Interview available here:
Roy Slaper. For most of us this name will not ring a bell, but if you are even a little interested by the world of denim, you know he is a legend. This man is not creating jeans, he is making art. The quality, the entirely handcrafted design, and the incredible level of details turn his jeans into Grails.
And for our greatest pleasure, he agreed to answer few questions. Needless to say this is not common. And we thank him even more for that.
Hello Roy, can you introduce yourself to our readers who would not know you
Hi, I’m Roy; nice to meet you.
I guess things were not easy when you started, as you did not come from a clothes design school but from skateboarding. What were the main challenges you faced at that time, and how did the DIY way of life from skateboarding help you?
The main challenges were pretty simple: learn to sew and learn what machines do what job.
I know you’re a fan of old machines. What was your first? And how many do you have today?
My first was a Mitsubishi DU 125. It was entirely the wrong machine for jeans, but later I was able to trade it for a Brother DT-6 to this guy named Sparrow, who an oddly large number of people seem to know. Of course neither of those machines are old. I got into the old ones later on when I started learning more about wrenching on them.
I don’t know how many machines I have right now; its always changing and I have never counted them. Some are just parts machines – do I count them as 1/2 a machine or a full machine or a zero machine? I have a lot of machines.
I heard that you were customising your machines. What is your favorite?
I don’t think I have a favorite on a long term basis. Its sort of who ever is working well today.
Does it take you a lot of time to maintain these mythical relics?
Sometimes it takes a long time and sometimes it doesn’t take anytime to maintain them. Its the same as any other machinery. I sometimes will lose a few hours of production because something has gone wrong.
You have a special relationship with Cone Mills, how did you meet them?
I’m just a customer and they happen to be cool people.
There actually is a whole convoluted and entertaining story as to how I started working with them, but if I tell you and write it all down then I can’t tell it at the bar anymore.
What is your favorite denim from them? (You can’t answer the one they made exclusively for you.)
Different fabrics have different purposes. I may like a heavy one and a light one equally and that is because they aren’t comparable fabrics. Plus, my tastes seem to change a lot.
Do you think you will bend one day and work on some pieces with Japanese denim?
I’ve done plenty with Japanese fabrics already. I’m wearing a shirt made of a chambray cloth from Nihon Menpu right now.
Moreover, what’s your opinion on Japanese and European jeans?
That’s a pretty general question. Most Japanese are good, most Euro are not good (no offense intended). There are lots of exceptions, though.
You mentioned shirts a moment ago. Any plans to make more?
Yes, but I’m not sure when. I’ve been very busy with the jeans and I only have so much time in the day. The most recent shirts I’ve made are what I want to be wearing. I will have to refine it down a little though before I sell them. I am quite optimistic about it.
Your jeans are strictly sold at Self Edge. They seem to be 100% behind you and really support you. What relationship do you have with them? Will you broaden your distribution network someday?
I wholesale jeans to them and they are retailers that sell them to the customers. We also have coffee sometimes. It has worked out pretty well so far; they are good people.
Even if you are an autodidact, you have a significant knowledge on manufacturing and materials. Do you have an apprentice or would you consider hiring one in the future to impart your knowledge?
I have no apprentice and I wouldn’t consider having one, but ask anyone around here and they will vouch that I help everyone with anything they are having trouble with as long as they aren’t annoying; even then, I make exceptions.
What are you working on? Because the stocks are empty right now.
And finally, a question from a denim addict, what’s your favorite type of wash?
I have this great wash I do where I put the jeans in a bathtub and run a few inches of hot water then soak them for about 10 minutes…
But, I assume you are asking about finishing (abrasive washing) and that is something I’m not really into. Its kind of wasteful and the stuff never even looks good except in rare cases. I could write a paragraph, but I’ll just say that I’m not really into it – Which is to say, my favorite wash is no wash.
We thank Roy Slaper for having kindly accepted this interview and for taking thetime to answer us.
His jeans are available at Self Edge.