CHUTE9 Australian born Jeans at work
Claudia Fox knows the importance of having durable and quality work wear. Having spent several years in working roles on cattle stations on the Barkly Tablelands and in the Kimberley, she had long noticed here was a shortage in options, and has now taken the reins in developing a new denim brand for women needing strong work wear. Rosie O’Keeffe chats to Claudia, who also works in merchandise sales at Delta Ag’s Dunedoo branch, to discover what makes the CHUTE 9 range unique.
What prompted the decision to create a new range of women’s durable denim?
As a female in the agriculture industry, I have always struggled to find a pair of jeans that lasts and are made for working and horse riding. It’s always a subject friends and I would end up talking about – finding a pair that reflects our Australian environment and lifestyle we live in. After many years of waiting for one of the big companies to release the “dream jean”, the idea of doing it myself started to form. I have always wanted to run my own business and the idea of developing a product that I saw a lot of demand for in rural Australia seemed like a pretty sure thing to pursue.
Why do you think there are a growing number of women needing more durable/quality options? Do you think women working in agriculture and living rural lifestyles is growing?
I think in general there are a lot of girls returning back to the bush to pursue careers. There are definitely a lot more females in the industry then ever before. Horse sports such as campdrafting, cutting and polo cross are growing and the lifestyle is attractive. I think most females who live out in the country, whatever their occupation, end up needing a pair of durable jeans along the way. I think a lot of women’s clothing is made with less quality and more emphasis on the aesthetics rather then getting the foundation of the clothing right first then adding some final touches. There is a growing number of women wearing men’s clothing because they are made with more cotton, wear better, last longer and soften and age better. I have brought those same features over into my jeans but giving them a style and pattern that is feminine yet classic.
You have always worked in roles requiring durable work wear… Tell me about your passion for agriculture and your background in the industry and other roles…
For me it’s always been a lifestyle choice as well as the importance of the industry. Growing up in Brewarrina then Coonabarabran on family properties, riding horses, I have learned that being around animals and nature is something I never want to give up. My passion for the industry has being enriched by the many people I have met, friends I have made and the amazing places I have lived.
I fell in love with cattle, horses and the wide open spaces while working at AACo’s Headingly Station in Queensland in the stock camp after I finished school and I knew then I would be tied with country communities and rural industries. I came back for another year here after completing an agribusiness degree at Marcus Oldham College.
I then spent time at Auvergne Station in the Kimberley and CPC Carlton Hill Station and I am now enjoying working with Delta and developing this new venture.
Tell me about the process between developing the concept, creating the design and producing the pairs of jeans… How much time went in to researching the right fabric type? Where is everything manufactured and how many pairs have been made and sold?
In 2018 I flew down to Melbourne from Carlton Hill Station in the Kimberley to meet with a pattern designer in Melbourne to begin the process of fabric sourcing and designing a pattern for our first pair of jeans. She helped me with many processes involved in getting my first sample done and educating me about the textile industry. We did many samples over an 18-month period, in the end just making slight adjustments. Once I was happy with the quality and characteristics of the denim and then the fit of the jeans, I got six pairs made and sent them to friends who where located across Australia to test them out for me. They wore them for 12 months and the feedback gave me the confidence to order my first 150 metres of denim, to go on and sell my first 120 pairs. In the first week I sold 87 pairs then completely sold out three weeks later. I am now in the process of my next batch hopefully they will be ready early next year.
What sets the jeans apart? What makes them so durable and able to withstand tough conditions?
My jeans are not mass produced through big factories abroad, where companies utilise cost-effective fabrics and inputs to maximise profit gain. CHUTE 9 jeans have been designed to take into account the feminine figure, the pros and cons to comfort and the feel of denim on the skin for hours. We get them made in Melbourne where every pair is hand sewn on a machine with extra attention on the small details. The quality comes from the denim itself with nothing but cotton in the mix, and the way they have being sewn together. The denim industry in Australia is very small and transparent so communication and relationship building has also been key. The relationships I have built with the people who are a part of the making process have come to be people I can rely on and allows me to have my finger on the pulse.
What plans do you have to develop more jeans and larger range?
So far, it has been about testing the market to see how much demand there is for my jeans. The feedback has been amazing so now I am moving forward with my second batch and aiming to have continuous stock in a wider size range and different leg lengths.