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The Denim Company Who Makes Meghan Markle’s Jeans

The Denim Company Who Makes Meghan Markle’s Jeans

♪ For 40 years, Cardigan had Britain’s
biggest jeans factory. They made
35,000 pairs a week. And, in 2002, you know,
that factory closed. Sick… sick. I’ve got to travel 4 hours
a day to have work. Yeah… (sniffles)
I gotta go. Good luck. When Dewhirst
Factory closed, it was a very sad time.
It was like a bereavement. It’s a shame
Cardigan’s come to this. Cardigan’s gonna be
absolutely finished, it is. When you suddenly shut those
factory gates for 400 people out of a town of 4,000,
that rips that community apart. For us, it had. The mission is to go and get
400 good people their jobs back. ♪ (juicer buzzing) (laughs) (indistinct speaking) ♪ – How are the eggs, girls?
– They’re good. She’s gonna leave us.
You’re gonna leave us. Life as a student,
in London. What are you looking
forward to the most, then? I think it’s more exciting
than here. (laughs) I think that’s what it is. The thing about London is
though it’s so expensive. Accommodation’s
more expensive; going out is
more expensive… – Staying in is cheap.
– Yeah. (laughs) Yeah, staying in
is just as cheap. (laughs) ♪ I used to have
a car, right… When I started my
previous, first business. And, the petrol gauge… wouldn’t work, so
I never knew if I had a full tank or any empty tank. (starting engine,
revving) So when I went to the
market stalls each day, I made sure that I sold,
so I could put petrol in the tank so
I could get home. And if there was a day
where I didn’t sell, I didn’t know if I was
gonna get home or not. ♪ Living in Cardigan,
in west Wales, it’s a small town. It’s a hard-working town. It’s 4,000 people. It’s an old market town. It’s, you know, it’s had its
boom years and its bust years, and the farming
community is very strong. ♪ They love endeavour.
Do you know what I mean? They love it when you work
hard and you are humble. I mean, and I think they
don’t like it if you come in and say, “I am the big…
I am…” That’s not this town. ♪ (machines buzzing) We could have
chosen many things, but… The one thing that my
town does better than almost any town in the world,
is make jeans. ♪ We wanted to combine our
first two letters of our surname with the first
two letters of “utility”, so it was H-I-U-T, “Hiut”. And people go,
“How do you say it?” I’m going, “How do
you want to say it?” And you can say
“hy-oot”, “hyit” “hweet”. Who gives a shit? ♪ 6 years ago,
when we started, there were 5 of us. And right now,
there are about 20 of us. ♪ (machine buzzing) ♪ We make 150 pairs a week. I mean, the context
for that is, you know Aston Martin probably make
more cars than us, a week. So, it’s a very
small amount of jeans. ♪ I’m more, like,
building the brand. And, Claire is more about running the business
side of things. I’m a bit more strategic and
he’s a bit more out there. So, he’ll go,
“Why don’t we do this?” And I’ll go, “Yeah, okay,
but how are we gonna do it?” So, I kind of work out
how it could happen, so we have our moments, but
we kind of work well together. (indistinct conversation) And, now she
keeps reminding me, she has one more share in
the company than I do. (machines whirring, buzzing) The metric for
business for me is, work with the
people you want to, and look after them. And so, you have all those
different characters who bring their
interests, and therefore, shape the company. ♪ Paul is, you know, the person who’s in charge of
repairing all the jeans. We know that he has,
you know, a few loves.
One of them is surfing. And the deal that we
struck with him is, if the surf’s good,
he doesn’t have to come in. It would be more tricky
if we lived in Hawaii. (laughs) ♪ Andrew’s not gonna win
the award for the happiest human being
on the planet… But if you study teams, every great team
will have a captain. They won’t go to
the dinner parties. They’re there to
make shit happen. And Andrew’s that captain. ♪ Rob is… I’ll tell you a
story about Rob. We were going through the first
years of growth and struggle, and he kept phoning up,
he said, like, “Have you got any work?
Have you got any work?” So when we got him in,
it was like a great thing. They taught me the skills
for me to be here for the last 5 and a 1/2 years,
and it pays the mortgage, for you to have a family,
to have your home. It’s really exciting to be
able to work for a company like this because
you’re doing something that everybody that
works here cares about. In this area, a lot of young
people have tended to move away from here
because they haven’t found the opportunities
that they wanted, so I think the Hiut’s are
really helping in Cardigan. I thought I’d have to move
to London or to San Fran to find a company
that thinks this way, to get that creative output,
’cause in Wales it’s not really a thing, but funnily enough,
now we’ve got out of London coming to us to ask us
for advice. (laughs) (sewing machine vibrating) I’ve been making
jeans since I’m 15. In the Hiut factories,
