Words by Jon Ruti, Photography by Jenna Jones.
John Gallagher has been a fixture at Rivay since the beginning. As the fashion industry’s top fit model, he advises companies on how a garment should fit. And believe me, fit is a lot more complicated than it seems. When John “fits” a garment, he analyzes the drape, pitch, stance and a ton of other variables I never knew existed. He’s a master and I credit him with making our collections fit perfectly season after season.
John has been a fit model for over 25 years and recently started a new venture: Blackthorn Denim. Denim is a competitive category, but Blackthorn is different. With John’s fit expertise, these jeans just fit right. But the brand doesn't stop at excellent fit – this denim is literally made in the USA from the ground up. The cotton is from Louisiana, it’s woven in Louisiana on vintage Draper X3 machines and then manufactured in Los Angeles. Truly grown and sewn in the USA.
I asked John to answer a few questions and tell us more about him and Blackthorn, hope you enjoy!
JR: Before we get into Blackthorn, give the folks a little intro and tell us about the day job…
JG: My day job has me meeting with various men’s fashion brands to establish the perfect medium fit for whatever product category they happen to be working on that given day. I have worked on pretty much every category from underwear to outerwear. Brands will call me in to a fitting and we will break down a garment’s specs and shape from top to bottom. Then, we will look at fabric performance, wash, and details like pocket placement and size, thread details and type of stitching until we cover everything on the list. I can work with one client all day or have several fittings with different clients.
JR: We love getting the story behind a brand, tell us about the inspiration behind Blackthorn Denim, the name and how the company came to be…
JG: Starting my own brand has been something I have wanted to do for a long time. It really seemed like it was never the right time so I worked on the things that were important yet didn’t require me to take time off from my consulting work.
My favorite category has always been denim so it was an easy decision as to what kind of brand I could really be excited about. The branding part was super important to me so that’s where it began. A deep dive into my Irish heritage led me to this Early Medieval alphabet call Ogham. It was actually a “Celtic Tree Alphabet” and that’s where I discovered Blackthorn and the letter that represents it. The meaning is ultimately Strength & Triumph over Adversity. It is a tree of protection and has a very human like essence to it. I could go deeper but you get the picture.
JR: Denim is a competitive category, tell us why Blackthorn is different and how it shines above the others.
JG: It’s all about fit and quality. Blackthorn is a FIT FIRST brand. I’ve developed 3 different fits for 3 different body types with a product that is made in America. Starting out with a Raw Selvedge Denim concept has really made a difference for us because it’s difficult to make a raw jean feel super comfortable right out of the box. The feedback has been fantastic so far and the jeans just keep getting better and better the more you wear them. We have selvedge details throughout with amazing logo buttons made in Italy. Reinforced back pockets with logo rivets and for these limited edition first run jeans the pocket bag has all the jean details and my signature printed on it.
It's all in the details: Raw selvedge denim, Made in Italy hardware and signature interior pocket bags
JR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting their own brand/company/thing, what would it be?
JG: Take Action!!
JR: You have one hour to escape your normal day, what do you do?
JG: Quick workout
JR: Now you’ve got 2 weeks…
JR: The one hotel that you judge all others by and why…
JG: Viceroy Bali. It is absolutely magical. Everything about this hotel is perfection. Nicely situated just down the road from Ubud, Viceroy Bali is a jungle paradise. They have a helipad so guests can call the front desk and order a helicopter to take them around the island.
JR: You can teleport to any bar in the world right now, where to?
JG: Agua Bar, One&Only Palmilla
JR: What are you ordering at that bar?
JG: Dirty Martini with Hendricks and blue cheese stuffed olives.
JR: What will we always find on your nightstand?
JG: Photo of my wife and I. Magnesium tablets. Mineral water
JR: You travel quite a bit; do you have a travel hack/piece of travel advice for everybody out there?
JG: Relax and enjoy. Pre Hydrate with electrolytes and don’t forget your noise canceling headphones.
JR: Your hometown?
JG: Milton, NY
JR: Place we’re most likely to find you if we’re looking?
JR: Place we’d never find you?
JG: Taco Bell
Okay, final speed round…
JR: What’s on the wrist?
JG: I’m really loving my Apple watch and my old Breitling Super Ocean
JR: You can only have one album playing in your car for the rest of your life – what album?
JG: Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
JR: Last Google search?
JG: Simon Sinek – Start with Why
JR: Biggest risk ever taken?
JG: Night diving in the Red Sea. I can never see myself doing that again.
Photo by Jenna Jones