Knoxville native creates small batch denim line

His grandfather told him when you leave the house, "Even if you don't have a million bucks you should dress like a million bucks."

That Knoxville designer has turned that fashion advice into a successful business.

"I am a dream follower. I am still following my dream," Marc Hall said.

The Knoxville native's diverse career history includes construction, hair salons, and modeling and acting in Los Angeles.

"My dream had always been to start a clothing line so I talked to a few friends, actually some friends out in L.A. I went back out there for 6 months and did some study work and development work and came up with the Marc Nelson brand," he said.

Ok, his name is Marc Hall so why is it called Marc Nelson Denim?

"My line pays homage to my grandfather who is L.C. Nelson and my mother calls me Marc so that's how we came up with Marc Nelson," he explained.

You'll find the headquarters for Marc Nelson Denim in Knoxville's warehouse district. It's an eclectic work space with boxes of inventory and denim on display.

"It's a small batch denim line. We do some numbered pieces. We generally don't produce more than 214 pieces of everything," he said.

Small batch means a bigger price tag. Jeans run from about $200 to about $300. You're paying for custom design and attention to detail like special rivets and fabric. Marc Hall describes his designs as southern comfort with a contemporary edge.

He started with men's jeans then added women's and denim jackets. You can find them at headquarters and and in boutiques.

"We're hoping to get in to a major department store soon," he said.

He's expanded distribution since bringing his business home to Knoxville in 2011.

"When I was growing up a lot of my friends and family worked at the Levi's plant here in Knoxville, Tennessee on Cherry Street. So when they shut down in '89... I wanted to start a company that hopefully one day would be big enough to be of Levi's stature and hire people from the community so they would also have something to be proud of again made in the United States of America here in East Tennessee," he said.

So what would his grandfather think about Marc Nelson Denim?

"I think he would be really proud of me. I think he would say bring me a pair of those jeans," he said.

Watch Abby Ham's earlier story on Marc Hall here.


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