May 19th, 2010
Let's make it official
Although the dream started many years before, Eric finally made it official when he registered "Detroit Denim LLC" with the state of Michigan.
Our first shop: ponyride
After an ill-fated 6 weeks of making jeans in the garage, Eric found a space (and an amazing community) at Ponyride in Corktown. Being surrounded by so many makers, we were inspired to level up our own craft, and spent many years perfecting each detail of the jean.
Mar 25th, 2011
Learned about lean mfg.
Our neighbor at Ponyride, The Empowerment Plan, offered a company-wide Lean Manufacturing training and invited us to join. We fell in love with the notion of made-to-order apparel manufacturing. This was our first time formally mapping out the production flow and getting scientific about our processes.
Jan 11th, 2016
May 20th, 2016
Room to Grow
After outgrowing our space at Ponyride, we were ready for a space of our own, and set up shop in Rivertown. From our first "real" store, machinery upgrades, and expanding our product line, we learned so much about what we were good at (and what we weren't).
Trip to Colombia
Ready to scale up, we headed to Colombia with a sewing machine supplier to tour some denim factories and see a large-scale, automated factory in action. We were not ready for what we saw. From the literal sweatshop conditions, to the smelly sludge pouring out the back of the factory, we knew that if THIS was what scaling up looked like, we wanted no part. Having seen the ugly underbelly of the industry first hand, we returned to Detroit unsure of where (or if) we could fit in to the bigger picture.
Aug 16th, 2018
Mar 16th, 2019
the road trip
During a road trip to a fabric trade show in Miami, we stopped along the way to visit factories, sewing machine suppliers, and fabric mills (or what was left of them). Seeing the graveyard of the US apparel industry was startling. But we also visited amazing companies like OPM, Billiam, Elizabeth Suzanne, and Alabama Chanin, who were creating a new path forward for themselves. It was a whirlwind 4 days, but it reminded us that we weren't alone in our journey to find a better new normal.
Copenhagen Fashion Summit
We traveled to Denmark for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit as a part of a delegation from Michigan telling anyone and everyone who would listen that we have an opportunity in Detroit to build a new apparel paradigm, from the ground up, the way it should be: sustainable, equitable, and human centric. Billed as THE global summit of leaders in fashion sustainability, we found ourselves underwhelmed and unimpressed with empty, barely-move-the needle promises from large global brands, blatant greenwashing, and no one willing to address the elephant in the room: the waste caused by massive overproduction.
May 11th, 2019
mar 30th, 2020
When COVID first shut down our operations, we thought it might be lights out for good. Almost immediately, we started getting calls from hospitals to see if we could produce PPE like masks, face shields, and gowns. It was one the most humbling and purposeful chapters of our company: making necessary protective equipment for our community and neighbors.
2020 was about as challenging as they come, but there were many silver linings. It gave us time to rest and reflect on the journey of our business, and reconcile the distance between our hopes for the industry and its current state. Most importantly, it allowed us to revisit our dreams of becoming a truly lean manufacturer, and gave us the time needed to rebuild our business on a fully made-to-order model.
Oct 23rd, 2020
May 19th, 2021
On the 11th anniversary of our incorporation, we couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate than with a relaunch many years in the making. Custom jeans. Made to order. What's not to love?