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How A San Diego Denim Company Goes International While Keeping It Local

A selection of denim at Rufskin's boutique in San Diego's North Park neighborhood, Sept. 8, 2016.
KPBS Staff
A selection of denim at Rufskin's boutique in San Diego's North Park neighborhood, Sept. 8, 2016.
How A San Diego Denim Company Goes International While Keeping It Local

The California Legislature last week designated denim as the state's official fabric.

The Assembly approved AB501, an apparent nod to the 501 jeans that have been manufactured for more than a century by the San Francisco company Levi Strauss. But nowadays, it's not the only one keeping jeans popular in California.

Take, for instance, Rufskin, a San Diego-based company that specializes in jeans. Rufskin has a boutique in San Diego's North Park neighborhood that serves as the storefront for the internationally recognized brand.

Douglas Coats, the company's co-founder and president, said the internet makes it possible to keep the men's denim line in San Diego.

"We're manufacturing all of our collections in San Diego," Coats said. "We always have since day one. The fact that we can be in a cool city like San Diego in the great state of California and do our own thing is amazing. We don't need to be in the rat race of New York or in Los Angeles."

Coats thinks making denim the state's official fabric makes perfect sense.

"I think the California lifestyle is laid-back," he said. "It represents so much to the rest of the world, about how we live. We live so comfortable and denim is definitely and integral part of that for sure."

Hubert Pierre Pouches, another co-founder of Rufskin, agrees.

"California for me, being French, has always had, like, this coolness about it," he said. "I mean, even talking about the jeans, like in the 50s — James Dean, Marlon Brando — was like Levi's and the rebel image."

Rufskin has branched off from jeans to fitness apparel, and Italian Vogue recently featured its swimwear.

Still, as Rufskin continues to gain international accolades, Coats and Pouches said the brand's design, image and attitude remains cool, relaxed California.

Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign AB501 into law.

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