RED BANK: A SECOND CAREER IN OLD JEANS

Kattya Torres at her Union Special sewing machine. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After her job as a wireless telecom engineer vanished in a merger, a Red Bank businesswoman has found a second career in eradicating crotch rot.

Ahem: that is to say, the holes that frequently develop in the groin of old jeans some people simply cannot part with.

Denim Surgeon, featuring a denim awing, is located in a parking lot off Wallace Street. Below, Torres shows off a pair of distressed jeans she’s repairing.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Torres, of Middletown, recently opened Denim Surgeon at “43 Rear” Broad Street, a narrow shop accessed through a parking lot between Wallace and Mechanic streets.

It’s the second store for the business, which was born and continues to operate in midtown Manhattan, sharing space there with Torres’ father’s shop, Mid City Tailoring.

Torres had just lost her telecom job a decade ago, but what really led to her new career was a fashion conundrum: pregnant with her third child, “I couldn’t find maternity jeans to fit,” she told redbankgreen. So she took her favorite pair of jeans to her father and asked him how she might make them wearable again.

Following his advice, and applying her own basic sewing skills, Torres altered her jeans, not to mention the course of her life. In doing so, it occurred to her that there might be a business not just in letting out waists for expectant moms, but fixing “catastrophes,” such as a crotch holes, busted zippers and knee blowouts.

“I thought, ‘if I have this problem, other people might, as well,'” she said.

Her instinct proved correct. Holding up a pair of gnarly jeans that belong to a fashion designer, she said he’s come to her repeatedly over the years with well-worn garments he refuses to get rid of.

“There’s an emotional attachment to denim,” Torres said.

Equipped with a Union Special sewing machine favored by “denim heads” for its ability to execute an all-important chain stitch, Torres works in a narrow space whose racks are already filled garments awaiting repair or recently completed, some of them shipped in by customers around the globe. Employees run the New York shop, she says.

Denim Surgeon’s fees range from $10 for a simple belt loop repair to $25 for a zipper replacement to $200 for extensive customizing.