A Talk With Steve Cruz and Noah Mauldin of Naked & Famous Denim NYC

If you’ve ever been to our New York City store you have no doubt met Steve Cruz, and Noah Mauldin, not only do they manage the store, they are also some of the friendliest and knowledgeable people in the denim industry today. We sat down with them to talk denim and find out their opinions on the raw denim world.

1. Greatest Of All Time N&FD Raw Denim Pair.

S: Without a doubt I would say the 32 oz. The fact that it is the heaviest pair in the world and had never been done prior by any other brand is amazing to me. Much kudos and respect to those who’ve embraced them and have worn them with resilience and honor!

N: As cliche as it is, Elephant 2. I’m pretty sure a picture of a faded pair of E2s is what got me into raw denim in the first place. 

2. Favorite Non Denim N&FD Piece.

S: My red cordovan leather card case holder for sure! Every time I set it down at the bar it sparks a conversation or at the very least I catch glances being made towards it.

N: Circular knit tees! They kind of have a vintage fit since they’re made in the oldest shirt-making factory in NA, and the price to quality ratio is really good. 

3. How Did You Get Into Raw Denim?

S: My Father would wear 501’s and his leather jacket pretty much everyday and I used to think he was the coolest guy. So naturally trying to follow in his steps, I wore Levi’s Shrink-to-fit all throughout middle school, high school and college.

N: I saw a picture of faded Elephant 2s on Reddit. I’m sure I was on some fashion centric subreddit but it led me to /r/rawdenim and down the rabbit hole I went. I loved the idea of having a pair of jeans that is completely unique to myself that I put the work into. I’d bet a lot of people have a similar story.

4. First Pair Of Raw Denim?

N: Unbranded 21oz. I’d been interested in raw denim for a little bit at that point and found them on a clearance rack in my size. It was the dead of summer so I got to experience the joy of heavyweight denim in 95 degree+ weather. 

S : Levi’s STF were my first pair ever. Although if you mean first pair of Naked and Famous, I think they were Natural Indigo Weird Guy’s. I think. I can’t remember.

5. Biggest Raw Denim Misconception.

N: That you “aren’t supposed to wash them”. While I think it’s fun to shoot for 6 months without a wash, if you spill beer or something on your 2 week old jeans, don’t be afraid to wash them. General rule of thumb is just wash em when they’re dirty. Also, using a washing machine is just fine! I usually recommend using the “delicate” setting since it has a very short spin cycle, or I take them out before the spin so they don’t get too bunched up.

S: I agree with Noah, that’s the one we hear most at the shop. “I’m supposed to put them in the freezer right?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’d convince Brandon to open a store in LA too.  But, I always tell people if I were to put my jeans in my freezer you know what they’d smell like afterward? Ribs, cause that’s what I have in my freezer. Besides, with all the filth our jeans accumulate in the city you wouldn’t want it anywhere near your freezer. There’s no simple answer as to when you should wash them…You want crazy contrast? Hold off as long as you can. Wash periodically to freshen fabric and prevent filth to cause natural abrasion and prolong possible blow outs! If you want an old school resin-crinkle stone wash aesthetic, wear them hard and wash them every 2 weeks, chuck em in the dryer. Rocker. You follow the rules?, we don’t. Wear em how you want!

6. Where Is The Denim Industry Headed/Upcoming Denim Trends?

S: I just hope all the master’s in Japan that operate the machinery teach the youth to keep this love for denim going…

N: Fuller fits like Strong Guy and more high rise options available. Especially around Soho you see a lot of guys wearing baggier jeans, and more guys are realizing just how comfortable high rise pants are. 

7. What Should N&FD Do Next?

S: You know, before anything I’m a fan. One of the things I love is that many of our followers have ideas as to what should come next. I myself have presented a few ideas to Brandon our CEO and Bahzad our Creative. The cool thing is this, it seems as though there are no limits as to what can be brought into fruition by our team. What I think would be cool is having an open an active poll where our fans can vote and decide the future N&F denim pair…

N: I want to see another scratch n’ sniff in my lifetime, Lavender, Green Apple or Bourbon...

