Inside J Brand's Denim Factory

See how a pair of jeans gets made, from concept to shipment.
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See how a pair of jeans gets made, from concept to shipment.
Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

New York may be where fashion gets made, but Los Angeles is where clothes get made. With more than a third of U.S. apparel production happening in the Los Angeles metro area, it's where many of the made-in-USA t-shirts, jeans and handbags in your closet are produced. And denim giant J Brand is one of the city's most influential leaders. J Brand CEO Jeff Rudes, who founded the label in 2004, is widely credited with bringing the skinny jean to the forefront of denim trends. (Where it has stayed for almost a decade.)

At the end of 2012, Fast Retailing -- the Japanese company that owns Uniqlo, Theory, Helmut Lang and others -- bought a big chunk of J Brand (80.1% to be exact) for a reported $300 million. While the company is undoubtedly transforming, Rudes's dedication to Los Angeles and more particularly, clothes made in Los Angeles, is unwavering. Almost every pair of jeans J Brand sells is made in its downtown LA headquarters. Which, between the corporate offices and distribution center, takes up a full city block.

Just days before Fashionista's Los Angeles conference earlier this month, I paid a visit to J Brand's headquarters to meet several of its 235 employees. Click through to see how a pair of jeans gets made, from concept to shipment.

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Welcome to J Brand. This is where creative director Donald Oliver and his team get shit done (i.e., map out each collection). Oliver was hired by the company in 2011 to design its ready-to-wear collection. Before J Brand, he held top positions at several big fashion houses -- other gigs include DKNY Jeans, Gap and Calvin Klein.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

A rack of pieces from the Spring 2014 collection.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

On to marketing. This is where the public relations team keeps track of its press placements.

Photos: Matt Waugh

Photos: Matt Waugh

The marketing team might not be designing, but they do sit amidst thousands of samples, archival pieces and new product that is shuffled in and out.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

Next up is the pattern room. This is Star, one of the pattern makers. She drafts her patterns by hand, but most of her coworkers use a computer program. "It just depends on where you were trained," she says of the differences in technique.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

A blown-up version of what the pattern labels look like.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

This is the sample room, where the originals for every design are sewn.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

One of the master sample sewers, hard at work.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

The sample room's extensive thread inventory.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

Zippers, pre-attachment.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

One of many racks of archival samples. When asked how many pieces are in the archive, a J Brand spokesperson said, in all seriousness, "Too many to count!"

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

One of many fabric rooms.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

Finally, the production center! This is where almost every pair of J Brand jeans in the world gets made.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

This guy is steaming down the seams of every pair of jeans in the facility.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

This gentleman sews pockets onto every pair of jeans with this nifty machine.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

Quality control time. Every pair of jeans must be examined for flaws.

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This is me with Blake, a J Brand PR coordinator and my tour guide for the day, and Mrs. Kim, who runs the factory. Mrs. Kim has been in business with J Brand's Jeff Rudes for decades, and is known for her incredible attention to detail and unwavering obsession with high quality.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

The storage room, where all inventory is kept before it's shipped out to retailers.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

Stacks of denim.

Photo: Matt Waugh

Photo: Matt Waugh

A shipment of jeans being prepped to send out.