we do everything by hand. (machine vibrating & clicking) So that’s more satisfaction
at the end of the process, where, you can look at a
pair of jeans and you’ve done it all, and you’re
proud of what you’ve done. For Grand Master Elin,
she’s not very tall, but she’s like the most
powerful person I’ve ever met. I mean,
she runs the factory. (machines buzzing) Malcolm Gladwell wrote in
one of his books that it takes 10,000 hours to be
a Grand Master at chess. Claudio has probably
done 50,000 hours of learning to cut jeans. He is beyond a Grand Master. The reason I call them
“Grand Masters” is I actually want to
celebrate them as makers, and so, I thought it was
really important that we understood that these people are everything to this company. The way we made jeans at
Dewhirst, when I first started, you had a row of
30 or 40 machinists. Each machinist would just
do one operation of the jean and the next step would
be the next operation, and so on and so on. The difference is, with Hiut,
the Grand Masters – as they call them now – make the complete garment
from start to finish. ♪ I left school a shy,
innocent 15-year-old, coming into a factory. Then I was made
redundant after 38 years. ♪ NEWS: Of all foreclosures,
the town of Cardigan is probably least
equipped to cope. It’ll double
the jobless rate, and with nothing but
economic decline on show, it’ll be a massive task
to find alternatives. In such a difficult
employment market, it’s hard to see where
these 435 workers will go. A sad day. It’s like
a family breaking up. So I’m really in
tears now, I mean, saying goodbye to friends. ♪ We are standing in the
old Dewhirst Factory, where I first started,
50 years ago. I came in with the intention
of maybe only staying here for a couple of years,
but ah… ended up 38 years. (clanging) I knew Dewhirst was
gonna close probably 9 months before it did. I had to take the jobs of
people I’d worked with for.. 25, 30 years. It’s the only time I’ve
been in the ladies’ toilets. So, knowing that was
difficult because I couldn’t say anything
at the time. But, that’s
what the job was. And when they did
close the factory, it was quite hard to see
your colleagues, you know, become unemployed. ♪ 400 people losing jobs,
it was immense. ♪ At the time, you saw
less people in town. The shops were less
busy because there was no wages coming in. ♪ Some people left the area
because it’s a holiday, farming community. There’s no industries, apart
from Dewhirst at the time, so it was quite daunting
when people were made redundant,
to find work. Cardigan making jeans
was something I’d never think I’d
ever see again. So, when David said he wanted
to start his own jeans company in Cardigan, I thought it was
absolutely brilliant. ♪ Everybody knows, like,
if you lose your job, as a human being,
that has an impact. But like, when a
town loses its major, you know, biggest,
you know, employer, that has an impact too. Not just in terms of economics,
but like, mojo. Like towns have mojos, too. And so, like, you have this
family that is not your family, but it’s your work family. And so, businesses have
a great responsibility. You know, they are little,
mini communities, aren’t they? (machines buzzing) Claudio’s 65. He has no plans to retire,
but there’s a lot of candles on the birthday cake. And so, there’ll come a time
where he’ll want to put his cutting knife down and go
and have an easier life. The important thing is,
for these Grand Masters, is to pass the baton on,
to pass the skillset on. (machine buzzing) ♪ Hey…
Oh! ♪ Are there glasses up there? Finally I’m head of the table. – (laughs)
– Oh, are you? Well, I don’t know
about this family; the future is female. ♪ So, one more exam
to go: physics? Is that the one
you’re a genius in, or…? – (laughs)
– Just checking. I was quite confident
in it, and then like, the revision
session today… I just realized I
didn’t really know much. So, now you’ve got
to do more work. – Maybe that’s the plan.
– Yeah. Remember that time
when you were in school and you said to someone– (laughs) “What catalogue company
does your dad have?” ‘Cause you thought all
dads did the same thing, yeah. (laughs) How old was I when
you sold Howie’s? – When did you sell it?
– 11 years ago. So I was… 7. Myself and Claire ran a previous
business called Howie’s. Yeah, we started it in ’95. ♪ – Do you remember it?
– Yeah. When we were
walking up those stairs, you remember the
sound that it made. Yeah. We’d never really
made a business before. We were two copywriters
working in advertising. And actually, to
be honest, like, we knew shit about
running a business. And, we got ourselves
in trouble because it was growing so fast. And we, we thought
growth was good. Yeah, and we
were there going, “Oh, this is great.
This is great. This is great!” Actually, it was killing us. And so, we had to go and get
a bunch of money because we were growing so fast
because we needed more money to help
with the growth. Suddenly, your independence
gets shattered. And so, we ended
up selling it. Do you regret it?
Would you– No, because
