“You can really see the difference on the inside,” says Han, who himself cuts a dapper figure in his workwear jacket, neatly tailored jeans and dark, plum-brown leather lace ups. “Look,” he says, turning a pair inside out and pointing to the stitching around the button fly, “in a standard high street pair that would be stitched using an overlocker, instead we use French seams.” Following traditional methods of jean construction – a subject Han has studied meticulously – might be more laborious, but it means the finished garments have longevity. “Good jeans,” says Han, “should last a lifetime.”
Though the team are clearly busy, the atmosphere in the factory floor is oddly relaxed. A faint hum of music underscores the clack of the sewing machine, and now and again there is a delicious waft of herbs and spices. “That’s coming from our kitchen,” smiles Han, noticing my confusion and beckoning me to the back of the room. Two chefs are vigorously kneading dough while a rich stew simmers on the stove. “Food is really important to me,” he explains, “I think it’s the most honest thing in life. It opens up conversation and brings people together.” Next to the kitchen is a large wooden dining table and from the beginning, the factory has hosted pop up supper clubs. They are currently being run by Gather 17, who are open Friday and Saturday evenings and Sundays for brunch.