A denim company with influence.
Story of a town.
Once home to Britain’s biggest jeans factory, a small seaside town on the Welsh coast produced 35,000 pairs of meticulously sewn denim jeans every week. Until they fell victim to cheap overseas labour.
Cardigan has always been full of world class makers. 400 to be precise. And now these world class makers suddenly had nothing to make.
David’s mission is to get these people their jobs back.
Business of making the best jeans.
Hiut is (pretty much) the only brand in Britain making its own jeans in its own factory.
With over 30 years worth of knowledge and experience, combined with the best denim fabric in the world, they make jeans better than anyone else.
Whilst their competition may be in the business of making jeans the fastest. Hiut is in the business of making the best.
Do One Thing Well.
Hiut is an ambitious company in the simplest of ways. In a world where anyone can stick a label on a t-shirt, Hiut pride themselves on ‘sticking to their lane’, with the value driven from producing the one thing they know to make best.
And the one thing this small Welsh town knows how to do better than any other, is how to make jeans.
What separates Hiut from every other denim company, is the skill level from each Grandmaster, carefully sustained through years and years of meticulous making, and a love for a beautiful craft.
To be so good at something that you are better than anyone else on the planet? That is incredibly ambitious.
Like the best, David and his team are still learning how to get better…
After all, that is what they’re best at, specialists of their craft, trying to be the best in the world.
The problem with Patagonia, is that there just aren't enough of them.
A core value and focus for David and his team is how to be as low impactful as possible. A belief that we all have a responsibility to act sustainably is intertwined through every stitch of denim.
“We have to admit we are part of the problem. Therefore we can be part of the solution. Be a good citizen of the planet. Do the decent thing. Be a good human being.”
Through Hiut, David hopes to encourage others to start their own company in such a way that it becomes an example to others - by being small, but influential.
Jeans is one of the largest polluters on the planet, and instead of hiding this fact, Hiut wants their brand to instigate others to find a better, lower impact way of making jeans.
One of the most influential denim brands in the world?
Hiut is a brand striving to learn as much as possible in order to achieve their goal. To be one of the most influential denim brands in the world.
By doing something interesting. And through amazing communication, they can become a brand with influence.
The result? A business which can achieve whatever target they choose.
Hiut may be one of the smallest denim companies, but David refuses to believe they cannot be the most influential.
He currently supplies jeans to the likes of René Redzepi and the Arctic Monkeys.
Covid 19 - A sense of community is important.
David prides himself on having an inclusive, family atmosphere amongst the Hiut team.
Going to work is where your ‘work family’ are, and having to communicate virtually during the pandemic was tough. People need to be around other people - even introverts who work in a shed like David!
The most profound thing David has learnt during the pandemic is that all those interpersonal things (like banter and small talk), which we don’t really think matter…
When you sell something for money, you suddenly realise the money is not that important to you.
David’s former clothing business Howies, which he sold before starting Hiut remains his biggest regret.
The successful clothing brand was no longer about the money, but a journey which ultimately got cut short. Half the people in the business were robbed of an opportunity to see how far they could be pushed and how good they could be.
Hiut is full of these types of people. Those who already have the hunger.
When you see people fly…that is the best bit of the business.
David is not a ‘normal boss’, in fact he hates the very word.
But more of a coach figure.
He believes in ultimately giving people the belief and confidence to succeed. That they can do it.
“We have amazing people, and we’re trying to help them do the best work they have ever done”.
Kicked out of college. Sixteen and bankrupt.
David’s successful career began after finding a book which had fallen behind a shelf.
For a man who had no qualifications, couldn’t really write, and thought a colon was a disease, this book Ogilvy on Advertising gave him the spark to chase a career in a creative agency.
Eighteen months later, David landed his first job with Saatchi & Saatchi. Albeit not without some creative hustle.
As the story goes:
David rewrote the agency's own newspaper ad.
Swapped the original with his own (on the desk of the creative director).
Then phoned them up later that morning.
He got the job.
Read ten books next year, not twenty.
One of David’s challenges to himself this year is to learn how to really read a book.
Instead of reading more and more books, try to read the seminal books and truly understand them.
Deep reading vs Shallow reading.
By adopting a technique called Progressive Summarisation, one should read a book as much as three times and then start making notes on it. This way, you may read what is genuinely important to you and truly understand the meaning.
“For sustainability? Definitely go and read Yvon Chouinard’s let my people go surfing”.
"We exist to defend the future of our waves - because if we don’t do it, nobody will" patagonia.com
We need sustainable brands to be successful businesses.
David is a self-proclaimed crazy nutty boss, who doesn’t even accept the title.
He is apparently clueless in Cardigan and can’t even manage his time (was both early and late for this interview!)
He knows a thing or two about business, and people.
David has a brand which runs on the values and success of its amazing people.
Good ethics, good values and a great product.
Huit is on a journey to become the most influential and sustainable denim brand in the world, and will continue challenging themselves to do the best, most sustainable work they have ever done.
In a year which will revitalise staycation breaks and coastal holidays, why not drive West to Cardigan and visit the Hiut Factory to buy a pair for yourself.
They last so long you won’t have to make the journey again.
But, you’ll want to.