8. Favorite Aspect Of The NYC Store?

S: The staff! If you mean tangible? I love our speak easy hidden door. I tell people all kinds of stuff when they’re visiting…Oh yeah, we have some ‘Insert your favorite dream collab here’ samples in the back.

N: That’s a tough one... I love our giant neon sign and Wall of Fade, but it’s hard to beat the fact that we have real RAW DENIM FLOORS. It’s been really cool seeing them slowly fade over time. 

9. Best Piece Of Denim Advice?

S: No two pairs are intended to look the same. Wear them how you want and enjoy them. In the end they’ll reflect your lifestyle.

N: Don’t worry too much about how you want them to look in the end. If you go into it trying to have them fade a very specific way, you’ll only end up disappointed. Just wear them how you wear them and they’ll come out beautiful.

10. Funniest Customer/Raw Denim Story?

N: One of my favorite customers is an older woman who stopped in the store one day looking for bootcut jeans (walked out with a pair of Groovy Guys!), and she became totally enamored with the 32oz Heaviest Jeans in the World, she couldn’t stop laughing at them! About half a year later she came back with a set of suspenders and was ready to get a pair of 32oz herself! So cool. 

S: Many moons ago, one night I was sitting in my bath tub shrinking down an unsanforized pair – I received a text from a girl I was ‘dating’ at the time and she asked, “What’re you up to?” Not really thinking much of it I sent her a picture from the waist down and she wrote back, “Don’t do it” thinking I was committing suicide. True story I can’t make this sh*t up. Lol.

11. Biggest Denim Mistake You Personally Made

S: Getting rid of my Naked and Famous ‘Vintage Nude’ pair. I miss it till this day.

N: Sending a pair of jeans I faded back to the shop I bought them from for their archive. It’s cool that they get to live on and help people see how the fabric fades, but I miss them! (We want YOUR jeans for our Wall of Fade though 😉)

12. Least Favorite Trend In Raw Denim?

S: The heavily opinionated folks on the denim forums, by in large everyone is nice to each other, but some people are really set in their ways and are vocal about it! Let that man do those quadruple cuffs if he chooses to! LOL!

N: I’ve noticed that some people think that “slim” is the only way jeans should fit. There’s a lot of different ways to wear jeans!

13. Favorite Denim Detail

N: Chainstitch hem. There’s nothing I love more in a worn in pair of jeans than beautiful roping around the hemline. And because we get to use a Union Special to hem jeans at our location, I think I’ve come to appreciate a well done hem. 

S: I’d say on our jeans, I LOVE our flashers. Bonnie, our Graphic designer does an amazing job with those. But as those come off I’d say the selvedge ID. Not because, it is necessary per say – but because it highlights the characteristics of the denim itself. My fav color for selvedge ID’s are yellow.

14. Favorite Album 2018? Favorite Of 2019 So Far?


N: 2018: Like Pacific - In Spite of Me

S: 2019: I don’t have a favorite yet but, I’ve been listening to a lot of YG.

N: 2019: N/A, been too busy to listen to listen to much music this year! 

15. Greatest Of All Time Album?

N: Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3

S: NAS Illmatic or one of those Kidz Bop, can’t remember the number but it was a slapper!

16. Celebrity Crush

N: Leonardo DiCaprio 😎

S: I’ve got a top 3:

-Angelina Jolie

-Lucy Liu

-Marisa Tomei or Eva Mendes? IDK

17. Favorite Movie

S: All of the ones with Deniro in em. Or Pacino, you know the good stuff.

N: Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums or Spike Jones’ Her

18. Best Tv Show Of All Time

S: Batman (1966)

N: Best show of all time is The Simpsons


bahzad trinos