Dawson Denim: Durability Guaranteed

I met up with my lovely friend Kelly for a cuppa at Marwood  last Wednesday. It’s such a great place to go & catch up, the staff are always so nice & the whole place is covered in random bits of nostalgia with kitsch treasures strewn all over the walls & most of the tables are truly genius. My favourite is a tabletop screwed onto of a pair of mannequins legs. I am sure you get the idea! They do a great mint tea there made with fresh mint & it’s a purse friendly £1.50!

It’s always great to see Kelly.  She is one of the most inspiring & interesting people that I know. She has as of the past year & a half to two years been working on her own Selvedge Denim brand , Dawson Denim, along with her , also lovely, boyfriend Scott.

The boxed apron - all designed & produced in Great Britain

The boxed apron – all designed & produced in Great Britain

They produce Japanese Selvedge Denim workwear aprons, which are inspired by the aprons from Kelly’s personal collection & her passion for denim.  The two of them together cut, stitch & finish off all the aprons by hand (with the help of some pretty hefty machines) all in their work shop in Brighton.


The Carpenter belt not just handy for carpenters!

The Carpenter belt not just handy for carpenters!

Here is a quick ‘What’s What’ in the world of Selvedge Denim incase you don’t know (I knew almost nothing until Kelly told me! &  the website also has a handy ‘Denim Glossary’)

Selvedge (self edge):  This is the narrow tightly woven band on either edge of the denim fabric, parallel to the warp. A selvage end prevents the edge of the denim from unraveling. Older narrow shuttle looms produce denim where selvages are ‘closed’, whereas on larger modern machines the weft yarn is cut on every pick, creating what is called a ‘fringe’ selvage.

Japanese Selvedge:  Is world renowned for being the finest quality you can buy. Dawson Denim sources it’s denim from a mill that has been in existence dying & weaving denim for over 100years.

The Mechanic

The Mechanic

The Pinny

The Pinny

The Mercantile

The Mercantile

Here is the lovely Kelly Dawson herself modelling The Pinny

Here is the lovely Kelly Dawson herself modelling The Pinny

Honestly once you start learning about denim & it’s history, you will never look at your jeans in the same way again!

Here is the link to the Denim Glossary

I have often listened to her talk about the different design stages, her trials & triumphs with suppliers & the genuine struggle to find UK based…anything!  I decided that I really wanted to interview her about Dawson Denim, not only because the product is so unique in its manufacture but the people behind it inspire passion that is incredibly infectious. (Doing the interview was also a good excuse to get out of work for a few hours & have a good old natter!)


A quick Q&A with Dawson Denim

 Vintage Vessel: You have had press exposure from all over the world since the online shop went live, how does it feel when Dawson Denim received such positive press coverage?

Kelly: I was really nervous & excited after so much hard work when the site went live and I was genuinely surprised about the positive feedback. It makes you feel like you are going in the right direction. The British Press especially really picked up on Dawson Denim & it almost felt like a ‘pat on the back’ from all the other companies trying to encourage as much manufacture back to the UK.  We usually get friends’ texting us to tell us that we’re featured in a magazine or on a blog! We have had a few happy customers send us pictures of themselves in their aprons too, which I don’t think I will ever stop loving!

Vintage Vessel: You are often blogging about new machinery you have sourced & put into use; What is your most coveted piece?

Kelly and Union special

Kelly:  It’s got to be our 1959 chain stitch hemmer made by Union Special, it took us 8 months to find! We had to import the head separately & attach the motor. This has been one of the biggest learning curves for me as most of the machines used in the UK are now all over the world & tracking down knowledgeable sewing technicians to tell you how they work or what to do when they go wrong is a whole other lesson!

Vintage Vessel: The Dawson Denim logo states ‘Durability Guaranteed’ – Can you give an explanation of what this stands for?


Kelly:  It simply means that our products are made to last. We are making denim in an over saturated market & we wanted to offer a guarantee that our aprons were going to live with you and be a reliable piece of workwear. We wanted offer a repair service, which is born out of the vintage lifestyle in which mending your clothing was the norm. Our Log Book, which you receive with every garment, will narrate a living history of your apron. Almost like a piece of machinery , every repair is logged.

 Vintage Vessel: Is there anyone or anything that you are inspired by?

Kelly:  Probably both my Dad & my Brother. My Dad made tools for a living & my Brother is a mechanic. They will always be a constant inspiration for me, not because they wore denim or because they knew anything about vintage workwear but largely because they built things with their hands! I studied fashion & can relate to them in many ways through design but I was always mesmerized when they took entire cars apart & rebuilt them to run even better. The Workers, the sooty faced men of the Industrial Revolution, inspire me.  The machinists & the tradesmen, I guess they are also my heroes. Hence, the reason for the aprons being names after the people who will generally wear them.  Everything I make has a purpose, my approach to pattern cutting is functional, not for fashion.

Vintage Vessel: And finally, when your working day is done & you turn off all your machines. What are your thoughts as you turn off the workshop lights?

Kelly:  Usually I really fancy a pint! But more often than not it’s what’s for dinner!



So there you have it! My first ever interview! If you want to find out more from Kelly & about Dawson Denim (she is truly an encyclopaedia on all things denim) then you can contact both her & Scott through the Dawson Denim Twitter // facebook // online

Love VV xxx


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