The first American – Japanese denim suppliers
New York-based fashion jeans brand PRPS was launched in 2002 by Donwan Harrell. Harrell cut his teeth at names Donna Karen and Nike. But his passion really lay in vintage denim, authentic workwear and jeans.
Most people familiar with PRPS probably recognise them for their distressed, torn, stained and repaired jeans. These have been the brand’s claim to fame. Several famous actors, musicians and athletes have taken a liking to their pre-distressed jeans. The name of the brand is an abbreviation of the word ‘purpose’ referring to wear and tear of denim as portraying the wearer’s purpose in life. PRPS consists of the three labels PRPS Goods & Co., PRPS Japan and PRPS Noir – the first being the slightly more affordable alternative to the two others.
Harrell does go out of his way to create an authentic looking worn in jean. A lot of time is spent at the drawing board before he reaches the exact wear pattern that he is after in a given collection. After the design is locked down, he personally travels to Japan, China or Portugal to instruct the factory in this painstaking manual process. As each jean is treated individually, by hand, no two jeans are identical and each hole, chafing, discoloring, stain and brushed hem is unique.
The most noticeable difference between PRPS Goods & Co. and the high-end PRPS labels is the level of details employed. Details such as different coloured buttons and pony-skin belt loops are all for the high-end lines.
The effort put into the washing or distressing process is another difference. The Noirs and the Japans have undergone a more rigours process. Of course, all Noir denim is washed with a varying amount of black dye, hence the name.The “Bruised, never broken”-tagline and the cherub-on-crutches logo of PRPS Goods & Co. clearly play on the morphing qualities of distressed denim. Each pair of distressed PRPS jeans carefully mimics the authentic wear and tear of a frequently worn jean.
Harrell, who is a car enthusiast with an affinity for old American vehicles, naturally names his jeans ‘Rambler’, ‘Barracuda’ and ‘Daytona’ – all names of classic American cars from the 60’s. Cars which, like jeans, can take a beating without breaking.
We, at Denimhunters, fully acknowledge the effort and the skills it takes to create denim that looks like it has been worn every day for ten years straight. We also respect the outcome of this process. But there will never be anything better than raw denim you wear in yourself.
Luckily, PRPS also feature high quality raw denim. No matter how you look at it, the idea behind the PRPS brand, the materials used and the craftsmanship involved is right up there with the best of them.
There is no doubt that there is a market for $500-distressed jeans, but as the tagline of PRPS Noir states, “it’s not for everyone”. I’m just glad that you can get the same quality denim in its raw form for less than half of that – from the same brand. I imagine that the price is probably determined more by place of production than by time spent postprocessing the jeans.
The Ramblers are a slim fit jean, pre-shrunk and true to size although they do have a pretty narrow thigh. It seems to me that the leg opening is a little wider than what you usually see in slim fitting jeans. They aren’t as tapered from the knee down as you might expect. This gives the jeans a more traditional look although they definitely are slim-fitting.
While the Japan and the Noir-lines are manufactured exclusively in Japan, the PRPS Goods & Co. Ramblers are manufactured in China or Portugal, but from Japanese pieced goods – something PRPS say is necesarry to maintain affordable prices. As with all PRPS jeans, the 13.75 oz. denim used is made from Zimbabwean organic cotton, woven on shuttle looms by a Japanese manufacturer.
The devil is in the details
Apart from the heavy distressing of many of their jeans, what makes PRPS stand out among quality denim suppliers is the subtlety of the details in jeans like these.
Little things like the selvage details on the coin pocket, the inside of the fly, and on the belt loop on the back. Or the camouflage front pocket-lining or the reinforced back pockets.
Those small details, some of which are hardly visible, emphasise the careful thought and craftsmanship that have gone into the process of creating them. Much more than any distress or tear ever could, but I suppose that is a matter of temperament.
And not to overlook the folded back pocket, perhaps the most significant trademark of PRPS.
Another detail, which is widely regarded as a PRPS trademark, is the use of purple selvage denim. Obviously, a more traditional red selvage has been used on this pair.
Visit PRPS Goods & Co.’s website, check out the PRPS F/W 2013 lookbook at Denimology or get your own pair of Ramblers at 14 Oz. in Berlin or at Farfetch.com.
Note: The jeans in the images have been worn for one month.
Update (17 September 2013): PRPS have just launched their new stylish website, prpsjeans.com, which is a complete hub of everything PRPS; brand information, lookbook and webshop.