we’re doing Hiut. The worst of times gives
you the best of times, so you have to go
through that– It felt weird, for sure.
Like, I could… I didn’t really know
what was going on, but I could feel that it was,
like, not right. You’ve got to be really
careful as an entrepreneur. Like, you crave this
thing called growth. Like chocolate. We crave more chocolate,
and then, sometimes, we go and binge
on chocolate and we don’t feel so good. And growth can
really help a business, but it also can kill it. It was a hard lesson. But, if we hadn’t done
those things with Howie’s, I don’t know if we would
be good enough to go and do this thing. – A second chance.
– Yeah. I mean, look where we are.
I mean, I’m proud of Howie’s. I was beaten up
after Howie’s. It was bittersweet. I was, like, at a
low point, and… I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to
run around the same track twice. If we were really old,
it’s either we sell it or you take it on. Would you work in
Hiut Denim one day, then? Maybe after I’ve done
something myself. – Yeah.
– Yeah. But I wouldn’t want it to
just die out and someone else have it. I wouldn’t work
there full-time. (laughs) I’d, I’d hire
someone to run it. No, I, I… yeah. – (laughs) Jeans.
– Exactly, yeah. Everything starts
getting really big. (laughs) Now, when people go,
“Oh, we want to give you lots of money, invest in
your company.” I go, “Fuck you.
I don’t want any money. I have the internet.” ♪ The internet, for the maker,
is the Holy Grail. WiFi, you know,
broadband, all those things, they are literally
roads in the sky. And so, the makers now
can travel on those roads because the roads
weren’t there before. We were always locked out. You could only win if you
had the biggest budget. You could only win if
you had the biggest brand. You could only win if you had
more money than everyone else. Now that shit doesn’t apply. It’s like, who can
tell the best story, wins. Who can make
the best product, wins. And so, I spent all my
marketing money on a coffee machine, and it
doesn’t actually matter. Even if it means us saying
no to some good things, I think, you know,
we’ve gotta manage this for the next 10, 20 years,
not for the next 10 months. We want to build
a strong company, and you know,
it takes time to do that. (whirring machines) ♪ We got a call,
breakfast on a Friday, and it was
actually Huw, here… saying, “We just got a call
from Kensington Palace…” And they wanted us to
send some jeans to them. And, the
extraordinary thing is, it was her day off,
and Elin walked in to, like, pick something up.
And we said, “Elin, can you actually
make these jeans for us?” And she made them. We knew signing that NDA,
non-disclosure agreement, meant something interesting
was about to happen because they want you to obviously
honour your word and not tell anybody about it. Claire took ’em up
to the post office. And, in the post
office they said, like, “Oh, there’s no number
on the, on this address,” and they looked at it
and went, “Oh, oh, okay. It’s Kensington Palace.
Doesn’t need a number.” ♪ For a couple weeks we
didn’t hear anything, until the Daily Telegraph,
which is one of our leading newspapers, you know,
phoned us up and said, “Can you confirm Meghan Markle
is wearing your jeans?” And you’re going,
oh, wow, okay. Everyone is talking
about the royal wedding, but today, we are seeing
how Megan Markle’s style is helping a small
clothing company. A tiny Welsh denim company
has been swamped by orders from all around the
world after the princess was captured wearing their
jeans at a public event. The orders went crazy. They kept coming,
and they kept coming, and they kept coming. Suddenly, you have 3 months’
worth of orders, in a night. At first, we thought,
you know, okay, we sold a few
jeans because of it. But, the back-order list
just grew, and grew, and grew. ♪ Okay, alright, so you think
you’re gonna need to go for a smaller size? For a small company,
you dream about that moment where nobody knows you,
and then all of a sudden, you get worldwide attention. It also puts a lot of stress
on the company because factories don’t like spikes. When you’re
running that company, you see the internal stress of
trying to get your customers their orders
as quickly as you can. I think, in this
Amazon Prime world, like, people expect
everything tomorrow. And, and suddenly,
we’re telling people, going, you’re gonna have to wait
3 months for your jeans. No, I think
there’s a, like… There’s a real danger. That’s not the experience that
we truly want to give to people. There is a danger to us. When I look at
40 to 45% growth, I can manage that. When it suddenly
becomes 200, 300% growth, that’s a lot of pressure
on a business. Can we catch up in
the current factory? No. Like, point blank, we just
can’t get enough people in that factory to sit
down with the machines. ♪ And so, you know,
the problem is real. We have to move to
a bigger building. ♪ We don’t really want to get
too big, too fast, because we want to be able
to keep everybody employed. And we learnt
that from Howie’s. For myself and Claire,
