In a world of mass production and manufacturing overseas, it is refreshing to find an American designer who believes in true artisanal products that are handcrafted from love.
Camillo Love, owner and creator of Red Cotton Denim, specializes in handmade, one-of-a-kind denim jeans.
That’s right, Camillo Love sews each pair by hand.
Not only are these jeans high quality, they are also surprisingly affordable.
We spoke to Camillo about his philosophy on manufacturing jeans in-house and how his handcrafted designer denim is catching on!
Q&A with Camillo Love
Camillo, Red Cotton Denim is an artisanal denim brand meaning you sew each pair by hand.
In a world of mass production, why do you take the time and effort to do this?
In the beginning, I did not have the money to afford a manufacturer to produce jeans for me. I thought it would be easy to figure out how to sew jeans. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that.
It is eight years later and I’m still learning something new everyday. My plan was to learn enough about sewing that I could produce a few samples for myself. The journey of jeans making took a course of its own and now I make every single pair for my customers.
When and how did you decide to create one-of-a-kind jeans?
I started making jeans in 2007. I always wanted a business for myself. When you dress good, you feel good. Dressing nice and being well-groomed can make you feel good about yourself and boost your self-esteem. This is why I choose to have a business in fashion.
Why do you specialize in men’s jeans rather than women’s as well?
In the beginning, I was making custom jeans for women. I was approached by a store owner in San Francisco to stock his store with men’s jeans. At that point, I put the women’s jeans on hold to focus on men’s jeans. It was a wise choice to start my business making men’s jeans first. Making custom jeans for women taught me a great deal about fit. Selling men’s jeans is a great way to understand the business of selling jeans and manufacturing for hundreds of customers. This experience will be very helpful when I do enter the women’s market.
Can you describe the process by which you create each pair of Red Cotton Denim
I have a fit that I created myself that is offered on my website. Customers order the fit and size they would like to wear. I hand select the fabric that will be used to make a pair of jeans. Then, I begin cutting the fabric and sewing the jeans. I have 15 industrial sewing machines in my workspace. I mainly use 8 machines to make one pair of jeans. I bounce around my workspace from one sewing machine to another to make a pair of jeans.
With only you sewing each pair, customization is the key to your success. However, how do you plan on growing your business as you gain a greater clientele?
I moved to Los Angeles from the Bay Area to grow the business. I plan to hire very talented people to help me with the day-to-day sewing. Having help making jeans will allow me time to create more fits. I will be free to create videos and pictorials for social media. It will also allow me the time to offer more product besides jeans on the website.
How is your business model of selling directly to each customer different than the mass manufacturing that is going on today in countries such as China and India.
And do you believe that a resurgence of this type of business is important in America?
If so, why?
The great part of selling direct is the relationship that is created between the customers and myself. Most of my time in a day is spent making jeans for my customers. Traditionally, brands go to trade shows to sell their clothes to buyers. So, the goal is to make as many sales as possible. Selling direct and hand making jeans is very different. It’s not about how much money you can make. It’s more about working hard to give your customer a good product. I know every single customer that I have made a pair of jeans for. I know their name and where they are from. In most cases we have conversed via email. It’s amazing how the Internet connects us all since I do the manufacturing of the jeans that I sell. When the business grows, it really does create manufacturing jobs.
This is important here in America. We have lost a very important skill outsourcing clothing manufacturing overseas. It is important to understand how fabric is created and how to draft a pattern for a jacket or dress. How to sew a garment from start to finish is an important skill that is needed here in this country.
My goal is to have a large business that will hire many workers skilled in all aspects of clothing manufacturing.
You are a successful entrepreneur living the American dream. What words of advice do you have for our readers who are wanting to do the same?
And what are some of the greatest hurdles and obstacles you have had to overcome in starting your business?
I think the best advice I can give someone is to surround themselves with successful people. Over-achievers know other over-achievers. When you know one successful person, you gain their contacts. Having help is vital to having a successful business. I wish I had hired employees early on. I made the mistake of taking on all the work myself. You can offer so much more to your business if you have someone helping you.
The greatest obstacles are the sacrifices that you have to make. I spent many nice days inside working while everyone else was outside having a good time on the weekend. I stopped working full-time to work only on the weekends. I learned how to survive on two days of work. That money had to pay for my cost of living and putting money back into the business. So, having good friends that understand what you are doing and are willing to offer you dinner from time to time is helpful.
The good side about making these sacrifices is that having a business attracts you to successful people. I have met and befriended many people that have sold companies and do not have to work any longer. People do not look at what you don’t have. But, what are you doing with you time.
Who has been the greatest influence on your life and why?
I would have to say my grandmother. She taught me at an early age to be a hard worker. She was a schoolteacher who saved what money she could to invest into real estate. She was pretty cheap, sometimes a bit too cheap. She had a very modest Toyota Corolla and several houses. This taught me to take the money that I earned from my job and reinvest it into buying sewing machinery. I learned from her that you will gain more profit if your intentions are not selfish. She invested in order to ensure that her children would be secure when she passed away. I have seen many people invest for the sake of having more and ended up with less than what they started out with.
Can you name some of the celebrity clientele who have enjoyed your jeans?
And do you have any fun stories to share?
Two celebrity clients that I have made jeans for are Shaquille O’Neal and Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles. Both are a pleasure to be around. The Mayor is one of the most welcoming people you could ever want to meet. With all the great accomplishments Shaquille O’Neal has made in his life, he is very down to earth. To be honest with you, he is the easiest custom client that I have. He is a very easygoing guy.
If our readers would like to know more about Red Cotton Denim and how to purchase a pair of one-of-a-kind denim jeans from you how would they do this?
All jeans can be purchased online from my website at www.redcottondenim.com