We always have our eyes on all things denim from around the globe, but our latest and greatest discovery is all-American, just like us. At his roadside shop in LA, designer Rene Holguin sews Old West–inspired accessories like leather bags, and restyles vintage jeans to create one-of-a-kind pieces. (No risk of seeing your jeans the next table over at brunch.) From sun-bleaching flea market finds to refreshing ’70s denim with methodical bleached patterns, Holguin walked us through his hands-on approach.
Psst: Before the secret’s out, stop by our New York store on 5th Avenue—we brought back a few of our favorites so you can love them too.
How has working at your father’s boot company influenced what you make?
I spent summers making boots at my father’s factory—to explain what I grew up around, at formal events he wore a tuxedo jacket on top, jeans on the bottom and cowboy boots. I still have the first pair of boots I ever made entirely by myself, and it taught me the value and consistency of something handmade, and of only making what you need.
Why the small-batch approach?
We work with a lot of found materials like vintage blankets or old leather coats, and we tailor everything. My leather comes from the same tannery in Mexico that my father went to for his, and we only make as much as we need to fill the shop, so no one else will have anything identical. What a great way to keep things going.
People obsess over the fit of your denim. How do vintage jeans become RTH jeans?
I started customizing my own denim years ago, and I wanted to give people a slouchy jean that’s appealing—not too baggy in the hips, and tapered a bit. It’s not a jean for someone who needs to look a certain way, or always look skinny. It’s an old-school jean for a confident, cool girl.
LA is known for being a denim-loving city—how does that show up in your style?
I moved to LA for the sky and the sun, and that plays a big part in my finishing process. The pants and the jackets all sit out in the sun for hours. I spread them out flat in my backyard and let the sun do its thing. We need vitamin D and so do our clothes.
What’s the biggest difference between East- and West-coast style?
Denim is so democratic—you can wear it anywhere, but the difference is in the fit. Sometimes, I’d like to tell New York to relax a little, and I’d like to say to Angelinos, tidy it up a bit. The attitude might be different, but the authenticity is everywhere.