Loren Cronk and his United States of Denim
Greenpoint/Williamsburg is, without question, home to some of the most fashionable people in New York City. With scores of vintage clothing shops and high-end boutiques it isn’t difficult to dress well in North Brooklyn. But still, as everyone knows, finding the right pair of jeans can be an exhausting feat, which is why the Garden Spot is lucky to have Greenpoint-based denim designer Loren Cronk and his eponymous workshop-slash-storefront right here on Nassau Avenue.
Cronk’s brand new shop opened its doors to the public at the beginning of the month and offers patrons a vast variety of denim digs ranging from blue jeans to collared shirts to bags, shoes, bowties and even guitar straps—all made of denim, a material about which Cronk is passionate, and has been working with for nearly two decades as a consultant and designer.
“I create washes on fabric,” Cronk explained. “I can take something raw, bleach it down and make something new. But I don’t consider myself a fashion designer. It’s more like industrial design to me.”
Whatever you want to call it, when it comes to jeans Cronk is an expert. But not only does he know jeans: He knows business, too. Cronk first learned to sew as a teenager living in Mesa, Arizona, where he used his mother’s sewing machine to tailor his own clothes. When Cronk, an avid snowboarder, went off to college in Utah he began designing and sewing his own snowboarding pants out of nylon and cordura, which eventually became popular among friends and fellow snowboarders. He took the idea and branded it, calling his line of snowboard pants Bilt USA. Though the line was briefly successful, as the snowboarding industry exploded in the mainstream small independent or entrepreneurial designers were eclipsed by major label brands and Bilt USA folded after four years. However, Cronk took the craftsmanship and skill he had begun to hone and threw his focus onto his next line, Civic Movement, which presented an opportunity to design different types of garments including t-shirts, hats and accessories. After Civic Movement folded—it too was short-lived—Cronk landed a job at Levi and Strauss, where his love of denim was born.
In the years prior to finally opening his own store—something that had been on Cronk’s mind long before he took the plunge to find a retail space—he spent his time designing for brands like Ralph Loren and Levi’s, which is where Cronk cooked up his first line of blue jeans: Beta Project. Since his first denim attempt—the funding for Beta Projects dried up shortly after its launch—Cronk has created a number of successful jean lines for both men and women, three of which are available at his store. Despite the volatility of the economy and the toll it takes on entrepreneurial clothing designers, Cronk decided to move his primary design and tailoring operations from his studio in Manhattan to a little shop on Nassau Avenue, formerly a derelict building, and open his own store—a place to house his brands, and explore the possibilities of denim.
“This is the coolest building—it’s like a hundred-and-something years old? And these bricks? It’s so cool,” Cronk said of his new retail space, conveniently located just a block from his house. “I’ve really watched the neighborhood change, it’s interesting to see. This is the main vein into Greenpoint so I’ve enjoyed seeing this intersection and area take off. I’m so lucky to have this space, and this cool building. I call it the Meatpacking District of Brooklyn.”
But just because there are more jeans available the neighborhood doesn’t necessarily make it easier to find a good fit. Fortunately, Cronk has a dynamic collection of styles ideal for those who don’t fit the prototype—and all at extremely reasonable prices. And, in true Greenpoint fashion, Cronk is working collaboratively with several New York-based companies like Heavy Leather NYC (denim guitar straps), J. Cravata (denim bowties) and Keller (denim shoes) to create custom denim wear.
“I like fitting models with more shape—I’ve always liked shape,” Cronk said. “This store really is denim-only for now, and I want to fill it with beautiful denim things.”
Loren is located at 82 Nassau Avenue. Cronk’s own jean lines Soldier & Brave, Blksmith and Melody are available, as well as custom jeans. The store is open Friday-Sunday.