Interviews

Welcoming Denham The Jeanmaker to Antwerp

19th March 2015

At the evening of the opening of their very first store in Antwerp, we had a chat with the founder of Denham The Jeanmaker, Jason Denham (what’s in a name?). We learned about the importance of heritage, fabric and his love for Japan.

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Welcome to Antwerp! Have you had the chance to take a look around?
Absolutely! I love this city, everytime I come here I tell myself I should visit more often. I’m very happy to open our first store here, we have big plans for this city.

Your brand is located in Amsterdam, the denim capital of Europe. How do you think the denim market in The Netherlands is different from the market in Belgium?
I agree that Amsterdam is the denim capital of Europe, as is Tokyo for the world. But Antwerp is a fashion capital that we would like to see become a denim city as well; we would like to play a part in that evolution.

At the moment, we have five denim stores in Amsterdam, all of them with a different focus. We are actually opening another store there tomorrow, it has become some sort of an addiction for me. It’s dangerous; I just keep opening stores :-).

What we’ve done for Antwerp, is taking a small footstep into introducing the brand in the market; this beautiful store gives a taste of what we do for men and women. The idea is to bring the whole brand concept here, step by step.

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A little bird told me that besides Antwerp, you really like Japan.
I do; I’ve been going there for over 20 years and I visit Japan about 5 times a year. We have some beautiful stores in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto. My favorite place in Tokyo is called the Americamura, which means the American village; it’s full of amazing denim stores. Japan has some of the best fabrics around; as I do a lot of making and production, it is important for me to keep in touch with what is moving in the Japanese denim market.

I’ve spotted some Italian fabrics in the collection as well.
True; Japanese denim is very ‘otaku’, very pure and original. Italian denim design is a lot more creative. As the trends in denim are changing everyday, faster and faster, performance becomes more important. And the Italians are winning in that; they have great finishes, colors, stretch and recovery.

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What’s your view on the American denim market?
It’s still a relevant market because that is where it all came from. I think Americans are still very big in the whole heritage thing. The heritage trend in Europe though is becoming less important; it taught us a lot about quality and fabrics but now we are moving forward.

So where are we now?
So now we are focusing on performance. When we look at selvedge fabric today for example, it has stretch and recovery; we would never have talked about that a couple of years ago.

So back to Denham; what is it that sets you apart from other brands?
I’ve been a jeanmaker all my life, that’s what I’ve always done and what I’m good at. I think what sets us apart, is that we are not a popular brand, we do our own way of thinking.
We are not totally obsessed with what happened in the history of jeans, we are always trying to push things forward. This doesn’t mean we should forget about the past, but we try to do new things, especially with womenswear. If you look at the technology in women’s denim today, it is amazing compared to what is was a few years ago. We make jeans today with Tencel and modal, all fibres that we never used before.

I’ve noticed a big change with menswear as well; a couple of years ago, the bearded hipster guys who visited our stores wanted raw selvedge jeans and now they are all asking for skinny jeans.

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What’s your personal story with denim?
I have a huge archive with denim items I’ve been wearing and collecting for years. I’m a gatherer of jeans that I buy all over the world. The Amsterdam Denim Days actually asked me to curate an exhibition with my favourite pieces at the Westergasfabriek next month. Besides denim, here will be a lot of indigo pieces and French workwear. We will also launch a full production movie there.

In the meantime, be sure to watch Denham Psycho, a parody of the famous business card scene from American Psycho.