Lawless Denim

More from this show

See how one man’s dream to create custom-made denim jeans in Phoenix using Arizona products could help provide employment as well.

Ted Simons: In 1872, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis came up with an idea to use copper rivets to strengthen denim cloth. The idea was a hit, and jeans soon became a mainstay of American clothing. Producer Shana Fischer introduces to us a Phoenix man who is taking jeans to a whole new level.

To say he loves denim is an understatement. For him, it's a way of life.

Roman Acevedo: I remember having the big drawer full of 501s where I would pull it open and look through to find the ones with the least amount of holes so I could wear those to school. Denim for me takes me back to being a young kid running around the city and I think it kind of resonates with a lot of people that way.

Voice- over: After 18 years in the restaurant business, he decided to open Lawless Denim, a custom Ken imand leather goods store.

Roman Acevedo: We do everything from denim jeans, jackets, shirts, leather jackets, all our belts are made by us, all our women's totes are denim and leather and our oiled leather totes are done here.

Voice- over: Rows and rows of denim line the walls and chances are when you create a custom pair of jeans here, they will also be one of a kind.

Roman Acevedo: We have selected from the finest denims in the world. Primarily cone mill and Japanese. It's all salvaged denim and we work hard to source very limited production, very limited runs, maybe dead stock so we'll get 50, maybe 100 yards if wore lucky and from there you select your denim. Then you'll pick your buttons, pocket liners, thread colors, and we take you in for a fitting. And we take about 10 different measurement points so we get the perfect fit.

Voice- over: Johanna Root is getting fitted for her second pair. She says being able to be part of the designing process is what caught her eye.

Johanna Root: From then just picking out which one looked coolest to me, and it was really awesome. And picking out buttons and rivets and stitching, you can have three different kind of stitches in different colors. So you can really get creative designing them. I went for the gun metal.

Voice- over: It takes roughly two to three weeks for the seam tresses to sew the jeans. It's exacting work. Since they're working with a limited supply of denim, they have to be sure each cut and each stitch is perfect. It's that dedication that has driven him to pursue his second passion. Putting people to work.

Roman Acevedo: I started lawless for two things. One I love denim, and I love leather. It's those materials that only get better with age. Secondly, I wanted to find a way to put people back to work on a consistent basis, and what I think I've identified is a real need. And that need is the skill set to make our own goods. So that's what we're all about. How many people I can put to work, and give them a good job, with a good career.

Voice- over: His goal is to put 200 people in Phoenix to work. Part of that work involves creating their own denim, using 14 vintage looms from the 1920s that he has housed in a nearby warehouse.

Roman Acevedo: These were the looms that Levi Strauss used to use. And what we're going to be doing with these is setting them up to produce denim and chambray. To my knowledge it hasn't been done west of the Mississippi in a salvage format. We'll be using Arizona Pima cotton, so we decided let's take this a step further, let's not only make our own jeans and use our own Arizona copper for our buttons, but let's make our own denim and chambray.

Voice- over: In the end, this is much more than just a business. It's a chance to weave together his dreams and his community.

Roman Acevedo: You know, when I close up the store at the end of the day and walk out of here, I'm always fixate order my next move. & what's going to happen the next day and what do I got to do to continue to grow this and take it to the next level and
how can we perfect the product even more. And being proud of having something that really makes a difference here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Lawless Denim is located in cityscape in downtown Phoenix.


Trail Mix'd visits the Superstition Mountains on a sunny day
aired Sept. 20

Tonight on Trail Mix’d!

Enjoy a night of family fun at The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

Frida Kahlo
aired Sept. 19

Becoming Frida Kahlo

A ferris wheel at a state fair in the evening

See Fairytales on Ice: Beauty and the Beast at the Arizona State Fair

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: