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Carolina On Our Minds

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Raleigh Denim is made in Raleigh, North Carolina. That might not sound like much of a statement about a brand, but for company founders Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko, the local roots of Raleigh Denim get to the essence of what makes it special. “With the exception of maybe some zippers, everything we use to make these jeans comes from within 200 miles or so of where we live,” explains Victor, who planted the seeds of Raleigh Denim when he began making jeans for himself, by hand, a couple of years ago. Friends started asking him for pairs; soon, wife Sarah was on board making patterns. This spring, Raleigh shipped its first delivery of men’s denim to Barneys New York. Now they’re launching women’s styles: Trouser, boyfriend, and “Thin Cut” (sort of skinny) styles debut next week at Steven Alan. And like the men’s jeans, all the cuts are test-run on non-model bodies before patterns are finalized, and every pair is hand-cut and sewn on a vintage machine. “We’re trying to keep traditional denim craftsmanship alive,” notes Sarah. “The nice thing about keeping everything local is that we get an education in every part of the production process, and we’re learning from masters.” The Spring ’10 collection will be slightly expanded—the couple are working on one additional cut and developing new denims based on the ways that old fabrics have broken in. Obviously, the brand is a labor of love. And a labor of envy: As Sarah notes, the whole reason Raleigh is launching its women’s range is because she got tired of her husband having all the good jeans. “So,” she says with a laugh, “now I get mine.”

Photo: Nick Pironio

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