Behind the Seams: Meet Nate Vormehr, Senior Men’s Denim Designer
It’s official: Behind the Seams, an in depth look at the experts behind Silver Jeans Co. jeans, is back! These spotlights take you deep into our world of denim making and introduce you to some of the amazingly skilled people that are responsible for crafting your favorite fits.
This week, we sat down with our Senior Men’s Denim Designer and style guru, Nate Vormehr, to explore more about him, his background and everything that goes into our best-selling men’s jeans. Nate came to Silver Jeans Co. with years of experience working for some of the biggest names in denim—but it doesn’t stop there. He also owned and operated his own retail store and even designed a full international ready-to-wear collection for men and women before planting his roots at our LA design office. So it’s safe to say that Nate has quite the story to tell.
Nate’s History & Background
Nate has been in the fashion industry for over 15 years, but denim design was not his original career path. He grew up in Kansas and was born into an extremely artistic family. “My mom was a watercolor artist, so I always knew I would do something creative.” It was there that he attended a local college and studied Graphic Design, with the goal of moving to Los Angeles to work in advertising. During college, Nate worked in retail, which is where his initial passion for fashion stemmed from. “I definitely think that helped fuel my interest and curiosity for the industry.”
After a few months in Los Angeles, Nate began doing t-shirt graphics for Monarchy, a cult-favorite lifestyle clothing brand. “It combined my degree with my passion for the fashion industry. I hadn’t really thought that I could actually do something in that business using my degree before this.” It was there that Nate acquired a lot of hands on experience from colleagues who had been in the industry for decades.
“I just felt like a sponge every day, taking in information about the industry from all angles—denim design, fit techniques, sales analysis, graphics. It was such a great learning experience.”
Eventually, the position of denim designer opened up, and Nate was the perfect person for the job. “Even though I was young and had no experience doing that, my boss took a chance on me. I’ll be forever grateful for that, because it got me to where I am today.” Nate quickly transitioned to become the one of the brand’s top designers, creating their whole collection from denim to knits, shirts and shorts. Doing so, he collaborated closely with some of the more technical positions, gaining a well-rounded understanding the entire design process. “I feel like I learned so much doing it this way, diving right into the industry. It was really fun and a great intro into the clothing business.”
Experience Turned Expertise
Nate took his experience at Monarchy and began following his own path in the fashion industry. In addition to opening his own clothing store in Downtown Los Angeles called Number A, he continued designing denim for a number of well-known brands, which expanded his knowledge and skills in denim and the industry as a whole even further.
“Denim brands would come to me when they wanted to revamp their collection or give it new life. I came from a more edgy, vintage denim background and they liked that I had a different take on design.”
From concepting the collections to sourcing trims, even creating unique, authentic washes with some of the best wash houses in Los Angeles, Nate was responsible for these brand’s most successful denim collections at the time. The variety of brands he designed for also taught him a lot about what works within different denim markets and the endless possibilities and options there are when it comes to design.
As if successful designer wasn’t enough on his resume, Nate was simultaneously operating his retail store, Number A, with his wife in Downtown Los Angeles. Buying, marketing, sales, managing—Nate did it all. “It gave me a very street level insight into how people buy clothing and what goes into their decision making. That helped me immensely in my design process too.” The store eventually led to an opportunity to design his own private label collection, which was shown on the runways in Guangzhou, China. “It was an amazing experience and really allowed me to master the process from start to finish.”
A Day in the Life: The Design Process
With a nearly a decade of designing under his belt, Nate started at Silver Jeans Co. in June of 2014 and has evolved to become the vision behind our men’s jeans. “I instantly clicked with Janice, our Vice President of Design, since the moment I started. It was a very fluid process.” Today, they continue to work closely together to create cohesive men’s and women’s collections season after season.
While every day at our LA office is different for him, each collection requires a 3-month design process, which Nate shared from concept to completion:
Step 1: Inspiration
“Janice provides the overall theme for the season, which I then translate to men’s and start looking for inspiration. It comes from everywhere really—vintage trends, denim blogs, current styles, even architectural and interior design. I put it all together in a mood board that represents the direction I’m going for.”
