Designer Jean Interviews

DenimBlog Exclusive: Interview with Gerry Kelly of Sonas Denim

Sonas Denim is a new brand that is just breaking into the market from San Francisco. It was founded by Gerry Kelly and has a very unique take on jeans! Instead of the regular 2 pieces of denim sewn together, Sonas jeans are made from individual square pieces of denim, creating a patchwork effect.

Janice Dickinson is a big fan of the brand and even did a shoot with them a little while ago, which you can see in the gallery below. I thought it would be good to catch up with Gerry to find out more about this unique brand. Please carry on reading for the interview and photos of the jeans. What do you think of Sonas?

DB: Hi Jerry! So, tell us a bit about your denim brand, Sonas Denim?

GK: Well DB, it’s a unique, free spirited couture jean with underlying philanthropic goals. Sonas means “Happiness, good times, felicity and bliss” in Gaelic. Our brand is about positivity, empowerment, individuality and new beginnings. We want to start a trend of giving in the fashion industry and about compassion in fashion.

DB: What inspired you to create it?

GK: I was looking for jeans to wear for the Burning Man Arts Festival which did not exist, so I made them myself. Everybody at Burning Man loved them, wanted them and encouraged me to go for it!

DB: The jeans are made from individual squares of fabric, creating a patchwork look, what made you want to design jeans this way?

GK: Four reasons: 1) I loved the different colors of denim all joining to create one whole jean, 2) I loved the seams on the outside when they would naturally fray and dangle off the jean…it looked so cool 3) I originally made the jeans from reclaimed denim so sometimes all you could get was one square of one pattern or color and 4) the individual patches seemed to contribute to the great fit of the jean (there was no longer stress in just one part of the jean and the weight of pressure was spread out among many patches).

DB: Do you have a history with denim?

GK: My mom says that when I was 9 I asked to bleach my jeans in the bathtub because I didn’t like the color as it was. I guess I always had a knack for fashion and liked to look “smart.” Prior to making my own jeans, I admired and wore Diesel and G-Star.

DB: What kind of person do you see wearing your brand?

GK: So far, I have seen mainly three segments of the population wearing my brand. #1 is the trendsetter, executive, independent, intelligent, self-made, man or woman with money and an eye for fashion. #2 is the artistic, philanthropic, support-your-local-brand, farmers market shopper. #3 the computer guy whose girlfriend loves our jeans and he tried them on and loves the way he looks…elevating him into the I-have-taste culture.

There is something for everyone. If our seams are too edgy, we have the french seams (seams on the inside) which have been very popular as our “gateway” product which is more “conservative.” These would be the North Beach Slim for example. For the more free spirited we have the Berkeley Flares! Everybody can wear the jeans because they can be dressed up or dressed down. They truly make the outfit.

DB: Other than the patchwork look, what sets Sonas apart from other denim brands?

GK: A few things. Fit is #1. People are amazed that they are the best fitting jeans they have ever tried on. I think that because there is so much more to the jean going on, the amazing fit is a huge surprise for most people. #2 Sonas has made a commitment to never use animal products in its entire clothing collection (and although now it’s only limited to refraining from the use of leather in jeans, it will extend to our sweaters and accessories when we begin to develop these lines).

Also, Sonas, like a small handful of companies out there already, we are dedicated to give 10% of net profits to animal welfare groups from our profits. Furthermore, we don’t waste anything. All of our trimmings are used elsewhere, such as greeting cards. And lastly, we have a goal of one day creating an animal sanctuary off Hwy 1 in Northern California with the profits from Sonas.

DB: What kind of cuts can we expect for women?

GK: Right now we are offering Flare, Skinny and Ultra Skinny for women in high rise, mid-rise and regular rise. But to be honest, we already have the patterns for many more. We just can’t produce them all right now in high quantity because we don’t have the funding. The hip hugger was hugely successful and rested on the hips, as you could imagine.

DB: How do you make sure they are slimming and flattering when they have seams all over?

GK: Do I need to give all my secrets away!? I’ll just say that it’s all about placement of the more vertical patchwork. They take the eyes away from the thighs and give women more lenth.

DB: Where do you see Sonas in a few seasons from now?

GK: I see Sonas becoming known for it’s fit and perhaps people wearing them despite the patches!!! Just because they fit so good =) (laugh), I see us making more than just our patched jeans. I see more t-shirts and hoodies and wallets and belts. People really like how we have stylized our jeans and numerous people have already asked to purchase entire outfits from us that we have the lifestyle models dressed in.

DB: How many jeans do you actually own? As a fun fact!

GK: Wow…Jeez! There are jeans I own and jeans I wear. So when I started making my own jeans, I never wore another brand of jeans again except for Sonas, my own brand. So I have a few of my party pants, the multicolor. My wife loves me in those jeans. They are her favorite! I even got married in them. I have the indigo..about 3 of those…boot cut and flare. One white pair, two black french seam (North Beach Slims), one washed flare (those look amazing with deck shoes!), one red pair….I know I am forgetting some!

DB: Let us know anything else you want to!

GK: Check out our website to see some of our collections and also we have quite a cool story behind our brand. I really want people to know what our brand is all about as things are just getting started =)

Written by Lorna Burford