The Quarter-Million Dollar Man

In the largest economic downturn since the Depression, what’s a denim manufacturer going to do to stand out? Jack up prices, of course. And not just by adding a few dollars to cost, but by creating a pair that will retail for $250,000! Jason Dussault of Dussault Apparel has created a one-of-a-kind pair of distressed jeans (and this man is an indigo sadist), complete with gold, ruby and diamond chains and detailing. Okay, don’t freak: All the money is going to charity and Dussault admits that it’s basically a publicity stunt.

I met Dussault at Kustom, a three-month-old store located on Front Street in New York’s South Street Seaport district. A replica of the quarter-million dollar jeans hanging in the store will retail for a mere $10,000, because the materials used are semi-precious stones and brass. (Even at that “markdown,” there were still two very intimidating bouncers at the door.) Again, proceeds from the limited edition (only ten replicas were created) will go to charity.

Though Kustom’s neighborhood may be a little touristy for owner Juan Justicia’s taste, it does get a lot of traffic. The half-dozen motorcycles that belong to Justicia and business partner Victor Conti, on display in the store, attract quite a bit of attention. Noses were still pressed against the windows even on a Thursday night when the tourist crowd had pretty much emptied out and the finance guys were headed for their $1,000 lap dances.

The store also carries a nice mix of brands such as Monarchy, We Are Replay, Dylan George, Scotch & Soda, and Pratt’s, as well as Affliction and Black Prince jewelry. In case you’re wondering, yes, Justicia was one of those guys that was actually leaving paper at When I Move You Move. The space itself is pretty minimal in design, with a sort of biker garage chic that should appeal to any hardcore denim addict.

While the invitation to the event pictured Dussault in “Heath Ledger as the Joker” clown makeup, carrying a machete and displaying a set of impressively muscled arms, in person he’s downright charming. A Canadian husband and father with a background in finance, Dussault was always into art and fashion. “I’d be shopping for a particular piece or style and could never find it, but then it would show up in stores three months later,” he says. Dussault started out by designing hoodies and eventually branched into denim. He also makes caps, which he has carefully crafted to have just the right crown height; 100% cotton T-shirts with a proprietary wash that looks wrinkled, but is actually a dyed pattern; and limited edition leather bags. “I want people to think the wearer is a rock star,” he says. Dussault has a flagship store on Melrose in Los Angeles, as well as the Dussault Motel.

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