Ryan Finke, owner of Covet Denim is Denver’s denim doctor. He began saving jeans and the planet four years ago when he realized there was a problem. Western culture was the biggest contributor to waste. The combination of shop-o-holic behavior and cheaply made clothing results in 21 billion pounds of textiles in landfills, emitting methane. Prior to salvaging jeans, Finke studied industrial design and quickly became familiar with the product life-cycle. “This behavior is creating waste and damaging our environment. The current cradle-to-grave rapid consumption and waste of manufactured clothing drove me to create Covet Denim. I take advantage of these discarded jeans and put them back into the system,” said Finke.
Denim has been a part of the American culture for generations. It started in 1872 when Levi Strauss created work-wear dungarees that were made to last through tough conditions. Finke extends the life of denim further with his repair service. “When you find a good pair of denim, you hold onto them.” Finke comes across denim from all eras through Aidan the Merchant online vintage boutique.
Denim is the fabric of Ryan Finke’s life. He owns well over 50 denim jackets and always wears jeans. He is able to identify the era of Levi’s jeans from the tab color and font on the back pocket. Finke is the king of denim. The local fashion community loves Covet Denim for Finke’s denim repairs and resale at vintage boutiques. He is able to extend the life of nearly every pair of jeans he comes across, making him indispensable, so we had to go to the source and learn the tricks of the trade.
303 Magazine: What’s the secret to getting your jeans to last?
- Avoid over-washing them after one wear or not washing them enough. Over-washing and leaving dirt and oils wear down the fibers quickly.
- Let them air dry, especially if they have spandex.
- Stains can be taken out using OxiClean or alcohol and cold water. Be patient, it takes time to remove it.
Finke takes on the challenge of upcycling any pair of damaged jeans and denim jackets. He does seamless repairs, patching and darning. Sometimes, he gets creative with Sashiko stitching — a decorative reinforcement stitching. It gives the denim some character and style, if that is what his customer wants.
If you love your denim and it starts to fall apart, Covet Denim can restore it in unique ways. It won’t cost as much as purchasing a new pair and it’s environmentally friendly — repairing, not replacing is sustainable and helps reduce waste.
Photography by Karson Hallaway unless otherwise stated.