February 28, 2006

Vancouver denim designer stays true blue

(A radio version of this column aired on Monday, Feb. 27)

Monday morning at the airport, Jason Trotzuk is off to Quebec City. Next week it's Hong Kong and China. Global conquest in the world of denim requires logging lots of flight time. But that's the price you pay, when you design jeans that make women look, as Trotzuk says, "smoking hot."

As founder and designer of the year-old company, Fidelity Denim, Jason Trotzuk has had a dizzying 2005. When women like Cameron Diaz, Lindsay Lohan, and Michelle Kwan don your dungarees, the media takes notice. Trotzuk says, "It's been a frenzy."

With mentions in the New York Times, Elle, and Fashion proclaiming Fidelity "must-have" pants, Trotzuk is capitalizing on the public relations ride but he's also working hard to back the hype up with a strong product.

"People in the press like to focus on the fit," he says. "But there's also the fabric and the finish."

Trotzuk, who sees the classic 501 Levis as the ideal to aspire, wants Fidelity jeans to be more than a fad. He says, "I'm in it for the long haul. We use the best fabrics, that means Italy and Japan. And Fidelity means allegiance and loyalty... so I don't want looks or treatments, holes and stuff, that are designed at 11 AM and out of style by 4 PM. I want women to wear my jeans five years from now."

Then Trotzuk evokes the history of denim pants, from James Dean, to the designer brands of 1970s, to New Wave and the skinny legs, to Bruce Springsteen and the revival of working-class authenticity. He says, "Jeans after 50 years are still essentially the same. There are three things that last in American culture: blues, barbecue, and blue jeans."

With that legacy and responsibility in mind, Trotzuk is constantly in and out of airports, staying on top of the growth of Fidelity Denim. Today's trip will bring him to retailers in Quebec and Montreal where he will collect feedback with customers and fit them in Fidelity jeans. Immediately after that, he's off to Hong Kong and China to touch base with his manufacturers and suppliers.

With so much travel in his schedule, has he considered relocating from Vancouver to cities like New York or LA? Trotzuk answer: "No. The world is getting smaller. Alberta is as close to me as Germany. Asia is just immediately West, if you like to think that way, there's a huge market to the south, and I can be anywhere in the world in 24 hours."

Fit, fabric, finish. Product, promotion, placement. Geography. "I've got all the angles covered," says Trotzuk.

If you want to try on a pair of Fidelity jeans, you can find them at Aritzia, Holt Renfrew, and Fab on West Fourth in Vancouver.

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