Inside the Seattle workshop making selvedge denim double knee jeans
*Photography by Austen Sweetin. BW shot with Mamiya 7 on Ilford Delta 3200 film
Fall has arrived in Seattle. And with it a flourish of color, painting the picturesque city’s surrounding hills with vibrant oranges and yellows. While nature works its magic outside, inside a modest studio space in the Fremont neighborhood, Amos Culbertson works on the latest designs to be stamped Grease Point Workwear, his one-man clothing brand specializing in durable, double knee denim.
Culbertson hails from the vast mountains of Colorado where he was raised on his family’s organic peach farm, The Fortunate Orchard Peach Farm. Growing up on a farm has played a huge roll in his life. As a youngster he learned to farm and live a healthy, thoughtful lifestyle, and to follow his dreams. After receiving his masters degree in biology and being faced with the choice of getting his PhD or working for an oil company, he decided to chose neither and moved home for the summer to get back to farming peaches. It was at this same time that he broke his ankle skateboarding and so to pass the time he picked up an old sewing machine. He took to the craft quickly, and spent his evenings tearing apart old jeans just to sew them back together, learning the ins and outs of jean design and pattern making. Soon thereafter, feeling a need to create a pair of work wear pants that fit well and would last through years of rugged conditions, Culbertson created his first pair of double knee jeans. “Teaching yourself allows you to be more creative,” Culbertson says, “you’re doing it your own way and not someone else’s.”
Now fast forward a handful of years and this one time hobby has become a profession—Culbertson turned the self-taught craft of apparel design and manufacturing into Grease Point Workwear, making denim and leather goods by hand. And though no longer on the farm, the lessons he learned in sustainability are reflected in all aspects of his life, from the things he eats to the things he buys, and in the way he makes jeans.
“Teaching yourself allows you to be more creative. You’re doing it your own way and not someone else’s.”
Alongside his farming background Culbertson is just as much a skater, and a very good one at that. Heavily influenced by skateboarding and the fashion that comes along with it, the clothes he makes are created to withstand the abuse inherent in both working outdoors and skating, with a fashionable look and tailored fit. It’s this unique combination of outside influences that inform Culbertson’s highly conscious approach to life—he creates an aesthetically pleasing pair of pants just the same as he would plant a farm or develop the way he skates.
As a result, Culbertson is a self proclaimed denim head and skate nerd. He puts a lot of time into finding out where his goods are coming from, and whom they are coming from. And so, all materials he uses are sourced from the US and Japan—fabric from Cone Mills in North Carolina, rivets and buttons from Kentucky, pocket bag fabric from Virginia—and hand stitched together in his modest studio space. On an recent early morning we stopped by Culbertson’s workshop to see where and how his jeans, pants and jackets come together, and to make a pair of pants for ourselves.
With echoes of the 80’s show on Seattle’s local KEXP radio station softly drowned out by the sounds of industrial sewing machines, Culbertson finished up a pair of jeans and set out to measure us for another. After getting the run down of the origins and qualities of each of his current stock of fabrics we picked a unique, limited-run military green selvedge twill from Cone Mills—a fabric he had just gotten in and had yet to use. It felt soft, comfortable, and strong—the three things to look for when buying a pair of pants to live up to winters spent traveling around the world in search of deep snow and summers in the outdoors, surfing, skateboarding, and camping.
After a few hours of nerding out on skateboarding and learning about what goes into the making of a pair of pants we walked away wearing a fresh custom pair ourself. (Ed note: after a month of nonstop testing by way of sweating, skating and traveling, our jeans are holding strong and breaking in nicely.) Putting on a garment that you had just watched someone create right in front of your eyes is a strange and awesome experience. And knowing that the character who created it did so not to be part of a fad, or because it’s cool—even though it is—but because it fulfills a deep need to create and continue a life spent working with his hands.
It’s a rare thing to find a pair of pants that will last the test of time, but after spending time with of meeting Amos, it’s clear he knows the secret to making such a pair. Visit Grease Point Workwear to learn more about their off the rack and custom, made to measure wears.