Walk in most clothing shops and you’re adorned with a medley of pre-selected, pre-cut, pre-assembled patterns and fabrics, impersonalized at offsite warehouses and mass shipped to cookie cutter wardrobes. Stan Fraser, owner of two brands, Straight Stitch & Co. and Anarke Jeans Co. knows no such madness. Tackling his passion and taking on every single stitch of it, he conceptualizes, designs, manufactures, produces and sells custom denim experiences – on-site, all in one shop, and with drive and dedication so fierce they almost run the sewing machines themselves.
photographs by joshua galloway // interview by nicole camack
Let’s talk about your brands. How are they different? Who are they for? We have two brands, Straight Stitch & Co and Anarke Jeans Co. Straight Stitch & Co offers Bespoke and custom selvedge denim, with a basic five-pocket silhouette and a focus on custom fits and pieces only. Anarke Jeans Co seeks the fashion forward denim connoisseur, with a medium rise relaxed fit and a low-rise straight leg fit.
Tell us about the significance in those names. For Straight Stitch & Co, we aim to make quality pieces. When people looks at our product we want them to see that even though we manufacture our pieces ourselves, the stitching is straight. Anarke Jeans Co – from the word anarchy – has chaotic pieces, hence the saying, there is life in denim. “With complete chaos and no type of governing, you’re left with nothing but Anarke.” Wear it and rock it hard!
With complete chaos and no type of governing, you’re left with nothing but Anarke.
What motivated you to start? I came from a family that sews so I watched my Mom and my Uncle sew growing up. As a young child, designers like Ralph Lauren and Georges Marciano, co-founder of Guess, were the big brands and I watched their styles, designs and fashion shows and I knew from then that I could do what they were doing. So I started designing and sewing my own clothes and sewing for my friends and selling my own pieces.
You keep family close in what you do. Talk to us about that. My wife is the backbone of everything I do. She helps when she doesn’t even know she’s helping. My mom occasionally does my patterns and helps me sew as well. She’s my teacher, she taught me everything I know. My youngest daughter is into fashion now; she wants to design like me and she’s my biggest fan. She’s at the shop with me every day, and through conversation, I get ideas from her. I’m passionate about what I do, and no one understands that better than my family.
Why jeans? Plans for something else? Denim has a life of its own. I love denim. I’ve loved denim since my very first pair of Levi jeans. I have always watched to see what brand of jean people had on. I live, eat and sleep denim. I have no other plans, just trying to perfect what I’m doing now.
Feelings about the 9-5 lifestyle? I look at it as mass transit; it got me from point A to point B. But if I can work hard for someone else, I can put that same energy into my own business. After being my own boss, there’s no way I can go back to working a 9-5 again.
What do you love most about what you do? I love designing and sewing; it’s my passion. Designing makes me feel free to do whatever; I call it designing with no limits. Sewing allows me to work with my hands and make my designs come to life. Designing and sewing go together. Once I have a design, I have to sew it right away.
Your work is truly concept to delivery, from materials to sewing and all. Talk to us about your work process. We take our time picking out the best fabrics from different countries. How intricate the designs are determines the type of fabric and texture and what country it comes from. Once we have the denim we move to the production phase. We do a prototype first to try and get the right fit and then we run a sample. After the sample is done, we manufacture that jean.
You specialize in unique, personalized experiences. Why do you think your Bespoke experience is important? We offer Bespoke denim jeans which is tailored to fit and custom denim jeans which allows our customers to pick their own color of thread, buttons and patch. They can choose a lock stitch or chain stitch, zipper or button fly, the style of pocket and the type of pocket bag they want. We want people to be a part of what we’re doing, and they can tell people they designed it themselves. Bespoke is tailored to fit.
Where do you get your inspiration? I get my inspiration from old gangster movies and old war movies. They go back to where fashion began – fashion was new back then. Now, so many people are designing alike so going back to the beginning gives me more originality.
Something everyone should try before they die? I think everyone should try skydiving. Everyone should feel that thrill. Skydiving allows you to be free.
What’s in your future? To open up a chain of stores to cloth the world.
601 S. Cedar Street, Suite 205E
Charlotte, NC 28202
This interview was conducted early 2014.