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The return of fall is the return of denim. Nothing better completes traditional preppy looks like a corduroy blazer and cashmere scarf, or boots and a crisp button-down shirt, than new jeans. And yet, they’ll always be tough, the workhorses of cowboys and rebels, and able to play against the simplest and least pretentious of T-shirts and tanks.

Happily, the asphyxiatingly skinny look of the past few years is on the wane (although fans can get another round if they want), and dark, wide-legged boot cuts are back with a vengeance for both men and women. Although stars like Katie Holmes and Kate Hudson have been caught with pegged ankles and mom-jean high waists, if you want to break the skinny/wide dichotomy with something more personal, create your own. Custom looks are where new San Antonio designer Jesse Jackson excels.

Jackson began her customized denim line, Ryann Wayke, two years ago, when she and her friends could no longer afford to wear the jeans they liked from high-priced stores. A true recessionista, Jackson began reconstructing her friends’ old pairs of jeans to mimic designer lines. Soon, she was buying up old jeans and remaking them on a greater scale. “I visit the thrift stores as much as I can to purchase old merchandise that I can spruce up a bit, or add to the look I want to create. I believe that clothing should never have to be thrown out. Fashion repeats itself throughout history, so I try to use what I can find to keep the garments alive,” says Jackson.

Now, Jackson takes custom orders through personal recommendations and her MySpace page. If you already own a pair of jeans in good condition, you can send them to Jackson with your remake requests, and depending on the complexity of the design, she’ll charge as little as $30. Jackson says if you send in a photo of what you’re looking for, she can mimic almost any style, but currently she’s channeling Abercrombie, American Eagle, Diesel, Guess, Michael H, HTC, G-Star, L.A Denim Atelier, Earl jeans, and Express.

Jackson’s Ryann Wayke line is inspired by her love of surfing and anything to do with California. “Ideally, I’d like to open a store some day that has one side reminiscent of New York City and the other side California coastline,” she says. In typical LA fashion, though, the line touches on a more spiritual background as well: “Like many people, I’ve gone through periods where my creativity was dormant. ‘Wayke’ also reminds me of waking up, perhaps from a long dry spell, waiting for that burst of imagination to return.”

After playing around with reconstruction for seven yeas, and working on the line for two, Jackson’s dreams have taken a new direction. She’s enrolled for her first semester at the International Academy of Design and Technology, pursuing an associates of applied science degree in fashion design and marketing. To hone her craft, she’ll soon be taking courses in fashion sketching, principles of merchandising, and cultural diversity.

For now, it sounds like she is doing just fine in the marketing department. In line with her East Coast/West Coast, surfer-rocker passion (Jackson has dressed local musicians Matt Jones, Whitney Steele, and Landon Smith), she’s currently offering free jean reconstruction for musicians all over the U.S. “I feel that it’s a great way to not only meet other creative people, but to get the jeans out there,” says Jackson. “They get a free pair of jeans, and I post their music and a profile on my page. All I ask is that they put me on their front page so if anyone inquires about the jeans at one of their shows, they can easily tell people how to find me. They pay for postage to send them to me, and I pay for postage to send them back. For about $5, cooperative advertising works well for both parties.” Pretty savvy.

Where to get it

So, where can you get your hands on the Ryann Wayke line, or have the designer herself remake your tired old Levi’s? Fashion Emporium, at 300 W. Bitters, is the bricks and mortar stop if you’re old-school. But you can also get in touch with her directly, and see more of the line, at

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