It took them less than thirty years to make a unique name for themselves and transform this family-run laundry in Montagnana into an amazing permanent lab, where new techniques and methods of “antiquing” turn jeans into works of art
Are you in search of 21st Century art? The kind that is unique and marked by the passage of time?
More than to a museum or art gallery, you should be heading to a laundry.
But not just any laundry.
Rather, something akin to a magician’s laboratory where every day hundreds of pounds of denim — the fabric of jeans — are transformed into mind-blowing objects of desire.
And LIM is just the right place to find it.
Established in 1987 in Montagnana (province of Padua) by Guerrino Stevanin, in less than thirty years of operation, LIM has already become a factory that churns out thousands of jeans, one after another, washed and distressed or aged, depending on the latest instructions from the in-house research lab, or following customer specifications (from fashion industrialists to world-famed stylists, to the artisan shopkeeper tucked in among the giant warehouses in the Veneto hinterland).
The ‘birth’ date itself, in the heart of the “carefree ’80s”, leads us to speculate that LIM found inspiration in the materials and images of the world where it put down its roots. Those were the days when a song by Duran Duran set millions of kids dancing in their mythic “501” jeans, authentic status symbol for young people who did not limit themselves to wearing jeans, but rather tended to “live in them”, turning them into a kind of generational ID card.
Thirty years later, our need to dance remains the same. From the Durans of “Notorious” we have moved on to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in a world where an infinite number of things have changed but not, fortunately, the ability of songs — light as bubbles and seductive as fire — to get us gently jumping in the air, even better when part of a crowd. Which explains why today, as back then, we feel the need to wear some comfortable, imaginative and communicative “denim” (once known as fustian, originally blue) from which jeans are made. Perfect for the work day, and also for the dance floor as evening falls.
This fundamental insight spelled success for LIM, the brand name passed on to sons Romeo, Gianfranco and Mauro, the current owners, along with the “mission” to stay synced to the rhythms of the world around them. A royal road that soon led to the transformation of the small, original shop, with its single washing machine and two ironing stations, into the current factory, where every day, about thirty employees process thousands of garments sure to make their wearers happy, and at the same time, spark the curiosity of those who admire them during a stroll through city center, under the lights of a disco, and even among the crowds at the mall.
If the Art in this self-propelled ability to seduce is beyond comprehension, then it is better to forego the search for what perpetuates, nowadays, the power to fascinate of an Impressionist canvas or a Byzantine mosaic. Considering the universal nature acquired by jeans, whether worn by the millionaire “trader” with an office on Fifth Avenue, the night owl university student in Copenhagen who takes them off and puts them on between one bed and the next, or by the laid-off laborer from Marghera receiving unemployment compensation, it seems natural to apply “support” status to a globalized article of clothing suited to all ages and pocketbooks, by means of which it is possible to “advertise” thoughts, images, provocative jabs, anecdotes, or fantasies, pure and simple. Hence the aim to embellish these ‘go anywhere’, day or night, pants with a “lived-in” patina through a distress-effect process where the lab takes the place of everyday wear and tear.
LIM is able to craft these looks thanks to full-on knowledge of the techniques of special effects used in the world of “jeans” — beginning with the historic “stone washed” method using abrasive stones (at times the well-known pumice stone), to various techniques introduced in the ’90s, like sand-blasting and marbling, on up to the major shift that took place with the new millennium. It became clear that, to lend jeans real added value in terms of wear, it was necessary to bring back manual processing. Hence the possibility for LIM customers, depending on their resources and their reference market, to make use of virtually unlimited possibilities in terms of workmanship and processing — from abrasion with brushes and sand paper to the use of sanding machines and pistols to obtain rips, tears and splotches of color that ensure the increasingly popular vintage look. Results that can be obtained through a seemingly boundless array of techniques: sanding, “decoration”, fraying, mends, sprays, and pure inventiveness that lie somewhere between tailoring, painting and a hint of alchemy.
It is important to note that these are all techniques used by LIM in support of their unique manual artistry. The kind required to create unusual combinations of folds, tears, shading, abrasions, and repairs. This calls for constant research and experimentation that ranges from ‘bleaching’ effects to the new doses of color that can be applied to one’s best pair of jeans for a morning over the books at school and a disco party the following night.
What is clear is LIM’s universal ability to interact with the marketplace, capable of connecting with high fashion “brands” (to whom they can guarantee up to thirty phases of treatment), and with the small companies that serve customers in search of something practical and durable.
With such a vast and varied clientele, the LIM showroom periodically undergoes total makeovers, designed to put on display as many examples as possible of a production that just gets bigger and more varied.
Not simple merchandise, but “works” on the boundaries between craftsmanship and art.
Where looking at all those jeans makes you feel like you are in a beautiful, and above all, totally alive museum.
35044 Montagnana (PD)
Tel. +39 (0)429-82211
Fax +39 (0)49- 8312111