Joakim Levin is sitting in a conference room in Nudie Jeans’ headquarters in Göteborg, a small city in Sweden where the denim brand was founded. The space—an old bank—reminds me of the New York Public Library: high ceilings, marble floors, dark wood furniture. Levin, who’s dressed in a grey T-shirt, a newspaper boy cap, and black Nudie jeans is telling me about the first Nudie repair shop he’s opening in New York City this year. “This is a big thing for us,” he says.

Levin, the company’s chairman, has worked at Nudie since he founded it with Maria Erixon in 2001. In the 14 years since, Nudie has remained niche—”We’ve always been, and we’ve always in many ways wanted to be,” he says—but Levin wants to widen the brand’s reach. The repair shops and repair service offered at the stores help, he says, but even he will admit that Nudie’s success all starts with one thing: raw denim.