Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, Founder
Bilgehan "Hans" Ates
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, Founder


Han Ates is of the belief that less is more in both the design and production processes.

Deep Dive

A promoter of sustainable, local denim manufacturing, Han Ates is of the belief that less is more in both the design and production processes.

The company he founded, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, samples and manufactures small quantities locally for British brands like E.L.V. Denim, Belstaff and more, and produces its own line of fit-perfected jeans.

Upon Blackhorse Lane becoming one of 10 U.K.-based companies that received more than 1.2 million pounds ($1.4 million) by the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology’s (BFTT) Small to Medium Enterprises Creative R&D Program in 2020, Ates set out to use the funds to launch London’s first-ever washing lab.

Ates will be working with the Centre for Circular Design at Chelsea College of Arts to develop R&D around sustainable laundering and finishing techniques, and to create a unique finishing aesthetic for British brands to call their own.

What will the denim industry be like in the next 18 months?

I wish I had a crystal ball to be able to answer this. What the denim industry will be like in the next 18 months? To be honest I have no idea. What we know as Blackhorse Lane Ateliers is what we will be like in 18 months. We will be more connected with the community that we are in—that is our customers, like-minded designers and brands, local universities—and we will create more collaborations.

Another thing we are aiming for at Blackhorse Lane within 18 months is setting up a sustainable open-source laundry for London and the U.K. as well as pledging to become a zero-waste company.

What changes would you like to see in the denim industry as a result of Covid-19?

What I would love to see from the denim industry is to become more locally oriented and also to have fair pay around the globe. Denim is such a well-loved fashion item and fabric around the world, it really connects everyone together and when I see really cheap jeans sold on the high street, I immediately fantasize about how that fabric was produced, with what effect on the environment, as well as worry at the same time about the makers and in what conditions they worked. As a whole, as an industry, we should fight for fair wages, better produced fabrics for the environment, and universal standards for workers.

How do you define sustainability in a post-pandemic world?

The way we look at sustainability has always been about personal sustainability first, and then social sustainability, and then, in the bigger picture, environmental sustainability. For me, sustainability cannot just be one or the other; all three need to connect and balance. If, as individuals, we have slower lives and cut unnecessary journeys by plane, trains and cars, and consume what is absolutely necessary, I think we will be in a very happy place as individuals as well as environmentally.

Describe your dream jeans.

My dream jeans are 10- to 15-years-old, really sky blue with lots of repairs. And they are worn with very smart shoes and a lovely shirt and blazer.

What is your most worn pair of jeans, and why?

My most worn jeans are my E8 jeans. I wear these jeans 300 days of the year. They faded so nicely as if I have the photocopy of my limbs and muscles imprinted. They are repaired a lot on the crotch and on the knees.

Name one word that best describes denim.