The Story And Philosophy of Tellason

In full disclosure, I have a lot of respect for Tellason and its products. When I had the chance to meet with Tony Patella, co-founder of the company, during my last trip to San Francisco, I wanted to get a better idea of what motivated him when it came to the world of raw denim.

What I learnt about was an interesting philosophy that propelled the company from its founding in 2008 to its position as one of raw denim’s respected brands only a few years later.

The Philosophy

In general, Patella’s philosophy is that jeans should tell a story, both in their construction and in their wear. As he bent down to give his dog a sip of water from his espresso cup, Tony says, “If you care about your product, you have to be close to where it’s produced.” As a result, the company sources its components from domestic producers, and it produces its wares a few short miles from its company offices.

The story of Tellason comes across in the quality of construction and uniqueness of ingredients. Tony selectively partners with suppliers and retailers who share the Tellason philosophy on quality.

The History and Details

Tellason was founded by Tony Patella and Pete Searson in 2008, and the company released its first products in 2009. Some of the early jeans were made of Japanese Kurabo selvage denim, but Patella and Searson eventually decided to source exclusively from Cone Denim’s White Oak Plant in Greensboro, N.C., due to its superior sanforization quality.

While Tellason has always used sanforized denim, Tony found that the denim from Kurabo Mills still shrank approximately 1/2 inch more than Cone’s sanforized denim.


Today, Tellason’s selvedge denims are exclusive to the company and are produced by Cone Denim Mills. The company started in 2009 with a 12.5 oz, blue-line selvedge, which was high on sulfur and faded to a green/grey. By 2011, the company developed its second fabric, a 14.75 oz red-line selvedge.

The new fabric was made with a 40% indigo dye, giving it a rich blue color and higher-contrast fading. The most recent addition, in 2012, was a 16.5 oz orange-line selvedge that features a 22.4% indigo dye with lower sulfur, resulting in another high-contrast fading fabric.


Orange Selvedge

From the beginning, the company sourced its rivets, leather patches, threads and pocket canvas from American factories. They also made the decision to manufacture the jeans at a decades-old clothing factory in San Francisco. Also unchanged since the beginning are some of the construction details:

  • The Hidden Tab: This is one of the less-known signature details. On a pair of Levi’s, the red tab is on the edge of the back right pocket, but it’s a trademark and can’t be copied legally by any other denim manufacturer. Tellason puts a red tab on the inside of the back pocket, and the text reads “legal.” The tab pay homage to the Levi’s tradition, but still follows the letter of the law.
  • The Back Pockets: The back pockets are half-lined with white canvas. The stitching on the back pockets are in blue thread and form a T.
  • Blue Chain-Stitch: The hem is chain-stitched to look yellow from the outside, but blue from the inside. It is more subtle than the typical all-yellow chainstitch used on most jeans.
  • Reverse Yoke Construction: The yoke on a pair of jeans is the triangular cuts of fabric between the waist and the rear pockets. In most cases, denim companies stitch the yoke underneath the main piece of fabric that runs down the back of the leg. Tellason takes a different approach by stitching the yoke on top of the other piece of fabric, which means that friction from jackets and backpacks will not cause the jean to fall apart as easily as would happen with traditional construction techniques.

Matthew Neidich

Matt is the founder of Wefty + Mash, a blog focused on the appreciation of high-quality, small-scale production of men's clothing and other items. As a proponent of the Slow Fashion, Matt believes that most of the best results come with patience. He lives in Portland, Ore., where he enjoys cooking, walking, camping and biking.

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  • Devan Prithipaul

    this is just boring USA denim. yes with all that “quality and craftsmanship stuff” but there isnt a picture of a fit. thats too bad.

    • sjsn

      you’re daft

    • jjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

      they have several “fits”.

    • Kretek

      Prices may be slightly steep, Devan, but that’s no excuse to call them boring. They have a larger selection than many existing companies. The picture that they posted here does show them as a “boring” company but I like their slim tapered grey, for one.

      But seriously, 220 is a little pricey.

      • jjjjjjj

        just because the denim is sourced from the same mill doesnt make them the same jeans. cone mills does exclusive denim for tellason. plus ive seen these in person at woodlands and theyre a nice pair. gustin seems ok from what ive seen online, but just an average lower end type of selvedge jean, imo

        • Kretek

          It makes them the same type of denim. The description matches the denim described in Gustin’s Kickstarter page. When I get my Gustin jeans, I’ll let you know. I just couldn’t justify American selvedge for the same price as Japanese selvedge.

          • Matthew Neidich

            So you’re saying that all Kurabo Mills denim is the same? Or all Kaihara denim? This is clearly not the case; each denim has a unique character, and Tellason’s denims are exclusive to Tellason. I don’t think anyone would dare call a pair of Roy Jeans boring, and they are made of exclusive White Oak, too. There are some amazing denims coming out of White Oak, and while they are traditional, the quality is at least on par with Japanese denims of similar quality. Also, Gustin has Japanese denim, too (at sub-$100 price tags).

          • jjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

            right. and lots of cheap and cheaper jeans use “japanese denim”- unbranded, n&f, gap, converse(?), apc. cool write up, btw. was just checking your tellasons post paint spills. hope you keep those around for atleast work and stuff..

          • Matthew Neidich

            I wear those paint-stained ones a good bit and just re-patched the crotch on them. They are, by far, my most comfortable jeans and I plan to wear them until there’s nothing left to wear. Thanks for checking it out.

          • Kretek

            I’m saying the price point can’t possibly be the same for all jeans. They can’t possibly cost the same to produce. While I support up and coming companies, I can’t see how every pair of jeans could cost the same. I don’t find their lines boring. I do like White Oak’s sanforizing, though I’m not sure if I can compare their denim to Japanese denim.

          • roybo

            Roy denim..goshhh

            Dunno where to start..stupid concept..really stupid. Nowdays.
            Everybody can male their own jeans…

          • Devan Prithipaul

            i second that.

      • Devan Prithipaul

        hmm thats true. but if there is an article on a whole company, they should provide more than one model of jeans. my apologies. it’s true that they have quite a range of selection.

        • Scott Neidich

          There are more cuts. If you click the link in the Author’s Profile to his side-blog, you can see quite a few, including fit pics and fade photos.

      • Scott Neidich

        I love Gustin’s denim, after writing a review I even ordered a pair myself. That having been said, Tellason works on a different business model with a very different product, and many different cuts. Gustin offers a single cut, and for their kickstarter, a 2-3 month delay before receiving.

        Apples and oranges.

        • Kretek

          That’s very fair. After further review, Tellason does offer a very unique line with very quality clothing. As far as Gustin goes, I wish they had made more of THE ITALIAN. Was going to be my favorite jean but as soon as I hit the Kickstarter page the day they were released, they were sold out. Maybe once they get established and launch their actual site, it will be a different story.

      • SF jeans

        Gustin and telleson both use Sky blue manufacturing in San Francisco to sew their garments.

  • jjjjjjj

    ive always given tellason props but never really considered a pair until recently. but whats with the recent price hike on these? whats the stretch like? i hear they stretch pretty crazy..

    • rrrrrrrrr

      i don’t get any issue with the price hike as i buy locally. the stretch is alright, its not too bad, but if you can, downsize 1. loving the pair of ladbroke groves i have

      • r9

        the ladbrokes are insanely nice to wear for day to day activities. managed to get one of their limited run collaborations with wanderwonder

    • Scott Neidich

      It’s pretty typical for a company to take a small price hike once a year, although 10% seems pretty steep ($198->$220)

      • Matthew Neidich

        As far back as I can remember, Tellason was priced at $198. I may be mistaken, but this is the first price increase since they started selling jeans in 2009. Also keep in mind that cotton commodity pricing went up almost 5-fold from 2009 to 2011, and while it’s back down now, the supply chain is likely taking price hikes to account for the historic pricing volatility that it had to eat over the last few years. Global warming sucks, and crop failures are going to impact the price of quality garments. People gotta make a living.

    • JJMD

      Tellason advises sizing down by one if you want them to stretch into a tailored fit. Otherwise, order your normal waist size.

  • Devante

    Do these jeans conform to the mans body?

    • Matthew Neidich

      The jeans are cut for men; they have several cuts, some of which are more tailored and others are looser.

  • Matthew Neidich

    A couple of additional items about the denim; the blue threads used in the chainstitch and to form the “T” on the pocket are indigo-dyed and will fade with the jean. While I mentioned that the reverse yoke has been more durable, this was my observation after becoming familiar with the product. Tony from Tellason tells me that the reason the decision was made was about the way they wanted the cuts to fit. Also a quick correction: while I called out the jeans as being union-made, they are made in a non-union shop, and the 16.5 oz denim is 24% indigo, not 22.4%. My apologies for any confusion.

  • Brandon

    It’s great that Tellason has branched out into shirting and jackets in addition to their jeans. I also like the recent releases of heavier weight denim. The only thing that I don’t like about Tellason’s jeans is the particular shade of yellow contrast stitching they use, it doesn’t sit well with me and is the only thing that’s prevented me from buying a pair. I know, ridiculous to some, but the details are important to me. I would still recommend these to anyone and they have enough fits to please every body type.

  • Rob Diaz

    I think the cost of these is justified because Tellason developed their own denim, Gustin is probably using stock cone denim. Also I would like to know why Cone Denim is not as good as Japanese Denim? Sounds like most of you are just fan-boys and are afraid that something made in the good ol US of A just might give some Japanese mills a run for their money. I will continue to support Tellason because they make a damn good jean right here in the States.

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  • tim

    presume not the UK one? Is there a web link to order online??

  • Petesearson

    We have no plans and have never sold to Urban Outfitter.

  • Petesearson

    We have no plans and have never sold to Urban Outfitter.

  • j

    Rawr’s comment section is messed up, I believe this comment was meant for (and did get sent to) the previous article about the Unbranded shirts.