The Welsh firm behind Meghan's jeans
When Meghan Markle wore a pair of Hiut Denim Jeans on her recent visit to Cardiff, she was highlighting a great Welsh business success with a long pedigree.
For the past six years, high-end jeans have been produced by Hiut Denim in the west wales town of Cardigan and shipped across the world to a growing legion of fans who admire the craftmanship involved in their making.
A team of just 15 people is involved in hand-cutting and sewing the trousers from giant rolls of indigo-coloured denim imported from Turkey and Japan. Hiut turns out around 120 pairs a week, each one taking one hour ten minutes to manufacture, in contrast to the 11 minutes in a highly mechanised plant.
With a population of 4,000, Cardigan has a long history of jeans-making. For almost 40 years the town was home to a factory that made 35,000 pairs of jeans each week for Marks & Spencer. The facility closed in 2002 with the loss of 400 jobs when production was moved to Morocco, but was revived in 2012 by Cardigan born David Hieatt, who returned to west Wales to use his hometown’s machinist expertise to create a successful export business.
With his co-owner wife Clare, David had previously owned the clothing firm Howies, which was sold to US firm Timberland for £3.2m in 2011.
The Hiut name combines the first two letters of David’s Hieatt surname with the word ‘utility’. Each machinist makes a pair of jeans from start to finish, and each pair is individually signed by the “grand masters”, as David calls them, with a requirement for new staff to train for three years before they can start making jeans for customers.
Hiut sells directly to consumers around the world via its website, and exports 25% of its jeans. David’s previous career was in advertising, so the website is very strong, and the company is an expert in social media – something the ‘Meghan Markle’ effect can only enhance!