Interviewing Loren Cronk took longer than expected: a constant stopping and starting of the recorder as people dropped by to send him their best, pick up paychecks, and talk about denim, their creative projects, and their personal lives. These people—bartenders, musicians, designers—also work with Cronk part time on his two denim lines. Every pair of jeans is constructed on site at Cronk’s Brooklyn store.
Hearing the designer talk about the importance of local business, you get the sense that this store is an extension of his philosophy: “I’m a big believer in locally made products, because I think that it’s important to actually employ people that live in the neighborhood—especially Brooklyn, which was such a garment industry,” he tells us. “As the economy struggles, what better way to help with that than putting people to work?”
Cronk was inspired to start his line after a stint at Levi’s, where he fell in love with denim. “It’s kind of selfish,” he laughs, “but it’s stuff I really want wear.” When asked if he has an ideal customer, Cronk speaks more to values than a specific aesthetic: “I tend to not like have a mold of who the customer is. If the customer appreciates that everything has really been thought through… I try to make every little detail in the jean, from interior to exterior, thought out and made well.” He means what he says: the denim is sourced by Cronk himself from local mills, and the man knows his craft. To teach himself, Cronk “took apart a pair and really studied how it was made and just slowly tried to reconstruct them.” Each pair of Loren jeans is stamped with a number. At the time of this interview, the team had just finished their 292nd pair.
Jeans so carefully constructed don’t run cheap, though. What does Cronk say to people who buy $25 jeans? “You can’t knock anyone,” he says, “I grew up thrift store shopping. So I always grew up not spending a lot on my clothes. But there are items that are available that are definitely about the trend. But when you’re buying one of our jeans, there is so much more to it than even the fabric. It’s what we do here and what we kind of believe in. It’s really about ultimately supporting local small business and trying to bring lost trades back.”
Looking forward, Cronk hopes to expand to L.A. with a new store and on-site atelier.