"Safe to say that the end of last year was probably not the ideal time to introduce a premium denim collection, but for the guys behind Tellason — a new San Francisco based men’s denim collection — it was “economy be damned” as they set forward on their mission to make their mark on a wardrobe staple, quality jeans.
Established in 2008 and shipping its first product in 2009, Tellason has already gained a loyal following among some of the best specialty shops in America. The strong stocklist makes sense when you consider the specifics. The first limited run of jeans (some 240 pairs; priced at $198) and made of Cone selvage denim from North Carolina with a leather patch from Portland’s Tanner Goods and all sewn in San Francisco with a strong attention to detail and make. Tellason’s Tony Patella took a few minutes to sit down and chat about the new collection.
ACL: How did you guys get your start in the denim trade?
Tony Patella: In 1993 I opened a boutique in San Francisco and became friends with a local denim veteran, Cliff Abbey. In the ’70s he had a line called Sticky Fingers, which was one of the first “fashion/designer” denim brands — at that time the market was dominated by Levi’s, Wrangler, Britannia and Lee. When I met him in 1993, he was operating a premium denim brand named Claudio Agnelli, which he sold to Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and better denim boutiques across the U.S. He was just in the process of launching a new brand, Sutter’s, aimed at the young men’s and junior’s market. I eventually became a partner in the company and together we built Sutter’s into a well-respected player in the category. We sold the product to Delias, Pacific Sunwear, Urban Outfitters and the best denim shops across the country. We had a great eight-year run and then the ubiquity of private label made playing in the medium price point impossible. I also worked in men’s denim product development and production at Gap in San Francisco for a “cup of coffee.”
ACL: Where does the name Tellason come?
TP: It is a combination of my last name and my business partner’s last name, which ends in “son.” We wanted a name that had a story behind it, that had an old workwear feel to it and that did not involve the words “indigo” or “blue.”"
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