Travis Butler is betting the Richmond market has room enough for another high-end custom jeans startup.
The 25-year-old Richmond native launched Daycreature Denim, an online men’s jeans retailer. Butler designs the jeans to order and assembles every pair by hand. They start at $180.
Butler, a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, started Daycreature last summer and sold his first pair in October. He’s filled about 20 orders so far.
Daycreature will be Richmond’s second high-end denim merchant. Shockoe Denim opened in the Shockoe Slip in October, but Butler said he’s confident the Richmond market can support both companies.
“Denim has become a big business in America,” Butler said. “It’s a lifestyle for a lot of people. I’ve had customers from age 17 up to age 60.”
Shockoe Denim owner Anthony Lupesco, who met with Butler a few times over the summer, said there should be room for both companies.
“He’s a talented guy,” Lupesco said. “I say the more, the better.”
It takes about eight hours to make a pair of jeans from start to finish, Butler said.
“When I started, it took about 12 or 13 hours to finish a pair,” Butler said. “Working with denim is a lot different than working with silk or other fabrics. I basically had to re-teach myself how to sew after.”
Butler taught himself how to sew while studying digital art and art history at Elon University.
“When I got out of school, I didn’t want to pursue fine art,” Butler said. “I was looking for something more egalitarian. And this is something I was really interested in.”
After finishing an internship with Connecticut-based Hartford Denim, Butler said he decided to branch out on his own. He invested about $5,000 in raw materials and a vintage sewing machine.
Butler orders the bulk of the denim from North Carolina-based wholesaler Cone Denim Mills. He works primarily with raw and selvedge denim, material that’s spun on a loom. Customers can choose from different thread colors and natural dyes.
“It’s the same material the old Levis were made out of,” Butler said.
Butler currently works out of his home, but he’s searching for a work space in Oregon Hill or the Fan. He plans to expand into women’s wear by the end of the year.