Monday, January 10, 2011

Tellason Denim: John Graham Mellor/Joe Strummer Review

There isn't a whole lot better in clothing than a well made and great fitting pair of jeans. However, I didn't always know that. Like most kids growing up in the 90s I started out wearing horribly baggy jeans, slowly moving on to some better fitting denim. Only a few years ago did I discover selvedge and the heritage movement. I'm not sure how I first heard about it, I think I was reading about the history of jeans and stumbled upon the great tales of cowboys and the legendary actors who represented them on the silver screen, but it felt right.

These jeans were my not my first pair of selvedge denim, as I’ve had the Gap straight fit (don’t hate, I feel like they are somewhat underrated for the price) and then the Levi’s ’47 501, so I wasn’t a complete novice when I began looking for something better. With some help from Denim Debate and other reviews, I settled on Tellason. In addition to having a great fit and finish and being made from White Oak denim, these jeans have the fantastic quality of being made right around the corner in SF (SOMA). Even the leather patch is made in Oregon. Probably as American of a product as you can find. As soon as I tried them on at my favorite men’s wear store Unionmade last June, and realized that they are named after my favorite member of one of my favorite bands, I knew I had to buy them.

Recently I noticed that while a lot of people seem to own the jeans, I haven’t come across many detailed reviews or wear photos, not even a follow up to the introduction on DD, so here we go. My $.02.

I have to thank whatever force brought Tony Patella and other denim visionaries together to start Tellason in 2008. You can read about the company history and philosophy on various websites and blogs (ACL, Denim Debate, The Citrus Report, Durable Goods Concern, The Reference Council) and get a feel for the good nature of the owners. Something that I find apparent and interesting among these interviews is that this is not a revived heritage brand or an old workwear firm that is releasing a high-end street wear line. Tellason is a young company with new ideas, but with a strong eye for the way things were done back when they were still done correctly. They are not ashamed to say that they have influences and change things up in a modern way.

Denim: 12.75oz. Cone Mills Raw
Fit: Slim, mid rise with higher tilt back (Unionmade) | Slim-Straight (Blackbird)
Patch: Tanner Goods leather
Wear: 4-5 days a week for 7 months (only 1 initial hot soak)

When I tried them on at the store, I knew they would be perfect. Raw, they were a bit loose at the waist and just right at the thighs. Before wearing, I did a boiling water soak to get all of the shrinkage out. The waist slimmed up to the perfect size, however the thighs became a bit tight. After about 2 weeks of wear, the denim stretched out just enough to make for a perfect fit. I did have to get them hemmed as the inseam was too long, although I did leave enough length for a double cuff (I know it’s not everyone’s preferred look, and it probably makes me seem shorter, but I dig it). It’s been seven months so far, and fit is still good. The seat and knee areas have stretched a little too much, but that is to be expected and is not out of the ordinary. I am thinking about giving them a wash sometime soon, but since I’m so close to hitting the full year mark, I might as well wait.

My basis for comparison at the time of purchase was my pair of Levi’s ’47 501s which I sized to be quite snug on me. After wearing both jeans for a while, overall the Tellasons are looser in the waist and tighter in the thighs, although it’s hardly an issue. There was definitely more shrinking on the Levi's, and they did not stretch out at much. The shrinking of this particular denim was probably about ¾ of an inch at the waist, and an inch and a half at the inseam. However, if you do look into buying a pair of Tellasons keep in mind that they do various production runs of their fits with different, so different denim means different shrinking pattern. For example when I was at Unionmade purchasing these, I had a choice to go with a Kaihara Mill denim or Cone; I went with White Oak to complete the American made scheme, but I could have chosen the Japanese denim instead. I believe they also had a recent collaboration with Blackbird on a 15oz. denim as well as several Tenue de Nîmes so I'm sure the specs for those were a little different.