it’s not just about, oh, let’s go and
grow a company, let’s sell it, we’ll have
a few million quid. ♪ The purpose of Hiut Denim
is to go and put that engine back into the town
and get its mojo back, and actually give it
a reason to exist, right, not just
as a tourist town. So, there’s a lot of
pressure on us to do things, to think about things –
not just about ourselves – but as the town as well, in order for us to complete
the mission this time. You know, you can only
complete the mission if you stay in business. But, do you know what;
these people are world class at what they do, and suddenly, people are taking
them seriously. Yeah, they’re fucking
good at what they do, and let’s celebrate it. ♪ Too much growth kills you. No growth also kills you. This is the old factory, which is gonna be
our new factory. ♪ So the Grand Masters are
literally coming back to where they used to sew. For Claudio and Elin,
they feel energized by it. This is unfinished business. Even though there are risks
of growing perhaps maybe a little bit faster than
we’d like right now, but you know you have
to be brave as well. And so, we have
to move forward. So, let’s move and
let’s move quick. ♪ To manage all this
process is Andrew’s job. There’s a huge
amount of complexity, but Andrew’s the military
precision that brings all that stuff together. ♪ Yeah, so I’ve got the
plan for the machines. So, basically, from…
From here… Down that line –
that’s the service line. You know, that’s the
double suppressing and the service lines are
on there, yeah? And then that line, there, is one team’s worth of
machines, yeah? So, it’s gonna be
set up like that. And then,
that one over there, mirrors exactly the same. So where this tracking
all finishes here, that’s where
those machines start. Originally we had stuff
moving in this period. – Yeah?
– Yeah. However, I was looking at
seeing whether we can move some stuff here, which I think we’re tight to try
and move that next week. – Yeah.
– Yeah. So what happens then,
if we get late? At the moment, the team
makes 180 pairs in a week. The issue that
we’ve got is that, one team won’t finish.
That work is gonna get dropped into that week,
which, effectively, for those two weeks,
we’re only making 180, so 180 short, so we’re losing a
week’s worth of production. That’s a big chunk of… It’s a big chunk, so it
affects us financially. Turnover-wise, it’s losing 15,
20 K’s worth of stock. – Okay. (sighs)
– And over here– How much time do you physically
need to move production? I think it’s a 2 to
3-day process, and then– – To move machines, work?
– Yeah. We could do it in a day, if we wanted to do it in
one big long day. There’s nothing stopping us
doing that, is there? Moving in, in a day? We can do, so we could,
we could do production… Right up to Thursday. And finish on
Thursday night, and then move on
the Friday/Saturday. I think we’ll start
moving some machines… We can move some lighter
machines out on the Thursday. That means that we’d gain
that week and a half. And in theory,
you won’t lose production. Theory. ♪ (saws whirring & buzzing) ♪ ♪ – It looks really good.
– I know. – It looks so different!
– I know. (laughs) Oh my god. – Looks good, doesn’t it?
– It’s amazing. – (laughs) Proud?
– Yeah. – Yeah?
– It’s huge. – I know.
– I know. (laughs) That’s what I was thinking.
Oh my god, we’re gonna have to fill it. Will you take a photo of me and
dad in front of that poster? – Yeah.
– Thank you. Look, look here.
Look here. Feels sort of
grown up, doesn’t it? Yeah. Gotta go and take on some
of the best brands in the world, you go, okay,
let’s do it from here. Dear internet… We make jeans. (laughs) ♪ Can we maintain the spirit and the soul of the
company as we grow? I think that’s such
a great question. That is a question that
all entrepreneurs should be asking
themselves, you know, does scaling this business
mean that we lose the soul? I don’t know… if it
has to be that way. I think it can be
the opposite of that. One come flying off
around the corner. (laughs) Go around the roundabout. Ah, you’ve got
something to tie it on. (Indistinct speaking) (laughs) Me and Claire,
we have a life together, we have a family together, we run businesses
together, and… I mean, sometimes you
don’t exchange words. You just exchange a view,
and like, a glance, and… That can say everything
that you want to say. ♪ The mission is to go and get
all those jobs back in Cardigan. This time, we’re gonna
complete the mission. ♪ – Is it right?
– Yeah, right, that’s right. (machine whirring) (banging) ♪ (laughs) ♪ (indistinct speaking) ♪ When you put your
name to something, it’s ’cause of pride. ♪ (laughs) (applause) What was it like to
see the first pair… made in the big new factory? Um, like, life is a
series of defining moments, and, and that moment was the
start of the next journey. (laughs) I think we have to just stick to doing one thing remarkably well. We’re gonna be absolutely fine
because those Grand Masters, they make one of
the best jeans in the world. ♪ All we have to do
is tell that story. ♪

