When clothing designer Salvia Lani moved three years ago from Hawaii to Minnesota, she didn’t want to choose between fashionable and warm.
“I moved here for love, but I got tired of freezing my butt off,” she said.
During a subzero cold spell last winter, Lani went to work creating a cold-weather jean without the heft of flannel.
The jeans in men’s and women’s sizes are designed to be warm even when the windchill creates a feels-like condition of 60 below. Made in a factory in northeast Minneapolis from imported fabrics, the jeans subtly embrace the North. For example, ice-blue colored thread is used along seams instead of the more traditional red or orange.
The rivets, buttons and leather patch on the back waistband are all stamped with a snowflake icon. The back pocket tab, usually stamped with a brand such as Levi’s, says “Made in MN” inside an outline of the state.
The jeans are made with three-layer bonded material — the denim; a windproof, waterproof, breathable membrane layer in the middle; and a lining that wicks away moisture.
Lani tried to source the fabric domestically. But she found that factories overseas, especially in China, were more advanced in manufacturing high-tech fabrics.
“I found one mill in the U.S. that makes bonded fabric, but it doesn’t look like denim,” she said. Her line of jeans includes three colors and boot cut and slim fit sizes that range from XS to 2X.
“Typically, flannel jeans are more bulky,” said Lani, 25. “These have a sleeker look. If you get flannel-lined jeans wet, you’re out of luck.”
She said the jeans are the first of their kind. Others may be waterproof or windproof but not breathable. Lani wanted her jeans to be comfortable indoors, too.
The jeans are currently on sale for $179, regularly $199. They are made and shipped under fair labor and ecological guidelines. The waterproof fabric is free of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorocarbons. All the product packaging is recyclable and biodegradable, even the hang tag string, shipping labels and packing tape.
The jeans are available only at arcticdenim.com, but Lani expects to have the jeans available from small independent retailers next winter.