A BIG hello to everyone and thanks for dropping by for the Monday night edition of the 10@10…’The Brands Behind The Menswear’.
Now I’m guessing most of you that hang around these 10@10 features are into denim in someway or another?
Another educated guess would be that most of you like to view pics of amazing quality Raw Denim and are intrigued by the stories it’s fades portray?
Finally my third assumption is that most of you search (and use) the same #hashtags on a daily basis in your quest to feed your habit with a fix of daily Raw Denim yeah?
Thought so and in that case I can safely assume that you will all have come across the brand Rogue Territory aka @rgt.
Social media platforms, in particular Instagram, are littered with amazing images of the products these guys produce. The words Strider, Stealth, Supply or Stanton are everywhere and not without good reason. The produce the @rgt guys design and churn out have a contemporary edge that makes them pop when you see them on a pic. Karl (Co-Owner) is certainly an innovator when it comes to the design of modern day denim and luckily for us he’s also an incredibly nice and helpful chap that was more than happy to accommodate our 10@10 needs.
Now, I’ve just had my third glass of Malbec and you’re probably only skim reading this in anticipation for the goods so…
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
NAME: Karl Thoennessen
COMPANY: Rogue Territory
ESTABLISHED: October 2008
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California
SIZE OF TEAM: 4 people – 2 Co-Owners, 2 Employees
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: Manufacturing high quality Mens apparel made in the USA
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company Rogue Territory start out?
After a brief apprenticeship, where I learned how to sew and draft patterns, I went to work as a sample cutter at a clothing company in LA. I was there for about 3 months (in my free time I was still honing my pattern making and sewing skills) when the opportunity to open a denim repair business at the world renowned World Denim Bar at American Rag came my way. I put in my notice and immediately set up a meeting with the President of American Rag. A week later I was setting up shop in the Denim Bar where I offered denim repairs, alterations and fully bespoke jeans. That’s when the Rogue Territory Work Shop was born. That was October 2008.
After about a year of running my business in AmRag, the denim buyer asked me if I’d be interested in making some jeans to sell on the floor in the denim bar. Until this point I hadn’t given the ready-to-wear business a thought but quickly jumped at the opportunity. I reached out to a few friends I’d made over the year that have production experience in LA and then went to working on what I wanted the Rogue Territory denim brand to look like, complete with feather, pen pocket and lasso stitch details. In October 2009 I released a small collection (work shirts, three 6-pocket fits and two work trousers). Once the product started selling, it changed my whole idea of what Rogue Territory could be.
2. For the guys that may not know the story. Where did the name Rogue Territory originate?
I wanted to capture what excited me about raw denim. The idea behind Rogue Territory was that a new pair of jeans was the start of a journey, and breaking them in and making them your own made them your “territory”. I drew the word Rogue from the characters that were portrayed on the big screen back in the 50-60s. Actors like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and James Dean (to a lesser extent) played rebellious characters, characters on the fringe of society and they were all wearing blue jeans. I never liked the word rebel so I went with Rogue to capture that idea. Today, for me the name means evolution and exploration. Rogue Territory is and will always be an extension of my personal style and interests, whether that be vintage & military work wear, sportswear, skate and street culture, etc.
3. What are your top 3 bestselling items? Why do you think this is?
Waxed Tan Ridgeline Jacket
The Ridgeline is a slight variation of our signature Supply Jacket. I believe that this style has been so successful because of the unique design combined with the functional and very wearable waxed canvas.
Guys who are looking for a classic slim straight fit with substance both in fabric and subtle details look to the Stanton. We’ve been producing the Stanton since 2009 with moderate alterations and updates applied to the fit along the way. It’s tried and true.
15oz Stealth SKs
Our Stealth denim stands apart. It has a unique hand and look. The Stealth denim matched with the slim tapered fit of the SK make these an easy addition to anyone’s denim rotation.
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
It would have to be our Stantons in any denim weight. Aside from the fit really working for me, the Stanton is where Rogue Territory started. Any free time I had between denim alterations or custom projects (back when I was a tailor) was spent making myself the perfect pair of jeans. I went through so many patterns and iterations. So many hours were poured into the making of the Stanton, I couldn’t even tell you how many. From the very first pair of jeans I made, I was constantly tweaking the pattern and the construction / sewing details. I distinctly remember wearing the first pair of jeans I made. Leslie was so excited for me, she was telling all our friends about them and how I made them, and all I could think about was all the things I wanted to change on the next pair, ha! I would wear 1 pair for about 2 months and once they were good and broken in, I’d go back to the pattern and start changing things.
Working at the work shop in AmRag was what led to the addition of the pen pocket. On any given day I’d find myself on the sales floor talking to a customer about denim and I would wind up putting my drafting pencil down and forgetting about it. In an effort to minimize the amount of pens and pencils I misplaced, I decided to incorporate a hidden pen pocket into the jeans I was making for myself. When it came time to design what is now the Stanton, I knew the pen pocket had to stay.
5. What are your thoughts on the rise of Instagram fashion and the chaps that post their clothing on there to help spread the word of their fave brands?
Our approach was never to tell customers how they should look or what sort of lifestyle they should have. I think this really resonated with people, it gave them the freedom to explore the look that they wanted for themselves. Social media has been huge in really magnifying that concept. We’re stoked that guys and girls from all walks of life have been able to adopt RGT and make it their own. IG in particular has really allowed guys to share their passions and ideas with a like-minded and supportive community and we’re stoked that we get to be a part of that.
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
Absolutely. IG was a game-changer in my opinion. Before IG, we had a small loyal following on the forums, but the interaction and engagement on forums vs. IG is very different. I distinctly remember when I started actively using IG, it was in 2010 and Leslie and I were going to Buenos Aires for vacation. I made a prototype of the Ar-G Trouser for the trip (named Ar-G for Argentina) because I needed something like that in my wardrobe and the weather in Dec in Argentina is not the most friendly for raw denim. It was awesome to share that process on IG and have people be able to comment and be apart of that. That’s really what IG was all about. We have an insanely amazing loyal customer base and I think IG played a huge role in that because it gave us a platform to connect on a personal level with our customers, which has also paved the way for new IRL friendships.
7. Is there any feeds on IG that you particularly like to check-in on regular. What brands are you fond of on there? What menswear feeds to you like to peruse?
I follow a few vintage clothing dealers, my favorites being @orangepancakes who is the owner of Raggedy Threads which has 2 locations (LA x NYC). The other being @american.denim.parano. I’m always looking for inspiration and these guys are always finding and sharing unique pieces.
@berrics & @thrashermag – I need my skating fix! I don’t have much time to ride these days but I’m a skater at heart, have been since I got on my brother’s board when I was 8 years old. I really love and respect what both of these contributors have done for the skate community. They’re impact on culture goes way beyond skating and I love following along in this ever evolving community.
There’s also 2 of our stockists who I think do a great job of taking RGT and introducing our products to their customers on IG in their own way with a distinct POV and that’s Blair Lucio of @generalquarters for a classically Americana look and Ben Neuhaus of @snakeoilprovisions for a more streetwear meets mature contemporary vibe. Ben and Blair have created their own styles that are both uniquely their own, timeless and relevant.
8. A quick one about you. Other than the business, what passions do you have in life? What flicks your switch and helps you relax?
My family is a huge part of my life. I love being with my 2 daughters and wife & co-owner Leslie. We are so fortunate to be able to spend so much time with our girls. Other passions include constantly exploring all types of art and design. Skateboarding (which has been put on hold for the time being)…and eating. Can’t forget eating!
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
That I get to work with Leslie. She constantly challenges me and inspires me. She trusts me and I trust her. We’ve always been on the same page and every day has a new challenge that we get to work on together.
10. And Lucky Last, You’re going to be stranded on a desert island and you can take 1 outfit (4 items) only with you. And 1 choice of drink.
What would they be? And Why?
Let’s assume that this desert island is somewhere that has a temperate climate because I don’t make that many things that will perform well in tropical climates. I’m not about to bring heavy denim and waxed canvas to the tropics. #deathsentence
I don’t wear any other brands but my own so that makes this easy.
Waxed Tan Ridgeline – to battle the elements and keep me dry and steezy and also for collecting water…and it will make a good pillow.
Olive Neppy Flannel Hunter shirt – because I’ll be hunting and it’s a “Hunter” shirt, duh. The color will help me blend in to the environment. It’s also super comfortable!
16.75oz Slub Stantons – I need heavy denim for protection when I encounter a bear or wild boar and they want to throw down. I can also use them to catch fish in the streams and rivers while simultaneously doing a cold soak.
RGT Chelsea boots – but I’d have to make a new version before I plan on getting stranded on a desert island. Probably need a pair with oiled cowhide instead of split suede.
Wild Turkey 101 – I’m not much of a drinker these days but since I’ll be collecting water with my jacket, the WT-101 will be perfect as a disinfectant or for liquid courage (when battling said bear or wild boar).
Loving the idea of the island outfit my friend. However, I have to say, don’t think you’ll be standing out from the crowd buddy as every other chap we ask this question tend to take a piece of Rogue Territory to the island in one way or another! Learn to grow cotton on their Karl and you are back in business brother 😉
In all seriousness though, Karl thank you for taking the time to enlighten us on how the @rgt magic started and we wish you all the best for the future. I hope we get to speak again soon!
Ok, well, how do we follow that?
I say let’s start with a New Yorker named Mr K. Bash aka @illbash. Sounds like a decent start to me and @illbash will be sitting behind the 10@10 hot-desk this Thursday, filling us in on what it is that makes his very sharp feed tick!
Next Thursday sees us veer away from denim for a week but no need to panic as we’re not going far at all with @trumanbootcompany answering the 10@10 for us! 😀
Have a tip-top week peeps!