Craft / August 2017

Blackhorse Lane Ateliers: Craft Denim

Tucked away deep in East London lies Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, an unassuming denim specialist producing some of the finest jeans in the land.

A line-up of Blackhorse Lane Atelier’s denim jeans in their Walthamstow factory. Photo by Kim Lang.

Blackhorse Road is not the most glamorous destination on the colourful spaghetti that makes up the London tube map. The penultimate stop on the northbound Victoria Line, it’s grey and industrial – a far cry from the polished cool that many associate with east London. Head in the direction of Blackhorse Lane though and you’ll be immediately greeted with a large mural, skillfully adorned across the side of an olive-painted, corner terrace house. It proudly announces, “Welcome to the home of people who make and create”, and it’s a sign of things to come, of what to expect from this modest stretch of E17.

There are indeed many makers and creators dotted along Blackhorse Lane, including those based within the Blackhorse Workshop, a shared space where carpenters, welders and fabricators manipulate circular saws and build things with their bare hands – and people like me stare feebly in bemusement. More aligned with The Rake though, and situated only next door, lies Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, an intimate factory that produces arguably the finest denim jeans in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world.

Yes, it’s a bold statement. After all, how can a young, featherweight upstart from East London rival the heavyweight prize fighters of the USA and Japan? America’s got the history and the big mills, and Japan famously took the US five pocket recipe and improved on it in every conceivable way, not to mention the innovative ways the nation has developed denim fabric itself. Whilst Blackhorse Lane is only just over a year old, it’s manufacturing denim in a way that will please purists, yet with a number of subtle innovations at the core of the brand, there’s plenty going on to attract clients who are interested in craft, yet might normally find the idea of spending £260 on a pair of jeans a baffling prospect.

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Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a former staffer at The Rake.