Today, Pippins Denim turns three years old. Not only do birthdays bring with them celebration but also an opportunity for reflection. As a brand, we have wanted to be as transparent as possible; about our products, our journey and the lessons we've learnt along the way. So we thought we'd take the opportunity to take a look back at Pippins over the years so far and what the future might hold.
Simply the best
Pippins Denim started out of the legs of old jeans. Quite literally. Originally repurposing the offcuts of vintage waste into jeans for kids as the business grew so did the need to source a denim mill who still reflected the values of Pippins. And that’s when we found Candiani Denim, a family-run denim mill in Italy renowned for its quality, expertise in artisan textiles and innovation in sustainability. And we’ve been fortunate enough to use their denim ever since. By working with Candiani Denim, we're able to make the best possible product for you with the best possible denim we can source.
We brought sewing back to Sheffield
At the start of 2020, Kaye made the decision to outsource the manufacturing so she could finally remove herself from the sewing machine and focus on other areas of the business. After previously trying outsource a few times before but never finding the right fit, we were fortunate to find a small family-run factory based in London who met our standards and reflected our values. But the dream was always to bring it back to Sheffield and come November, we were able to bring it home. Showing how your denim is made is a key part of our identity at Pippins and it felt like we had lost a little piece of us so we're happy to welcome it back.
Not only does bringing it back in-house mean we can be more efficient and sustainable as we focus on small batch production and closely monitor waste (more on that later) but it also will allow us to create job opportunities in the future and we can share all the ins and outs and the ups and downs with you along the way.
We grew up… sort of
In November last year we released our first capsule collection of adult jeans. It’s something we have been asked for a lot over the years and something we’ve always wanted to do. So we put our big jeans on and stepped bravely into the world of adult sizes. Releasing a new product is always a nerve-wracking experience and adding to the mix a lockdown, you could think us mad for going ahead. Or at least gluttons for self-punishment. But somehow, after 37.3 metres of elastic, 567 cut pattern pieces, 315 individual pockets, endless cups of tea and 1 small bin of denim waste, our first collection of adult jeans were sent off to their new homes in time for Christmas.
We are now in the process of gathering feedback before we embark on collection number two. We want to take the time to really look back at this first collection and take away as much as we can from it. What worked well, what didn't work so well, what can we do next time to make things even better.
If it ain't broke...
Just as important as the changes we've made are the things we've left the same. There's the small things: a packet of biscuits will never last long in the studio, we can never say no to a bit of Kisstory on the radio and guaranteed come 10 o'clock in the morning we're already thinking about what we're having for lunch. But there's also some of the bigger things. We're proud to keep things small. Of course we have big dreams but we never want to lose that special something a small business can offer.
And perhaps most importantly, we still hold the same values. Our focus remains to provide real value in childrenswear by creating high quality staple denim pieces that are comfortable, hard-wearing and made to last. Our ethos is still to keep things simple and to do them well. Overcomplicated products and design don't last and we plan on being here for a long time, just like our denim.
Community is key
Over the past year, we’ve all had to reevaluate what feeling connected means. Whether it’s through endless Zooms, that little smile to the other person out on their daily walk or the five minutes you give yourself scrolling through Instagram as you hide in the toilet from “homeschooling.” These connections have become part of our daily lives and routines. And if this year has taught us anything as a small business, it's that the connection we have with our customers is invaluable.
Our day in the life of denim campaign from last year was all about our community. Featuring our own customers from all over the world, wearing Pippins Denim in their own way as they went about their day. We were honestly blown away by their talent, creativity and style.
Being able to see our pieces being loved and worn on social media is a feeling we'll never tire of. That joy of seeing something you thought of one day actually out in the world, the reassurance - and relief - that you're doing a good job, the drive and inspiration it gives you to keep going. It might just seem like a simple tag, but us small businesses thrive on it.
We’ve also been very fortunate to build an amazing community of stockists across the world. We were even selected to be part of Selfridges Bright New Things and Project Earth edit last summer; a definite pinch-me moment. We sat and mapped out where in the world our denim has been. Where will we go to next? We'll have to wait and see.
Waste not, want not
Another thing which remains the same is our commitment to producing as little waste as possible. And the joy of manufacturing in-house means we have complete control over this. We are currently saving all our scraps and have plans to repurpose them into something else. Watch this space.
What the future brings
Along with plans to repurpose our denim waste, we also have a few more exciting plans in the pipeline including working on developing new products to add to our collection of timeless staples.
With the rollercoaster of a year, also known as 2020, we know that life can be unpredictable but as we move into 2021, and our third year of Pippins Denim, we hope that we can take some positives. We want to continue to remain true to ourselves and our brand. We want to share the joy of making clothes that tell a story and share in your joy of wearing them. And we also want to learn from you, whether that be on how we could improve our collection or what you want us to make next, your voices are what makes us who we are.
So there we have it, some musings and reflections from a three year old. Happy birthday to us and thank you to everyone for sticking with us on this journey. Here's to many more!