Making Slow Fashion Grow – Interview with Raleigh Denim Workshop co-founder Victor Lytvinenko

Victor and his wife Sarah are in love with making jeans the old, slow way in their Raleigh Denim Workshop. They sewed them themselves and proudly signed every pair when they started out in 2007.  But in the meantime, they employ some two dozen people and ‘getting to use the signing Shapie’ has become a rite of passage, of sorts, to becoming one of them – a true ‘jeans-smith’.  And that’s just one of the intriguing stories and quirky details Victor shares in our interview (click the play button below).  You can hear the love in his voice for his partner Sarah, for vintage sewing machines and for the ‘good old’ time when making things required some physical skill, happened in a workshop somewhere close and yielded objects with ‘soul’ – a quality beyond what can easily be described, seen or felt.

A signed pair.

A steadily increasing number of customers and retailers seem to share their love for ‘slow fashion’ and feel that it is special.  So special that some make it a point to stop over at their store and workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina or make a special ‘pilgrimage’ to pick up a few pairs which go for around $200-400 a piece.  The industry has also taken note:  Sarah and Victor were into the coveted CFDA, the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

In the interview, you will also hear Victor tell us …

  • where, he thinks, this appeal for hand crafted jeans comes from
  • who works for them and who buys their jeans
  • why retailers love to sell Raleigh Denim Workshop products and how
  • what role e-commerce plays compared to brick & mortar

… and how they look at growth and the future – among other things.  What do you think? Is the RDM ‘Ueber-Brand’ material?

Take a listen (CLICK THE PLAY BUTTON) and a look (more pictures and resources below) and let us know you think (like, comment, ask questions).

Raleigh Denim Workshop, owner, jean and shop (photos by Ernesto Sue Photography)


For more insights what drives the success of modern Prestige brands – Ueber-Brands as we call the best of them – read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and other case-studies on this blog.   And if you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at

Here is a link to the Raleigh Denim Workshop website and store.  And here some Yelp reviews of the brand and store – passionate … but not always.
It shows how difficult but critical ‘living you mission and dream as a brand’ is or ‘the bubble might burst,’ as we write in our book.  Creating and living your brand ‘truth’ faithfully is not easy and separates the good from the best.
An interesting ‘sub-myth’ is that of the ‘last denim patternmaker’ Chris Ellsberg who “works for us but is really our mentor” as Victor says.  They know their storytelling!

Here is a video that tells the RDW story and shows Victor’s love for these old machines…

You can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, TuneIn, etc. or on our blog to receive new post notifications. 

Victor, Sarah and pattern making mentor Chris Ellsberg

About JP Kuehlwein

JP Kuehlwein is a global business leader and brand builder with a 25+ year track record of translating consumer and brand insights into transformational propositions that win in market. Principal at ‘Ueber-Brands’ a New York consulting firm, he now helps others to elevate brands and make them peerless and priceless. JP also teaches brand strategy at NYU Stern and Columbia Business School and leads the Marketing Institute at The Conference Board, all in New York. Jp previously was Executive Vice President at Frédéric Fekkai & Co, a prestige salon operator and hair care brand and lead brand- and corporate strategy development and execution at multinational Procter & Gamble as Brand Director and Director of Strategy. JP and Wolf Schaefer have co-authored the best-selling books “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands” which lays out what drives the success of modern premium brands and "Brand Elevation - Lessons in Ueber-Branding" a guide to developing and executing a brand elevation strategy. Find the books here:
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