Meet Up Monday: Shockoe Atelier

It’s not just jeans anymore.

Launched as a niche premium denim brand three years ago, Virginia-based Shockoe Denim recently changed its name to Shockoe Atelier to reflect its product expansion to a full-on men’s collection. Its made in Italy shirts, jackets and other items will be in stores soon and complement its denim offerings beautifully. Brand founder and head designer Anthony Lupesco recently filled us in….

What’s the background of Shockoe Atelier?

We started in 2012. My family has been in the apparel industry forever and they have mostly worked on luxury Italian fashion. So in 2012 I asked my dad to help me start a jean factory here in Richmond and the first words he said were “I only know how to do real clothes.” Eventually I convinced him that jeans were real clothes as well but I do think that became part of the philosophy of how we actually make the jeans, which is taking this construction approach that is usually applied to high-end tailored garments.

What is that approach exactly?

It’s a lot of handwork. It ‘s a lot of single-needle work. We still press and fold all of the seams by hand, which makes for a stronger piece but also gives it more life.

How many jeans styles do you offer?

We’ve got four different fits and we have a pretty big selection of fabrics. Seasonally there are at least 10 new jeans and ten new fabrics. We have five fabrics that we really use as core fabrics.

What are those?

The core fabrics we offer are black jean with stretch and all of the mills we use are either Japanese or Italian. And we have a selvage with just a touch of stretch that makes its super comfortable. Then we have more of a heavyweight fabric with a lot of texture and that we get from this really amazing mill in Japan and that is our true “denimhead” jean. Then we have another 100 percent cotton with no stretch that’s got a tinted weft so the inside is a little more brown/creamy color that gives it a lot of character.

When and why did you expand the line from just denim?

We started that last year so the first season will be available in stores around August. We really wanted to branch out the product offering. We started reaching out to the factories in Italy that my dad worked with. We just went full speed ahead on creating a full collection. The idea really started with trying to frame the jeans that we make and we felt that doing a traditional workwear line wouldn’t complement it in the best way. For the fall we have blazers that are completely unstructured but we do have a floating canvas in the chest piece and in the lapel. The idea is just like the jeans we want everything to get better with age.

What are your favorite pieces in the new line?

Blazers, overocoats, pea coats, shirting. And we’ve really fallen in love with this one mill in Italy that specializes in baby alpaca so it is super, super lightweight but warm. As it ages it just picks up so much character. And the idea with the lack of structure and the fit is that I want the jackets when you put them on to feel the same way that your favorite pair of beat up jeans feel. Like you’ve had it forever and that it’s really yours and that it’s really comfortable. I guess it’s the clothing equivalent of soul food.

Do you design everything yourself?

It’s pretty much me and my father. So you can imagine there is a lot of screaming followed by not talking to each other for a day or two and then my mom makes sure we get back together.

What can we expect next from Shockoe?

We are really trying to hone it in. We started out at the top end of the sartorial end of the spectrum but this next spring we started including a lot more casual pieces. I’m hoping that by next fall we can really say we’ve got a complete line that you can really fill your wardrobe with it and not really need anything else.