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One Thing Done Well: Hiut Denim

Hiut’s Grand Masters of denim hand-produce just 200 pairs of jeans a week. By their own admission, Hiut are dedicated to making the best jeans they can, not the most they can

words by Will HALBERT

On the far Western edge of Wales lies a town called Cardigan. At one time, this little town was home to the biggest manufacturer of jeans in the UK; a colossal factory that put out some 35,000 pairs of jeans a year for over 40 years until they were forced to close. Overnight, one in ten of Cardigan’s denizens, all highly-skilled workers, found themselves out of a job. Enter David and Claire Hieatt, who – in 2011 – set up Hiut Denim with two clear goals: To get the town of Cardigan making jeans again; and to make those jeans to the best possible standards. Eight years on, it’s safe to say they’re making good on both of those fronts.

Hiut make good jeans. In fact, they make great jeans. Some of the best, even. From their choice to source their denim from only the finest mills of Japan and Italy, to their uncompromisingly small-batch, it’s-ready-when-it’s-ready approach to production runs, Hiut have dedicated themselves to doing one thing and one thing well. Bottom line? We like Hiut. We like them a lot. Theirs, after all, is a philosophy very much in line with our own: They celebrate the joys of craft; they revel in the smaller details; and they’re as resolute in their vision as they are exacting in their standards.

But it’s their refreshing candour in the face of the fashion industry’s environmental shortcomings that truly sets them apart. ‘As a maker, everything we do has some impact,’ admits David. ‘We are part of the problem. Let’s not sugar coat that. The question we must ask ourselves today, and every day, is how can we reduce that impact.’ Hiut’s latest Short Run is but one of their many experiments into reducing that impact. Aptly named the Re-Gen Short Run, each pair of these limited edition jeans is cut from a fifty-fifty split of recycled cotton and Lyocell (wood pulp). ‘It takes 2,500 litres of water to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans,’ says David. ‘By using this denim for this short run, we save 312,000 litres of water.’ Boasting a 13 oz, white-listed selvedge from none other than the Candiani Denim Mills of Italy, this small-batch run of sustainable jeans (cut to order and limited to a run of just 125 pairs) uses 75% less water and 65% fewer chemicals. Pair this with denim’s innate tendency to get better with age and Hiut’s lifetime offer of free repairs, and you have yourself some seriously sustainable selvedge. 

In their patent lack of pretense, Hiut say that they simply aim to do one thing well. But that’s a modestly that warrants immediate correction. They make great jeans, no doubt. But there’s more to Hiut than their (admittedly superlative) selvedge wares. In their almost decade-long quest for greatness, Hiut have become a force of moral and economic rejuvenation for the town of Cardigan: They’ve championed craftsmanship; they’ve restored prestige and meaning to those who extol its virtues; they’ve taken a stand against the relentless and reprehensible march of the fast fashion status quo. And they’ve done all of this with a profoundly refreshing matter-of-factness: ‘We make jeans. That’s it. Nothing else. No distractions. No trying to conquer the whole world. We will just do our best to conquer our bit of it.’ 

In the humble five-pocket jean, the small team at Hiut have sent a loud-and-clear message that being environmentally accountable isn’t about sanctimonious showboating; it’s about approachable, practicable, pick-your-battles pragmatism.

As much in their business practices as in their environmental commitments, Hiut have created a business model – and indeed an overarching philosophy – that isn’t just sustainable, but positively restorative. EJ

Hiut’s Re-Gen Short Run will be shipping from August 16th.
To order your pair, or to check out their other styles, visit