Fabric & Color
This particular pair was made from 12.5oz. Cone Mills black cast indigo denim. This is a perfect weight because it is not too heavy in the summer and perfect for the mild Bay Area winters. At first the color seemed to be outright black, and even throughout the break-in period I questioned the indigo because the fades were grayish. I got in touch with Tony Patella over at Tellason and he told me that “while the fabric we use looks black because it is so dark, it is actually indigo with a dark, almost black cast.” So hopefully over time more of the blue hues will come forward, although I am really growing to love the almost black effect. The raw denim is obviously stiff so feeling it soften up over time has been a great experience. The strongest signs of fading can be seen around the coin pocket where I kept a zippo for a few months, and the wallet fade on the right back pocket.
The fading on the jeans did take some time though. I feel like it’s only really starting to show through now, and at 7 months it’s taken more time than my other pairs; however I blame this on working in a cube and not getting out much as well as wearing them only 4-5 days a week. Had I been working as a lumberjack I’m sure the fading would be marvelous right away. That said, I haven’t had a problem with the dye bleeding so my lighter colored shoes and belts don’t have dark stains around where they meet the denim.

By far my favorite things about the jeans are the details that go into each pair. Standouts are: reinforced bottoms on the back pockets, durable pocket bags with stamps on the inside that denote specs and lot numbers, the color combo of the stitching and chain stitching, as well as the amazing “LEGAL” tab, that pokes fun at the Levi’s lawsuits on companies that would mimic the red tab, on the inside of the right back pocket (sure makes for a great fade). The minimalist donut buttons and hidden rivets make for a great piece of clothing that is neither flashy nor overly simple. The patch on the back is tasteful and the leather is breaking in beautifully. The western feel to the simplistic logo really stands out from the somewhat cluttered designs of other brands.
Overall jeans can’t get much better than this. Being able to contact the people that made your jeans and fostering a relationship feels so much better than buying a product from a large corporation. They are my favorite pair, and I look forward to getting another at some point. I wish Tellason all the best in their future endeavors, and congratulations on the recent launch of the Tellason x ACL & Co. straight fit!

Company site
Buy Mellor at Unionmade
Buy Straight Cut at ACL Shop 
Buy Tenue de Nîmes x Tellason Nº2 
Follow the Tellason Tumblr


  1. awesome post dude! i've been a strong tellason supporter for the last 10 months or so. they really make an awesome pair of jeans! i just got a size down because of some weight loss, and they're being taken in by tony himself, really stoked on them returning! until then, i'm still wearing ones that are 4 waist sizes too big for me.

  2. nice! it really nice jean and review.

  3. Did your Boiling Water soak you mentioned fade them out?

  4. Awesome fading!!
    I post this on my blog.
    Thank you:)

  5. @simplethreads: glad to hear Tellason has many fans. A lot of people have had a problem with them stretching out, but I love them just the way they are. Post pics of yours when you get a chance. Love your blog.

    @Heber: The boiling water soak was just at the very beginning, quite literally going into the sink after bringing them back from the store. There was some bleeding, but not a whole lot. Since then, I haven't so much as soaked them, so the fading is natural.

    @fortalitia54: Thanks for the link up!

  6. do you know if the indigo dye is natural or synthetic?

  7. As far as the dye on the jeans, I have to say that I'm not certain.

    The thing is, Tellason does a bunch of small production runs of their jeans that use different denim, so you're unlikely to get the exact same denim in your jeans at different retailers. I think the ones I have are natural dye, but I can't say that all of them are.

    If you are interested in getting a pair, you can go to a store or online, and find out the production run, then contact Tellason on facebook and ask them about more information on the denim. They are super nice and responsive.

  8. going to soak mine tomorrow, will post some pics before/after.

    thanks again. keep up the great work.

  9. Hey,
    you can get a pair of Tellason jeans for half the money by contributing to a Joe Strummer film via crowdfunding:

    Thankyou to Tellason for the donation!

  10. For most of the gents, a pair of jeans is the most difficult thing to buy. Many man are extremely frustrated in making right selection. The reason behind is that man may have different sizes as far as posture and statue is concerned. So, sometimes it becomes too difficult to find an item that is properly fitted and can be maintained with great ease. Remember you will look great only if you are wearing a nice and perfect pair of jeans. More Information

  11. Omg, the guys who run this company are the rudest!! I had emailed them to ask a question and got back a very curt, rude email basically telling me they couldn't be bothered to answer my question Their customer service--STINKS! Spend your money elsewhere, these guys IMHO don't deserve anyone's money if they're not even going to try and help a customer with a question. No excuse to be so rude.