Self taught jean maker Roy Slaper of ROY in Oakland, California is one cool character. He also makes a great pair of jeans.
Denim and jeans, why and how?
I get asked this all the time and I never have an adequate answer. I know it disappoints Man's Search for Meaning, but I really don't know why I started making jeans. It just occurred to me one day that I could. It was either this or bending neon.
"How" is much more interesting and relatable. I had a rudimentary understanding of the sewing machine and I had seen industrial ones before. My parents used to call me the wheeler-dealer when I was little because I constantly had some deal going on with someone to trade, buy or sell a bike, skateboard, go kart or motorcycle. As I was coming in the door with a different bike, my mom just loved to say "that's it, buy high, sell low..." The point is, that I like to buy and sell stuff and that's exactly what I started doing with the machines and a bunch of other crap that I had laying around.
At the same time I had to learn to sew, which is pretty easy. But the construction of jeans can be confusing. I was able to work it out pretty well and eventually got to where I felt pretty optimistic. Understand though, that this was no business venture. It was more like building a time machine or a boat in my basement. It wasn't until I started showing people that some folks wanted to actually pay for them. It was really a pressure-filled experience for me, what with not
knowing what the hell I was doing.
Had you had a love of denim or clothes before starting Roy Denim?
Clothes, yes, very much. I was a thrift store shopper. I didn't know much about vintage or anything, I was just looking for what I liked. As far as denim, no, I had little to no awareness of denim. I had some jeans, but I liked wearing work slacks better. Sears made some good ones called "Roebucks" that I wore for years. I would see other dudes on the street wearing them and we would rap about how much better they are than Dickies except for that rip that split in the seam when you sag 'em too much. Clothes are awesome though, I love clothes. Now I like jeans, mostly because its something I envision and make exactly how I want. I make a lot of my own clothing now and since I have attained an understanding of textiles, I get more excited about the
Read Roy's complete online interview HERE. For the printed, deluxe coffee table edition, purchase HERE.
Photography by Scott G Toepfer