Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Handmade & Honest - Hepville Custom Clothing

One of the most enjoyable things about the denim industry is that the folks involved tend to be genuinely passionate about it – none more so than one man brands such as Germany’s Hepville Custom Clothing.

A Hep Man’s Passion 

Founded by Bela Ujhazy, a love of beautiful early 20th century work-wear, combined with frustration of what was available on the mass market, led him to give up his successful career as a chef to re-train as a bespoke tailor. No an easy task when you’re in your 30’s and with limited opportunities for apprenticeships.

But Bela did it – and now turns out fantastically well made custom garments from his home near Bremen.
Bela has had a passion for 1940’s & 50’s clothing and music since he was a kid, so it seemed like a natural choice for him.

Hepville Custom Clothing
Bela hard at work. (pic by Hepville)
Bela puts it simply, “My inspiration is tailored clothing I would like to wear myself - building a wardrobe around your jeans is my main concept I guess. As I´m a trained tailor I can do the whole range of stuff besides jeans - jackets, shirts, coats, caps, bow ties, neck ties..”

And he can do it with the fabric and custom detailing of your choice, the garment handmade from design to pattern drafting, cutting, tailoring and sewing.


Bela works with each customer to ensure a perfect fit. If you can’t make it to his workshop he’ll give you detailed instructions on taking correct measurements. After the first fitting he then tweaks a garment so it’s absolutely right for the customer.

The process is quite labour intensive and Bela can work up to 15 hours on one pair of dungarees.

“I have no special machines e.g for felled seems, folding over edges or other construction details... I do this by hand using my skills and tailoring techniques. My garments are all made with single-needle-construction… I´m a big fan of cleanly finished stuff.”

Hepville Custom Clothing

Hepville Custom Clothing

In fact the detailing on the dungarees is superb – I love the decorative stitching on the front pockets, a forerunner of the back pocket arcuate. It doesn’t stop there – the piping on the hickory pocket bag seams is beautifully done. Each belt loop has a selvedge end, as does the fly.

In terms of fit, the dungarees are broadly similar to a 1933 501 – a wide legged jean with a decent rise, sporting both suspender buttons and belt loops.

The selvedge detailing on the waistcoat pockets may be slightly over-doing it for my taste, but it’s a minor quibble and just my personal preference. I feel that the sheer quality of the workmanship should speak for itself.

Hepville Custom Clothing

Bela collects vintage haberdashery – some of which makes it’s way on to the clothes he makes. The Bakers Boy caps is beautiful – made from a selection of chambrays, denim or tweed, aside from material you can specify things such as a leather headband or whether you’d like a cinch etc – complete with vintage buckle.

Until I’d tried on one of Hepville’s denim Engineer caps I’d never considered wearing one before. The silhouette is spot on – obviously Bela has spent a lot of time doing his pattern research. He suggests you have to size up by a centimetre to allow for shrinkage after the soak. Quite right - any new cap needs one so it can be moulded to the shape of your head properly.

Hepville Custom Clothing

Fabrics & Fair Trade

You can select what weight & type of fabric you’d like – for selvedge Bela uses either Japanese or American denim – he’s the first to admit though that, as small craftsman, you’re limited as to what material you can order by the excessive yardage most mills require.

For the tweeds and other fabrics he tries to source from German or other European countries. “I just choose fabrics I like. I can´t offer something to customers I´m not convinced of myself.”

As Bela makes clear, “fair trade is an important thing to me: sourcing from first world countries, with better wages and better social environments. As I'm a small player on the market, I don't invest millions in advertising etc. You just get my items directly, without retailers who want to make some money too, so I can offer my items to reasonable prices.”

Handmade & Honest

It may be a small business, but the quality of what Hepville produces is self evident – something that the larger players often lose sight of.
We discussed how Bela sees his business growing over the next few years, and for guys like him the answer would seem to be in collaboration with shops and larger labels, something that he hopes will come to fruition soon.

Bela is working on several exciting new projects, not the least of which are a duck cotton waistcoat and pea-coat that he’s currently tweaking the pattern for – so we can look forward to Hepville’s range expanding in the near future.

Hepville Custom Clothing

One of Bela’s main motivations is simply to grow consumer awareness of bespoke tailoring, as he says, “almost all early work wear would have come from a tailor’s shop or have been made in someone’s home.”

Hepville Custom Clothing is very much in this tradition, simply producing beautiful garments that are handmade and honest.

You can check out Hepville Custom Clothing here.

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