Culture, Architecture & Design // 5 min Read

True Blue

Written by Barry Kaufman

Jun 29, 2021


Blue Delta Jeans introduces old-fashioned custom fitting to the rough-and-tumble world of blue jeans.

There is something so essentially American about the feel of denim. More than any amber waves of grain or purple mountains, it’s the deep indigo of jeans that has helped define this country. And it’s the rugged comfort of a pair of jeans that unites us. Whether they are being dressed up with heels or a blazer or being dirtied up on the farm, jeans are quintessentially American. And like all things American, we go to great lengths for comfort. Flex fit. Comfort stretch. Extreme motion. And, of course, the ever-so-comfortable jeggings.

Sadly, all of these terms are simply marketing gimmicks to paper over Big Denim’s greatest shame: they don’t make jeans specifically for you. At best, they make jeans for someone of roughly your dimensions, or at least as large a swath of your demographic as they can profitably cover. It may not fit you perfectly, but it will fit well enough.

And as Americans, we hold one sacred truth above all others: Well enough is never enough.

Rather, we seek out that which has been made specifically for our contours, a garment that offers the ideal fit for us. And only us.

That sort of bespoke customization is what spurred Josh West and Nick Weaver, two childhood friends from rural Mississippi, to launch Blue Delta Jeans. The concept behind it is as simple as it is brilliant. West and Weaver simply took London’s Savile Row philosophy of custom tailoring and craftsmanlike needlework and applied it to that most American of garments, blue jeans.

“We are a gentlemen’s jean. We always went with class. People can wear our jeans with a sports jacket, but they’re tough enough to wear out in the field,” West said. “It’s the Southern tuxedo.”

Nick Weaver Josh West credit Paul Mitchell

Each pair of jeans is individually fitted by one of the company’s 110 tailors around the world, with clients having the option of choosing from more than 50 weights and colors of denim and 18 thread colors overlaid on a customized pattern made specifically for them. From there, your imagination is the limit. Unique rivets, custom-set belt loops, monograms, and even customized pocket placement, coupled with 19 different measurements, make your jeans uniquely yours. For men and women, it’s bespoke comfort made with you and only you in mind.

“When you make a jean one at a time, what can you pick? Everything,” West said. “It’s one size fits one.”

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During their visit to Palmetto Bluff last summer as part of the Artist in Residence programming, the pair were able to wow residents and visitors alike with their custom-tailored creations.

“It was super cool. We were the first event back after COVID, so we did it all outside,” Weaver said. “The property, the feel . . . it’s definitely our clientele.”

It may seem like an odd juxtaposition—the discerning attitude of a custom tailor projected onto the pedestrian attire of the working man or woman. But then, designer jeans are nothing new. Bespoke tailoring is nothing new. Combining these almost seems like a natural next step. Of course, such exquisite attention to detail comes at a designer price.

“Our jeans are expensive, but if you had asked me in 1999 if I’d spend $1,000 on a little green grill, I would have thought you were nuts. Look at those YETI coolers, I have 12 of those,” Weaver said. “This generation is willing to pay for quality. It’s not about price, it’s about value. Spending $300 on a cooler—is it worth it? Yeah. It’s going to last 10 years.”

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The genesis of Blue Delta was a conversation over cocktails between the two friends that grew quickly, despite one stumbling block. Neither of them knew the first thing about making blue jeans.

“We knew what we wanted to do: make the best jeans in the world. We just had to discover how to do that,” Weaver said. Fortunately, they were in the right place at the right time. Tupelo, Mississippi, had once been a major hub for the garment industry, and at its center was a plant that churned out Levi’s 501 jeans.

“When they left in the ’80s, all of these areas lost all of that sewing talent,” Weaver said. With Blue Delta, West and Weaver put them back to work on 22 sewing machines they’d purchased in the suburbs of Memphis. “Our first hire had been sewing Levi’s jeans for 30–40 years. We had a lot of institutional knowledge.”

“It allowed us to create a really good culture,” West added. “We let them do what they do better than everybody. Our lead seamstress, Sarah Richey, started sewing back in the ’50s. . . . We have over 200 years of experience in a young company.”

Putting the area’s talented seamstresses back to work and jump-starting the area’s textile industry was just a part of the mission. Each pair of blue jeans is handcrafted with American-made materials, a local-first ethos instilled in Weaver over three generations of family cotton farming.

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With a product that speaks for itself, the pair got busy getting the word out. Theirs was an almost viral whisper campaign, building the company over eight years by bending the right ears.

“It’s kind of like if you’ve ever burned a field off, you don’t start a big fire. You start a lot of little fires,” Weaver said. “We didn’t have daddy’s money. No bank would give us a loan. We bootstrapped it, worked nights, borrowed from each other at times. It took a long time, but one person led us to another.”

Eventually, to borrow Weaver’s metaphor, the field was ablaze. Major League Baseball caught first, with more than 250 active MLB players now wearing Blue Deltas. The music industry came next, with everyone from Alabama Shakes to Vince Gill rocking a pair on stage. (“My whole Spotify playlist wears our jeans,” said Weaver with a laugh.) Now, you’ll find a pair of Blue Deltas on everyone from Archie Manning to the Ryder Cup’s Team USA.

“We’ve been blessed to have some really big champions take us places.
To think we had Morgan Freeman in here sipping on Tito’s ordering denim;
I can’t make this [stuff] up,” Weaver said. “It’s been awesome.”

Expanding also meant branching out, taking the signature Blue Delta approach to blue jeans and applying it to the resort casual classic chinos. Made with stretch cotton twill but cut like a pair of blue jeans, these “Jhinos” as they are called bring together the comfort of soft khaki and the custom tailoring.

And it’s not the only innovation coming down the pipe for Blue Delta.

“We are also coming out with a technology piece to allow us to get your measurements,” West said, adding with dry Mississippi humor, “We’re trying to sell on the internet because I hear things are going that way.”

They may be on to something. Just as jeans are the great unifying force of Americana, Blue Delta is bringing together people of all stripes. The same bespoke jeans worn by A-listers and famous athletes are just a few clicks away at bluedeltajeans.com. x

Read the original story in the Spring / Summer 2021 edition of the bluff.

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