Step 2: Fit Plan
“I then figure out which fits are going to be a part of that season, which I base on what was launched the previous season to ensure there’s always a variety for the customer.”
Step 3: Wash Creation
“I then can start concepting a specific wash (the color and aesthetic of the jean) for each fit. There’s definitely some that work better for certain fits than others. For example, the customer wearing an athletic fit might want something more classic, while the super skinny customer might be a little more fashion forward. I also make sure there’s variety within those so they’ll still have options.”
Step 4: Send to Wash Center
“Next, I’ll narrow it down and send my ideas to Ali, our Director of Wet Processing, who will turn my vision into a real garment. Him and his team have been with Silver so long, it almost always comes back exactly how I want it.”
“I’ve never worked anywhere where the team is so much on same page and has the same vision for the brand. It’s a very cohesive, collaborative environment.”
Step 5: Edit Wash Trials
“I’ll receive the wash trials back from Ali’s team on what we call dummy garments, which is a standard sample in our Allan Classic Fit. Then I’ll make my edits and see what I might want to add, change or remove from the sample, and assign each wash to a specific fit.”
Step 6: Thread Selection
“Next comes deciding on the thread. I generally create a color window for the collection as a whole and then narrow it down to each style. I tend to choose darker threads for darker washes, lighter threads for lighter washes and so on, but sometimes I like to mix it up.”
Step 7: Pocket Scroll Design
“Once I choose the thread color, it’s time to incorporate that into the pocket scroll. This is probably the longest, most challenging part of the process. Not only are our collections fairly big, but we’ve been around for decades so I’m always conscious of staying relevant but also coming up with a design that’s new and not just the same old scroll.”
“When you see that back pocket scroll, that’s how you know it’s Silver. A lot of people buy they’re jeans solely based on that, so I make sure to put a lot of time and focus on that part of the process.”
Step 8: The Tech Pack
“With all of that figured out, I then go one by one through each style and create the tech pack, which features the fit info, wash details, scroll design and thread colors. I send it to our headquarters in Winnipeg where it is then approved and sent off to Ali’s team for production. They then create the jean from start to finish and ship it off to our wholesalers and e-commerce warehouse.”
In Conclusion: Q&A
Now that we’ve shared a little bit about Nate and his day-to-day design process, we decided to end with a Q&A where we get a bit more personal about his passions, accomplishments and what truly sets him and Silver Jeans Co. apart.
What are some of your favorite fits or washes to design and why?
“I would say it varies between our skinny fits and loose fits. Since those are the two opposite ends of the spectrum, they’re a bit more challenging than the rest. Skinny fits are still very new to our customer, and trying to present them in a way that’s more palatable is a fun challenge. Then there’s the looser fits, which our customer has been wearing for decades. For them, it’s difficult to try to create something new and fresh for them, but that’s what keeps the process exciting. As far as washes, I live for creating ones that look truly vintage and authentic. I think that’s one thing we’re really great at and sets us apart from other brands that are three times the price!
Is there anything we do at Silver Jeans Co. with our men’s jeans that other brands don’t?
“Our combination of quality fits with comfortable fabrics and authentic washes. No other brand does it like we do. The jeans I wear everyday are Silver Jeans Co., and it’s really not just because I work here. It’s because they’re so much more comfortable than any other brand I’ve tried. Our fabrics are super soft with just a bit of stretch—you just want to live in them.
“Anytime I get people to try Silver Jeans Co., the first thing they say is how comfortable they are. Our jeans don’t feel like any other jeans out there.”
What’s your proudest accomplishment as a designer to date?
Well, I’m proud to share that we’re almost finished with the process of creating an eco-friendly denim collection. I think that’s something that every company should be striving for, and I’m honored to have been able to help make that happen for Silver Jeans Co. Stay tuned!
Questions for Nate? Comments? We’d love to share them with him! Leave a reply below, or comment on our latest Instagram post @silverjeansco!