32 thoughts on “The Denim Company Who Makes Meghan Markle’s Jeans

  1. Amazing documentary. Please make more videos like this. Seeing small companies and its stories is one interesting niche. Even a 3 minute video would do 🙂

  2. I can't describe how inspirational I found this video. It appeals to ever part of my soul and being. I'm so jealous that people are able to work at a company like Huit, where quality is at the centre of everything. Added to this I went to Cardigan last year for a family holiday and loved it. Being a HUGE Howies fan only add to my excitement. You guys need a IT solutions architect?????

  3. Da iawn. We need an army of people who have this kind of belief and vision to tap into the pool of talent. I always say that we have the same DNA that built the Rolls Royce Merlin and if we can get the same mojo back we can do much more. We will be placing and order!

  4. What a wonderful story, what a wonderful attitude, what a wonderful way to live life!!! I am an artist, a one woman production line that makes handcrafted steampunk jewelry. I’m not trying to get bigger, I just want to sell the pieces that I make with the love in my heart and my own two hands. I love your story and your Grand Masters, you inspire me!!⚜️ Look up VintageMo by Maurice on Etsy ⚜️

  5. What a great true story! You show us how everything falls into place when you are doing the Right thing….

  6. Very inspiring story and so great to see a small town coming back to life. Little parts I liked, such as the fact that he parks his Land Rover in the same area as all his employees~ testament to how he appreciates his biggest asset.

  7. This is incredible. I love Hiut! Fucking hell this Company is the embodiment of what i stand for: quality over quantity. In life what is yours will be yours! Cus the universe/life conspires with you so beautifully when you have ur shit together. When u pay attention and you are learning from ur experiences. So so so proud of you all.

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