Paul is not your average designer.
The first thing you notice when you meet him is his rugged look; a greyish beard, plenty of ink under his skin, and outfits dominated by denim and vintage style workwear. But underneath the tough exterior is a kind soul.
Twenty years ago he found his calling in the world of denim, and the thrill of finding and recreating vintage worn-in garments still keeps him going. Paul is the design manager of JACK & JONES VINTAGE CLOTHING, but he also works with JACK & JONES’ Italian partner Blue Line. Working with Blue Line, Paul designs jeans for the other JACK & JONES brands as well.
Already in design school, Paul knew that he wasn’t quite like all the other aspiring designers. He wasn’t really into haute couture and he didn’t dream of seeing his designs on runways. After doing a project with denim he knew what he wanted to do: make jeans.
After working with denim for almost twenty years for companies like Diesel, Calvin Klein and Replay, Paul knows what it takes to make a great pair of jeans. It’s a very labour intensive process, something that he feels isn’t entirely clear to everyone:
“I think a lot of people think that fabric goes into a machine and out the other end comes a pair of jeans,” he says in this first video about how he works.
Paul was born and raised in Middlesbrough in England. Today, the 42-year-old designer lives with his family in a small village an hour’s drive north of Venice in Italy. He moved there to get closer to the source of Italian denim know how. To some, pizza comes to mind before jeans and denim when you talk about Italy, but the country has a rich heritage in jeanswear and probably the most skilled and innovative craftsmen in Europe.
Designing jeans requires knowledge and experience, but you also have to be able to think out of the box. Paul finds inspiration from all around the world. He travels to places like Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York to keep up-to-date on the latest trends and to scout for inspiring vintage garments.
Functional clothes designed with a specific purpose in mind also inspire him. He often builds his designs around workwear or military uniforms. But sometimes inspiration comes when he least expects it, for instance when he’s riding one of his four motorcycles.
“It’s a job that you never leave. It’s something that is always going on in your mind,” Paul explains in this second video about how he works as a designer.
Paul clearly loves his job and how he can express his creativity through his designs. He has been visiting denim laundries ever since he got into the business and the advancements in what can be done to recreate years of wear and tear still amazes him.
He’s especially fascinated by the efforts that go into creating environmentally sustainable alternatives to traditional treatments as well as the new stretch qualities that offer a level of comfort in men’s jeans that you wouldn’t have found only a few years back. Today, the functionality and look of stretch denims have changed dramatically and according to Paul, people’s attitudes have also changed as well. Stretch denim is not only for women anymore.
Personally, he prefers unwashed denim. He is fascinated by the way denim moulds to your body and ages as you wear it. Although he doesn’t think of himself as a collector, he owns around 350 pairs of jeans. Most of them are vintage pieces and he is especially drawn to garments that clearly have lived a life, as he puts it. Some of his most cherished pieces he hangs on his wall like others would do with art.