In 2013, celebrity maker/artist Jimmy DiResta made a pair of jeans from scratch for his popular YouTube channel. While the tutorial video was a hit—racking up over a half-million views to date—the experience humbled DiResta and left him feeling a bit out of his league.
“It wasn’t fun!” the 54-year-old designer, maker and media personality says, laughing through a thick Long Island accent. “An old adage is why make what you can buy? Instead, modify.”
DiResta—who has spent four decades building things with metal, wood, plastic and other materials, and teaching others how to do so both in person and on TV—more recently deconstructed his own Levi’s, adding a pair of double-front, multi-compartment pockets for utility.
He spent years tinkering with his bespoke britches before arriving at the Welders Jean now sold under his DiResta MakeWear brand and co-designed by the godmother of denim, Christine Rucci. The rugged jeans are made with a heavy-weight, durable CORDURA® Denim woven with USA sustainable grown cotton, in a pure indigo denim shade from Cone Denim, reinforced by CORDURA® Nylon Waxed Canvas from Carr Textile and CORDURA® Truelock™ nylon SDN styles from Brookwood Fabrics.
Sourcing Journal caught up with DiResta during a break in shooting a new series at his home in New York’s Catskill Mountains.
What inspired you to make your own jeans? Did you intentionally set out to tailor a pair that met an unmet need?
Honestly, it was just to learn. I wanted to dissect a pair of jeans and take them completely apart. I didn’t know enough about denim design and still don’t. I have no formal training, so I decided to modify a pair of my own jeans and let the experts who understand the process take it from there.
What was your vision for the DiResta MakeWear Welders Jean?
I wanted them to be durable. I’m working down on my knees a lot these days because I’m getting old, so my jeans need to stand up to a lot of wear and tear. I also needed a lot of pockets because I’m always carrying around a lot of stuff. I’ve tried to pare down my everyday carry, but am having a hard time because I constantly think of things I need to have with me!
What was it like to work with Christine Rucci, Godmother of Denim, for this collaboration?
Christine inspired me to design and develop a clothing line. She has a connection with CORDURA®, so I decided to try it and quickly realized how versatile and long-lasting CORDURA® Denim is. We decided on the design and came up with a pair of jeans and a jacket with two types of finishes. Working with Christine for this collaboration was a blessing because of her sharp design style for all things denim, and her wonderful spirit.
So multiple pockets are a must-have for any maker?
Yes. You’re constantly carrying tools around—whether you build engines or specify in leatherwork. Right now I’m on a TV set, for instance, so my assistant is constantly carrying around adjustable wrenches in his pocket. So you want a pocket that’s long and slim and can carry these tools without them toggling or slipping over in your pocket and crushing your thigh.
CORDURA®—which is celebrating a Decade of Denim—is a key ingredient in your Welders Jeans. What about this blend makes it the right fit?
Durability is what sets it apart. And it wears comfortably. I’ve been wearing this pair I have on now for about five months, and they’re not showing much wear at all. But they will eventually, of course, and that’s what people love about jeans. They create a visual history of the person who wears them—the impression of a wallet or brass knuckles in the back pocket, for example.
I want everything bearing my brand to have a sense of classic style, and to feel like they’ve been around awhile. I make things with purpose and sustainability in mind, and that are built to last. CORDURA® denim definitely suits that bill. I’m looking forward to seeing how my maker friends and fans put these jeans to the test.
The ‘maker’ culture is hot right now, as the popularity of DIY shows, YouTube channels, books and podcasts like yours demonstrates. What about this subject resonates with fans of all ages and from all walks of life?
We live in a disposable society, and people feel a sense of reward and accomplishment when they make something—anything—for themselves. There’s an unbelievable sense of self when you create something you can use on a daily basis and, even more so, if you get good enough to sell what you make. Doing things with your hands is a healthy gateway drug because your thirst for knowledge just keeps growing. Social media provides so many helpful tools and resources, and so much inspiration. The more you learn, the better you get. I recently got into pottery, for example, which is something I never thought I’d do.
Have more people picked up a hammer or a paintbrush during the pandemic?
Absolutely! Myself included. I’ve had a tremendously creative year due to a lack of travel. I normally spend about 20 percent of my time promoting maker culture and my personal brand, so not having to go anywhere has been amazing.
Your audience and fanbase clearly gets a lot of value out of your content. What do you get out if it?
I’ve been at this long enough to see young makers start their careers and say, “I decided to do this because of what you do.” The fact that I’ve inspired so many people to make so many cool things and find their creative path is really gratifying.
To learn more about Jimmy DiResta’s MakeWear Welders Jeans and how CORDURA® durable fabrics can enhance your fashion line, click here.