How VENIM’s Custom Denim Jackets are Shaking Up the Denim Industry

From the original article by Sarah Maberry

When VENIM co-founders Leslie Fong and Kaycee Houchin joined forces to found their California-based streetwear brand in 2018, they decided to go against the status quo of the denim industry from the very start. The result: custom denim jackets that fuse a timeless Americana aesthetic with forward-thinking design details.  

American-made denim is deeply rooted in tradition, stuck in the grey space between timeless wardrobe staples and modern streetwear. Though almost everyone wears its products, the denim industry as a whole has an outdated approach to fashion. By sticking to a classic all-American look and gendered sizing, they've begun to miss the mark with modern customers looking for inclusive brands with high-quality products. 

VENIM is disrupting the denim industry by offering custom denim jackets made in America with conscious design, genderless sizing, and endless options for personalization. They’ve deliberately broken away from the old-fashioned ideals of West-coast denim brands to form their own identity that speaks to a new generation of denim customers. 

Designed & Made in California

Both VENIM co-founders credit their lifelong love of denim to their California upbringing. “Denim is very West Coast,” says VENIM co-founder Leslie Fong. “It’s the heart and soul of it.” Born and raised in the birthplace of denim, it’s little surprise that the duo decided to keep their denim brand close to home. 

Fong and Houchin run the brand out of San Francisco, allowing them to closely oversee garment production in the Los Angeles area. Conscious local production not only reduces the environmental impact of their denim by cutting out overseas shipments, but it also stays true to California’s longstanding history of denim production. Employing garment workers in their local community ensures the rich tradition of American-made denim is not lost in the rapidly-changing global fashion system. 

Rethinking Denim’s Americana Image 

VENIM is about more than just creating high-quality American-made denim jackets; it’s about moving forward the narrative behind them. While the brand embraces denim’s Americana roots, they aim to push past the outdated all-American image and modernize the denim industry. 

Ever since Levi Strauss himself invented the first pair of modern jeans in California in 1873, denim has become a central part of West Coast style. While other American jean brands associate themselves with an unflinching all-American aesthetic, VENIM looks both to the past and to the future for inspiration. The result is timeless Americana pieces reimagined with forward-thinking streetwear flair.  

“Denim itself has so much history rooted in it,” notes Fong. “The application we give it feels very forward...Our designs feel a little bit futuristic.”

 VENIM’s two signature details pay homage to the co-founders’ California roots while adding a retro-futuristic feel. Their customizable racing stripe pays homage to Fong and Houchin’s fathers, who both loved car culture. The metallic foil finish embodies the rich nightlife and LGBTQ culture of the San Francisco-area they call home.  

Genderless Denim Designed for Everyone 

Another way VENIM is pushing the boundaries of traditional denim: their forward-thinking genderless sizing system. “Something as simple as a denim jacket doesn’t need to be gendered,” says Fong. “We wanted to come up with a sizing spectrum, fit, and silhouette designs that were accommodating to any gender.”

Though genderless sizing is still a new concept in the fashion industry, great-fitting denim certainly is not. While their genderless sizing system may feel a bit foreign at first to conventional denim customers, it comes as a breath of fresh air to young customers looking for inclusively-sized garments that actually fit well.

VENIM co-founder Kaycee Houchin developed a keen eye for denim during her time in product development at Levi Strauss & Co. Her stint at the jean-industry giant helped her understand exactly how denim should fit, feel, and perform— knowledge she used when developing VENIM’s custom denim jackets.  

“Our sizing fits from petite to plus-size and any sort of body type regardless of how you identify,” says Houchin. “We’ve developed the sizing right into the pattern... The fit of the jacket works for a lot of different body types.” 

Unlike other genderless denim jackets that rely on super-oversized fits and minimalist styles to appeal to broader customer bases, VENIM takes a more personalized approach. Their custom denim jackets are available in not just multiple sizes but multiple lengths as well, allowing wearers of all shapes, sizes, and gender identities to find the exact silhouette they’re looking for. 

Customizable Denim Jackets That Go Above & Beyond

For most denim brands, customization means adding monogrammed initials to preexisting styles. But to VENIM, custom denim jackets provide the opportunity to tell a story through your clothing. In addition to ensuring customers find the perfect fit, the brand’s interactive customization tool allows users to carefully select every detail of their custom denim jacket to ensure it’s exactly the piece they were looking for. 

Shoppers can choose the exact wash, finish, and button color they want on their jackets, resulting in hundreds of unique combinations. Whether it’s adding your favorite shade of metallic foil or emblazoning your signature phrase down a racing stripe sleeve, their one-of-a-kind pieces allow wearers to express their personal style however they choose. 

“Customization is really fun. People get to put their point of view and their soul into their design,” says Fong when asked about VENIM’s made-to-order denim. “The jackets themselves are a conversation starter,” adds Houchin. 

Thoughtfully Designed & Built to Last

In a denim industry overrun with cheap fast-fashion products and overly trendy designs, VENIM prides itself on pieces with staying power.  “Customization is in its own way a sustainability effort,” says Fong. Creating a personalized denim jacket based on your individual style— not on short-lived industry trends or recommendations from social media influencers— ensures it will never go out of style. 

“Our motto is fewer better things,” notes Houchin. “Quality over quantity.” Each custom denim jacket is made-to-order using deadstock fabrics from the same textile mills used by top names in the denim industry. By focusing on high-quality materials and craftsman-like construction, VENIM’s outerwear is durable enough to take on years of everyday wear. 

These aren’t garments you wear until next season; they’re garments you wear for life.

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