• SumoMe

Tellason is a San Francisco-based company that is dedicated to producing high-quality and long-lasting jeans comprising of all American-made products, down to the thread. I had to know more, so I reached out to co-founder Pete Searson (the “Son” in Tellason) and asked him a few questions:

Electrogent: Please introduce yourself to those who have not heard of Tellason.

Pete: My name is Pete Searson and I co-founded Tellason with Tony Patella. The name Tellason comes from bits of both our last names and we wanted it to sound a somewhat Western but not to the extent that it would look and sound like a Dude Ranch or something like that. We are also proud to say that the logo design was put together by Andy Cruz of House Industries. Their body of work is pretty nuts.

E: What inspired you to start Tellason?

P: Tony and I are the same age and have been in the clothing industry for 20+ years each. I would say that both of our experiences were fantastic and we found ourselves around very creative people throughout. We have been great friends for the same length of time and when there was a hiccup in the industry with companies reinventing themselves and shitting the proverbial brick back in 2008, we simply decided to take this opportunity to do something that we both love- to make a proper pair of jeans. We look at the beginning now and know that the economic implosion was positively the best time to build something made well (and priced as fairly as possible). People were forced to rethink their purchases on every level. Did or could they go and buy the same old flash-in-the-pan crap all over again at a time when their wallet was growing thin? No. People thought more about the whole process of buying something, whether it be a washing machine, a pair of shoes or a new piece of furniture. It had to be made better, last longer and be priced well. This is where we came in. Our jeans are made to a very high standard in a place that represents the home of denim- San Francisco. Every component is from the U.S. and this also mattered more than ever as we all know and read about everyday. One ironic thing about us is that considering how small we are (no employees, just Tony and I doing everything), we are making more jeans in San Francisco than anyone. This is not a comment about how big we are (because we are not even scratching the surface in the big picture), but more of a statement about how more things should be made in places where they began. There are huge names in denim in our fair city and it is crazy how they take their production elsewhere. We think this is all driven by profitability and these companies fail to see the residual benefit of making things locally. Maybe this is good for us. It is our plan to enjoy the fruits of making things here for as long as we are in business and people keep buying our jeans.

E: All your denim is made in San Francisco. What is it about that city that drew you in?

P: San Francisco is just a great city and is very well respected around the world. Just be with us for an afternoon when we travel and introduce ourselves to some great shop owner in Tokyo or Amsterdam. You can see the positive reaction when we connect ourselves to San Francisco as the place where we live, work and enjoy life. Chances are they have been here and left with a memorable experience or two.

E: To someone who claims, “All denim is the same,” how do you respond?

P: It is just like anything. Things can look similar to the untrained eye but once broken down by each component, the truth comes out. I am writing this now in an Eames lounge chair that was designed in the 50’s and still relevant today. Take the whole bloody thing apart and you will find some of the best ingredients available, right down to the screws that hold it together. I plan to be an old man sitting in the same chair years from now complaining about my back or something… We take the exact same approach to making a pair of jeans and know that not everyone respects the thought that went into the chair I am sitting in or the jeans that we make. This is fine and something we can just enjoy on a personal level.

E: One of the things I like most about Tellason is how you guys don’t sell “distressed” jeans with fake wear marks on them. You encourage that consumers make their own wear. What do you think of this general trend in huge retailers who sell jeans with fake wear marks and scuffs on them? Is Tellason trying to buck this trend?

P: Ahhhh. Well, I can go on about how unrealistic it is to have a person in a factory with sand paper in one hand and a dremel tool in the other making marks and abrasions in what was once a dry, new pair of jeans. It is an art form to some, but to us it never comes close to real wear patterns. I just took a walk with my family around the neighborhood tonight and we passed a young dude with a beard and there was a chance that he had not seen a shower in some time, but, this kid had on an old pair of Levi’s that I know he wore in from the raw state and now they were perfect. He didn’t give a damn about fashion or special washing techniques. He was just a real kid out there living his life in a van wearing the hell out of an old pair of jeans. I have great respect for this.

E: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
P: Three days a week play squash, then come home and make my kids pancakes from scratch.

E: You sell selvage denim. Explain what this is to someone who might not know, and why they should care.

P: If you dig hearing old, romantic notions about anything and happen to dive into a bit of real denim history, you will need to know about the machines that were operating back when denim became, well, denim. This was fabric being made at a time before things got huge and “industrial” by today’s standards. The looms were small, slow and had their own subtleties about them that gave the fabric they made special. There are wooden parts and leather straps on these machines that give it a true artistic feel. The cotton that goes into these machines is also a higher grade that will add value and durability to the garments made from these machines.

E: How long will the average pair of Tellason jeans last?

P: If you sit in a chair all day and only dream of living the rugged life, they should last you years. If you chop down trees for a living or get around on a bicycle 24/7, they will last you less than that. But, by putting so much quality into the front end of these jeans, there is a big tendency to fix these when they start to blow out, rather than throw them away. If you have a beautiful old pair of leather boots, you know what I mean. Fix the damn thing, get them back and they are more interesting and personal than before!

E: Where do you see Tellason going in 5 years?

P: We want to do exactly what we are doing right now. Let’s grow slowly and with the right people out there and we will do our best to make great jeans and show some real loyalty to our customers all the way. We hem and repair jeans for our customers now (for free) and it is our hope to offer this service for as long as we are around.

E: How hard is it to get in the denim market?

P: Tony said it best a while ago, “the world does not need another denim brand, but it can always use a better denim brand.” With this said, make something well and beautiful and go find your audience…

E: What do you love most about running Tellason?

P: I end each day completely satisfied with the day I just spent and how I spent it. No greater feeling. Very fundamental.

E: How long have you worn your favorite pair of jeans?

P: I am a one pony show. I wear one jean until it really gets worn out then I wash it, put it on a higher shelf in my closet, then start up a new pair. I just started my 3rd pair in November and we are doing fine!

E: What are your guilty pleasures?

P: Surfing, Picco in Larkspur, gelato in Mill Valley, building a tree house with my 2 girls.

Thanks to Pete for taking time out of his day to provide some insight into Tellason and continuing to follow his passions and do what makes him happy. You can check out Tellason’s selection by clicking here.

Have any questions for Pete? Want to know more about Tellason? Ask your own questions in the comments below.