Amsterdam Denim Day 2015

Last week Amsterdam celebrated everything blue with its second edition of Denim Days. WGSN’s denim team was there for it all to soak up all the news and events. Sunday saw Amsterdam Denim Days close its doors to yet another hugely successful 6 days of indigo inspiration for the now must-see annual show. The Dutch capital became the centre of attention for the second time for all those with an indigo heart, attracting visitors from across Europe, Japan, the US, Canada and beyond. Part industry event and part festival, the programme has something for denim lovers of every kind, from the industry-only Kingpins, to Blueprint’s business to consumer show as well as the numerous events and showcases going on in and around the city throughout the week long schedule. Unlike the standard trade show formats seen in Berlin, Paris and Vegas, Amsterdam Denim Days is fully supported by its denim network, which runs deep throughout the city and pulls together a community of big brands like Denham, Scotch & Soda, Kings of Indigo as well as the thriving number of independent makers, the Jeans School and of course the huge denim fan base in Holland to create a truly inspirational occasion.

While the official Denim Days kicked off from the 13th April with its City Centre programme of store events and openings, the big industry business started with the opening of Kingpins on Wednesday 15th, where the invite-only, fabric trade fair opened its doors to fashion professionals in the denim industry for its 3rd edition in the city. Hosted by founder Andrew Olah, the boutique fair boasts itself on its intimate atmosphere with a tightly edited selection of 20 mills, laundries and fibre produces from across the world. The Fall/Winter 2016/17 edition held once again at Westergasfabriek was the busiest to date, welcoming around 400 companies, out of whose 275 attended on the shows crowded first day.

A number of talks, discussion panels and trend presentations where held throughout both days including Denim Bloggers: A Direct Link to Consumers, Orta and Garmon Present: Greenscreen, WGSN’s A/W 16 Surface Trends, HTNK: who needs another label as well as a screening of the highly anticipated Blue Gold denim film. Some of the most interesting news stories to emerge from the show include the launch of Seven Senses, a newborn 1005 organic denim collection between Indian NGO, KBD Samiti, and Dutch entrepreneur Andriana Landegeant. The brand 100% cotton selvedge denims are handspun, handwoven and naturally dyed by Northern Indian families from their homes in Bihar. The eco-initiative  uses only natural indigo plants, avoiding unnatural and environmentally harmful substances and most importantly aims to support underprivileged artisans and help increase their standard of living. Cone celebrated its White Oak division’s 110th anniversary with a showcase of some of its archive pieces including an original swatch from its inaugural run in 1905 as well as some revamps of the mills most peculiar archive fabrics, including special ribbed-woven one from the 1980s. A new industry magazine, produced by The Vintage Show Room and denim trend specialist’s Sue Barrett and Katy Rutherford was also launched. The publication is about global street style-trends and the vintage garments that inspire them. It combines extensive vintage knowledge with a trended snapshot of current global street-styles and is on sale now. After the opening day guests headed to Amsterdam’s denim institution Tenue de Nîmes, for the cities Denim Dudes book launch, while at the end of the closing day guests were invited to the inauguration of the Denim City, Amsterdam’s newest denim innovation campus for the House of Denim Jeans School. The space is kitted out with state of the art laundry machines, industry standard equipment as well as an archive of vintage denims pieces (which founder James Veenhoff is currently sourcing donations for permanent loan). April 17 marked the opening of the second edition of the business to consumer show Denim Days, which was now hosted alongside Modefabriek’s indigo arm, Blueprint. Held in the neighbouring section of Westergasfabriek, the two day event invites professionals from the denim industry and all denim enthusiasts to get together to celebrate all things indigo. The program is open to the public and invites fans to connect with their favourite local denim brands and labels directly as well as watch and get involved with a series of denim related events. Key players like G-Star, Denham, Scotch and Soda and Kings of Indigo participate alongside local labels like BDD, Butcher of Blue and a number of small artisan labels. Building upon last years debut show, show organisers packed out the space with demonstration stands, artisan workshops and interactive spaces that invited consumers to get involved directly with the brands on show. Attendees were greeted at the entrance to the show with life size posters of the newly launched Denim Dudes, which featured many of Amsterdam’s denim faces like. Inside local craftsman Facing West and Blueprint Amsterdam, who also showed last year, collaborated on an indigo workshop for boro patchworking and shibori dyeing. Next door, Kapital’s Shunji Ohashi was offering up his Japanese patchworking services where attendees could get there favourite wears repaired the traditional Japanese way or pick up customised versions Shunji’s sashiko work aprons. Denham launched its new film, The Jeanmaker, as a follow up to their Denim Psycho parody, while Jason from Denham offered up a select number of his vintage pieces from his private archive for a denim expo (curated by Wouter from Long-John) in the centre of the show (Check out it out in full on Long-John). A couple of the mills also got involved with Candiani creating 30 selected jeans that were handcrafted by the students from the Jeanschool. Isko’s Creative Room and Jeanologia had there laser machines to hand to create custom pieces on denim tote bags and denim bicycle seat covers as well as a presentation from Allijan Moehamad aka Skulljan who hand painted denim garments. Kings of Indigo also presented its Red Light selvedge collection which was produced from post recycled cotton, worn and collected in Amsterdam.

Outside attendees could also purchase product directly from some of Holland’s local makers in The Denim Market. Some of the best brands we came across were Kurt’s Amsterdam, who is producing indigo goods in the city from handloomed fabrics from Thailand, Deadstock Resurrection, a one-man brand from Utrecht who is creating small batch denim pieces from deadstock fabrics and also Denim.Lab who presented his collection of selvedge 5-pocket styles as well as kids versions for diddy denim dudes.

Chore coat in handloomed Thai indigo fabric from Kurt’s Amsterdam

The show also hosted a number of seminars around the current issues in the denim industry. The opening day kicked off with the conference concept Kingpins 2029, The Transformers, in collaboration with House of Denim. The keynotes and panel discussions focused on the theme ‘Denim, jeans & water’ and invited some 18 key players from Kingpins to discuss he changes that need to happen in the jeans industry to make it more environmentally viable, socially responsible and financially sound by 2029. Spokesman from Garmon Chemicals, Texas Aliance for Water Consumption, Lenzing, ITV Denim and Denim Valley by Royo discussed and challenged the topic of water usage in the production process of denim, including fiber, fabrics and finishing and presented their concepts for change in their specific areas of focus. The second day saw more consumer friendly presentations like WGSN’s F/W 15 Denim Runway trends and Nick Coe, founder of Rawr Denim’s excellent breakdown of how denim brands should market themselves online. Overall, the week was a huge success and truly shows the amazing denim network Amsterdam and the Netherlands has, and more importantly how it unites and inspires the global denim community. The second season of the show has how truly shown the blueprint for future denim trade show formats, a 360° approach that involves not only industry insiders but also the denim community in the host cities. There have been requests for franchises in cities in the States and Australia already but Denim Days founder James Veenhoff is keen to still build a solid structure in Amsterdam before rolling the program out. Watch this space.


Photo Credit: Peter Steiger

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