Jean enthusiasts, now’s the time get your pants in a tizzy.
Self Edge, a boutique selling premium raw denim (selvage) jeans, is heralding the launch of its new Portland location with a Saturday launch party at the 10,500-square-foot Union Way retail center. Everyone’s invited — Sip on some beer, meet husband-and-wife founders Kiya and Demitra Babzani, and browse some wicked-sweet exclusive jean brands. Self Edge carries lines from Iron Heart, The Flat Head, Strike Gold, Real Japan Blues and Dry Bones, just to name a few.
A few perks: There’ll be a 12 percent off sale from Friday to Sunday. Self Edge will also unveil its special jean collaboration, Self Edge x Dry Bones jeans, a shirt by Roy and Mr. Freedom indigo-dyed bandanas. And once winter rolls around, the Portland location will have outerwear, such as down jackets, that won’t be sold in the other stores. (Score!)
The San Francisco natives originally opened the San Francisco spot in 2006, followed by locations in New York and Los Angeles. They carry jeans that aren’t washed or sprayed with any chemicals to allow you to buff, scratch and wear them out over time. It gives jeans character, Kiya Babzani says.
EYES + EDGE: How did you end up choosing Portland for your next location?
Kiya Babzani: There was a couple of retail spaces that had opened up in the Black Box development. We went and took a look at those spaces in January, came to Portland. The spaces looked good, but the same developers were working on this sort of project and they had talked about how Boxa Ramen’s opening, Steven Alan, Danner… We started to think we’d love to be involved in it, and open up in this project.
We didn’t come to Portland to definitely open up a store; it was just sort of a maybe thing. We fell in love with the city, and the people, and we were like, we have to have a store here, not because we’re trying to sell a whole bunch of jeans, but because it’s such a great place, we want to spend time.
So we signed the lease on this space in February.It’s the first time we’re going into a new retail development, not a pre-existing sort of area, which has been an interesting process.
E+E: Do you feel that Portland speaks to you?
Babzani: Yeah, definitely. The sort of food and coffee scene here is very similar to San Francisco’s, and of course you have the very green, progressive culture that exists everywhere up and down the West Coast. It’s really strong here in Portland, and the transition of being here, living here and working here is very easy for us. We’ll see where it takes us.
E+E: Talking about being green and progressive — I know that your jeans specialize in raw denim and you don’t use extra chemicals. Could you talk more about that?
Babzani: So there’s no chemicals, softeners or acetates used in any of the clothing that we sell.
We just felt that clothing should age on its own naturally as opposed to pre-distressed. That goes from everything from jeans to shirts to wallets. You notice that our belts look really rigid; there’s no distressing on them. Same with our wallets.
I feel like you should buy it in its raw state, it its new state, and it ages over time, and it takes on the character of your daily life. And that’s true from everything from a denim shirt to a scarf…
E+E: People often talk about how clothes tell stories about who they are. Are there certain pieces of clothing or jeans to you that has a story behind it?
Babzani: Everything has a story because it takes on a life of its own, because of the wear pattern on it, especially on a pair of jeans, because it’s indigo-dyed, and indigo falls off easily. And so it leaves marks really easily, from the type of wallet you were wearing over the years to where you put your keys and and phone in your pocket, and of course the type of shoes you were wearing. It really changes the look of the jean. But if you buy something pre-washed, even, and not even pre-distressed, but like a heavily washed jean, you’re not going to get that same type of fade pattern.
E+E: Tell me more about you get exclusive brands in your shop.
Babzani: We visited the mills in Japan and America and North Carolina. You’re seeing it go from spun cotton yarn to the finished product that’s indigo-dyed. It gives you a better understanding of the construct of a pair of jeans.
You have to understand these factories are small, and don’t produce a lot of fabric. In Japan, the labor costs are the highest in the world. The factory workers are paid quite a bit.
E+E: Do you work on collaborations at all?
Babzani: We just released one last weekend. We don’t do them that often, maybe a couple times a year.
E+E: What was the last one?
Babzani: It’s a natural, hand-dyed indigo jean, like a jean that’s made closest to how the denim would have been produced 140 years ago or so. We’ll have them here in about a week.
E+E: What kind of jeans are you wearing right now?
Babzani: Iron Heart jeans.
E+E: Is that your favorite? You must have a ton of jeans…
Babzani: I do have a lot of jeans… Most of the guys that work at the stores, they wear one pair of jeans for a period of time, for a year or two straight. And then you move on to a different pair of jean, so we don’t actually have multiple of jeans.
Self Edge Aug. 10 Launch Party
1022 W. Burnside St., #J
Portland, OR 97209
Written by: Dominique Fong