Sarah E. Kucharski photo
Marc Nelson jeans
Marc Nelson Denim makes jeans with America in mind.
Marc Nelson may not be a real person, but the designer jeans that company owner George Marcus Hall makes are the real deal.
Located in a warehouse on the east side of Knoxville, Tenn., Marc Nelson Denim is one of only a handful of companies to sell American-made jeans. Knoxville, like much of the South, once was a bastion of the textile industry.
“My family worked at the Levis plant,” Hall said.
However, the textile industry went the way of overseas outsourcing. The community, and the nation, lost the commodity of having something made in the U.S.A. However, the skills Hall’s family had used in the textile mills were passed down—Hall’s mother taught him how to sew when he was just a young boy. When he got to high school, he took tailoring classes, and he furthered his design studies in Los Angeles.
Hall works in high-end, small batches, much like artisan foods. It’s not about quantity; it’s about quality. His first run of jeans numbered only 214—and they were only for men. Hall wanted something he himself could and would wear. His grandfather greatly influenced Hall’s sense of style and gave the company half its name. In his own dark wash jeans, a grey, tailored military jacket over a plum-grey shirt, striped purple socks and black leather lace up shoes, Hall is dapper but comfortable. Now Hall has expanded his line to include women’s wear.
“Women shop more than men,” Hall said with a smile.
His target market isn’t the consumer who buys something cheap, wears it out, and throws it away. Rather he designs for those who appreciate something well made and made locally. His care for each pair of jeans is evident in the process. Rather than creating one model that is simply enlarged or shrunk to make different sizes, Marc Nelson uses a separate pattern for each size, which improves the product’s fit. But for the right price (around $250-$350), one can have a completely custom pair of jeans right down to the denim, pocket linings, and rivets. Marc Nelson jeans run from $160 to $290 a pair for men’s and $205 to $250 for women’s. The company’s Limited Edition Café Racer Jacket in leather goes for $795.
Marc Nelson Denim can be found in stores in Knoxville, Asheville, Atlanta, Kapaa, Hawaii, and New York, or for a more genuine experience, customers can head to the company’s warehouse headquarters at 206 Randolph Street where denim samples and red, white, and blue spools of thread line the walls and seemingly antiquated heavy-duty sewing machines sit threaded and ready to sew.
For more information, visit marcnelsondenim.com or call 800.605.9782.