If this keeps up, he’ll be big in Japan in no time. Bill Mitchell, the Bill behind bespoke company, Billiam, had a pinch-me moment in February—a customer from Japan flew in to buy 10 pairs of Billiam brand jeans. The fact that Mitchell is the lone keeper of the last of the historic American denim called Selvedge (from now defunct Cone Mills in North Carolina), and makes a stunning pair of fit-you-like-a-glove jeans, might have had something to do with it.
This surreal moment—in a string of them since he launched Billiam a decade ago—speaks to where Mitchell has been with his true-blue, born-in-the-USA jeans, and more importantly, where he’s going. “This will be a complete rebuilding year for us,” says the 32-year-old from his new space inside The Commons, the 12,000-square-foot community food and shopping hall off the Prisma Swamp Rabbit Trail. “All new products. A whole new way of thinking about business and tailoring clothes for people,” he says. “The main thing I want to get into is women’s leggings this year and transition into a full women’s collection. I want to give people what they have in Brooklyn, but from Greenville. I don’t want to create Brooklyn in Greenville, I want to create Greenville in Greenville and people in Brooklyn will be wearing what we’re making here.”
What he’s making includes the handmade buttery cotton T-shirts. “Every stitch is sewn right in here,” says Mitchell, as well as the GVL logo sweatshirts, belts, wallets, and the giant roll of camouflage that he is ready to take orders for to transform into skirts, jackets, aprons, and pants. In addition to an imminent unveiling of a completely rebranded logo, Billiam is venturing into a line of knitwear, as well.
Jeans start at $250 for right off the rack, with custom-made starting at $350. These take about two weeks to make—and are built to last. This isn’t just for the hipsters. His customers include octogenarians.
“People have bought my jeans because people have gone places and stopped them and said, ‘Where did you buy these?’” If Billiam has anything to do with it, there will be many more frequent fliers to #yeahthatgreenville.
Photography by Will Crooks. For more information on Billiam Jeans, visit billiamjeans.com.