Eric John’s path to starting Fitted Underground, a four-year-old upstart making standout custom jeans,was anything but conventional. A former physics and math teacher, John’s background includes time in the Peace Corps and he finance industry — hardly the regular route to launching a denim brand.
It was John’s time in the money world that led him to get fitted for a custom suit, which changed his outlook on denim and sparked an epiphany.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if all my clothes fit so well?” John asked on a recent afternoon at the brand’s workshop. That realization led John to take private sewing lessons, followed by a stint in pattern-making and fashion classes at the famed Fashion Institute of Technology and an eventual departure from his day job to start Brooklyn-based Fitted Underground (named for both the word-of-mouth reputation of the business and its underground location in a Williamsburg warehouse).
“It had a life of its own,” John says of his approach to making the best custom denim for men. As a former soccer player, finding the right jeans — for him, with a tapered fit and room to move in the thigh —was tough for John. A custom approach was the only way to go, and his customers tend to agree.
Fitted Underground is a one-man operation that takes time and care, but the denim — including dark blue selvedge, twill pants, and clean double black denim — can be worn with nearly anything. The number of pants John produces per month depends on the orders that roll in, but the focus on getting each pair right remains the same.
“I’ve just gone through this really slow, gradual process,” John said, noting that his attention on construction, fit, quality and an affordable price point (pairs of Fitted Underground denim start at $225).
Fitted Underground jeans feature rivets and buttons sourced from New Jersey and thread from Georgia. Other touches include a neat camo interior waistband, cotton herringbone pocket linings, and a recently updated back pocket stitching design that pays homage to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The more jeans he crafts, the more John develops a deeper appreciation for the craft — as do his clients, some of whom purchase multiple pairs in the span of a few weeks. “You build a relationship with denim … an understanding,” he elaborates.
Those looking to find a stylish pair of perfectly fitted denim can either head to the brand’s website where you provide your own measurements or get fitted at the Brooklyn workshop. The space is filled with sewing machines John bought from a factory in the Bronx.
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