Jason Trotzuk approaches his work like a painter or a sculptor.
In his Yaletown studio, he bears down on his material, attempting to hew and draw meaning from it. Broad-chested and in possession of strong hands, Trotzuk seems well-suited to the hammer and chisel. But it is his eyes that reveal his vocation. Flinty, focused, Trotzuk's eyes belong to a man obsessed with denim.
Over the last few years, as creative director and founder of Fidelity Denim, Trotzuk has made his mark as a designer of women's jeans. Fidelitys have found their way around the legs and derrií¨res of L.A. women like Demi Moore, Debra Messing, and Eva Longoria. (For a list of retailers, visit www.fidelitydenim.com/; the men's line, $170 to $200, will be carried at Brooklyn and Harry Rosen.)
But this year, when he launches a men's fall line, he wants guys to strap on his jeans. Says Trotzuk: "For guitars, it's the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul. For jeans, it's Levi's and Lee. There's so much history to it, so it would be ridiculous for me to say that I can create an iconic jean. But what I can say is I can take everything that I feel is important about the blue jean and put it into a pair of Fidelity men's jeans."
Trotzuk pulls a dark-indigo boot-cut sample from a rack and begins to tug at it. "See, along the thigh. How it feels like butter? And then it's silky here. The colour is deep and rich and complex."
The finish suggests a pair of well-loved jeans, worn but not abused. The look is urban ranger. The cut is a straight selvage on the outseam, which means they recall the golden age when jeans were made of ring/ring denim woven on small looms. The fabric is thinner but actually stronger than run-of-the-mill jeans. But does that mean they'll fit like daddy's jeans? No, says Trotzuk.
"Old vintage has a great wash. But it doesn't have a great fit. I could have gone that way, but the 'authentic' fit is shit. Most men's jeans reference an old pair of traditionals. But”¦we're going to offer jeans that don't gape at the waist. Instead, they'll taper and streamline the look of the thigh. And they won't droop like diapers. Today, jeans are where art and science meet tradition, and that's what we're doing."
Trotzuk tugs at a three-metre bolt of rare vintage denim. A gift and a challenge, it's a light indigo with a green cast and stiffened with cornstarch. It's old enough–perhaps dating from the 1930s–to have been dyed in natural indigo. Maybe from the classic jean mills of North Carolina?
He takes it all in with his hands and eyes and, strangely enough, pulls out a paintbrush and uses it as a probe. He points out the number of slubs and flaws–a sign of an old loom. He continues to pick at the fabric.
"I'm going to pull the character out of these," he says, computing what could be.