an nightlife hot spot, Westport is a low-key favorite and the Plaza always makes for a great day of shopping (with a stop at Baldwin, of course).

Matt Baldwin

Matt Baldwin

We chatted with Matt about creating a clothing company, the perfect pair of jeans and the barbecue capital of the world.

SEE MATT’S KC PICKS AND BALDWIN CLOTHES INSIDE THE CITY’S PREMIERE ART GALLERY

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From dark and raw to bleached and faded, we can all agree that a great-fitting pair of jeans is a menswear essential that will never go out of style. With more new and unique denim brands entering our Men’s Shop lineup than ever before, we asked our buying team to name a few whose stories (and, of course, jeans) they thought you, our valued reader, would like to know. Keep reading for the low-down on eight cutting-edge denim brands—from zany Canadian start-ups to 125-year-old American icons.

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What happens when our Men’s Shop video team goes to Las Vegas during Market Week? They run into Pharrell. They get down to brass tacks with up-and-coming design heroes. And they make some movie magic—amidst three furious days of menswear trade shows.

Watch the interview clips above to learn about the humble beginnings, advanced technology, and DIY ethos behind today’s best denim brands—then shop our Editor’s Picks below to start your quest for a new favorite pair. (Catch part 1 of our Vegas-trip Editor’s Picks here.)


L-R: Natural Selection | Levi’s Made & Crafted | 7 For All Mankind | Baldwin | Nudie


L-R: BLK DNM | AG Jeans | Hudson | Lee 101 USA | Raleigh Denim

 

Watch: More Videos in this Series

Shop All: ‘Denim, Reconstructed’ Featured Brands

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Joining the ranks of past honorees like Alexander Wang, Michael Bastian and Billy Reid, Matt Baldwin of Kansas City brand Baldwin has been named one of GQ Magazine’s Best New Menswear Designers in America, 2013.

When Jay-Z wears your stuff, you know you’re doing something right. But the proof is in the pudding—here are the five Baldwin styles we have in-stock for Spring; try on a pair and see for yourself why GQ called Mr. Baldwin “the high priest of low-key gear.”

By Baldwin, from left:
‘Henley’ Dry Selvedge Jeans | ‘Ryan’ Camo Chinos | ‘Henley’ in ‘David’ wash
‘Reed’ Canvas Pants | ‘Henley’ in ‘Joshua’ wash
(Of the jeans shown above, Matt Baldwin told GQ: “Our Henley cut has a lot of fans. They taper at the calf, but the thigh’s not tight. It looks slim, but you can move.”)
 

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Hoping for a glimpse inside Baldwin’s creative process, we asked the designer to name a few current influences. His responses, exclusive to Men’s Shop Daily, are below. (Check out more on the brand’s Instagram feed, @Baldwin).

[Clockwise from top left]:

1. Mammoth Mountain, CA. “My first visit to Mammoth was this March, and I hit the powder trip of the year. My love for the sport led me into the clothing industry. Living in Kansas City, a good pow day is few and far between. This was an epic trip.”

2. DJ’ing the 2012 MLB All-Star Game. “I was asked to DJ the All-Star Game this last year, so I brought a good friend and musician, Miles Bonny, to play with me. A random and super cool highlight of last year.”

3. When Radiohead Played KC.Radiohead has been on constant rotation for me since high school. They played a show in Kansas City last year, and I was stoked to meet them in our shop. They got jeans, and I got to check them out live for the first time. Amazing show.”

4. Farnsworth House / Lego Architecture Series.Modern architecture and design has been a core foundation of the brand’s roots since the beginning. I have two boys, ages 5 and 7. Lego mania has taken over the Baldwin home. It’s super rad having relevant, cool things to do with your kids.”

5. GQ Best New Menswear Designer 2013. “This year started off with an amazing honor. I’m very blessed to be considered amongst the industry’s top talent. The future is bright.”

 

SHOP: BALDWIN | ALL MEN’S JEANS

 
 
 

[Matt Baldwin portrait by Jason Frank Rothenberg for GQ. Inspiration images courtesy of Baldwin.]

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The Real Deal: Selvedge Denim

If you’re new to the concept of jeans constructed with a truly masterful hand (the term ‘selvedge’ or ‘selvage’ is often used in menswear circles), we think the pros at one of our favorite denim brands, Sweden-based Nudie Jeans, explain it best. From NudieJeans.com:

“Selvedge denim is made on old-style shuttle looms. The fabric is woven using one continuous cross thread; the weft. As the weft loops back into the edge of the weave, the selvedge [derived from ‘self edge’] edge is created…Selvedge production is much slower than conventionally produced denim [creating a softer, more durable fabric], and only the best raw materials are used. It can be compared to the ‘slow food’ movement; this is slow denim.”

Many pairs of Nudie, in particular, are also made with organic and/or recycled cotton. The following videos show the unique life cycle of Nudie Jeans—from harvesting the organic cotton, to the artisanal craftsmanship that goes into every pair, to the brand’s repair/reuse/reduce ethos, to the dismantling and revival of old jeans through fabric recycling:




 

One of the selvedge-denim connoisseur’s favorite topics is the art of breaking them in. The jeans in the picture up top started out in a deep, raw, untouched blue (often referred to as ‘dry’ selvedge—i.e., unwashed during the production process). As the owner, a guy named Jeppe, wore them day after day, the raw denim gradually faded in a completely unique way—you can even see where he kept his phone and wallet. Here’s another look at the breaking-in process, month by month:


(click to enlarge)
 

Note that these remained unwashed for the first eight months. Purists will tell you that abstaining from laundering selvedge denim is vital to the personalized fading process. Here’s a chart, thanks to the people at Nudie, in case you’re not sure when the time is right:


 

Now that you’re in the top-shelf denim market, the choice is yours: Go raw and try your hand at wearing them in, or skip ahead to an artfully pre-distressed pair. Either way, just don’t wear them in the ocean.


Nudie | A.P.C. | Rising Sun


Baldwin | Hudson | 7 For All Mankind
 

SHOP: SELVEDGE DENIM | ALL MEN’S JEANS

 
 

[On-figure jean shots are from Nordstrom.com; other photos and videos courtesy of NudieJeans.com.]

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