Jul 20, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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Amsterdam’s De Negen Straatjes, or more recognizably The Nine Streets, is one of the city’s key districts for denim shopping. Home to local Dutch labels and concept stores alike, the area boasts a portfolio of big names such as Denham, Lee, K.O.I. (pop up), Spoiled, and the infamous Tenue de Nîmes is just off the grid. One of the newest members to arrive on the The Nine Streets scene is Amsterdams Blauw, Scotch & Soda’s concept denim store. We stopped by the store for a cup of coffee with Amsterdam denim veteran, Alex Jaspers, and newly appointed denim designer, Imogen Nulty, for a personal tour around the historical shop.
In August 2011, following the success of the newly launched Amsterdams Blauw denim diffusion line in 2010, Scotch & Soda embarked on their youngest and most ambitious project to date: a standalone Amsterdams Blauw denim store housing the label’s high profile collection. Located at Berenstraat 15 in the heart of the thriving Nine Streets shopping district, the store pays homage to the history of Amsterdam and the De Negen Straatjes area.
“The street you see here has been the same for the past 300 years” explained Alex Jaspers, Scotch & Soda’s Denim Brand Manager. Previously a grocery store, the shop front is instantly recognizable, with its striking blue fascia of Amsterdams Blauw (Amsterdam Blue), an ancient oil-based paint that was used in the Golden Century between 1500-1750 to paint Dutch porcelain. Nowadays, the color is still widely visible in Nine Streets where it is used on house number plates and street signs. Jaspers says,
“What we wanted to establish for the neighborhood is a grocery store, like what it used to be. Somewhere that people could escape the hectic shopping experience and take it slow. It’s a place to drop by, relax, enjoy a good coffee, have a chat and immerse yourself in beautiful products.”
Like the facade, the interior of the store still holds much of its authentic character with original exposed brick walls, antique ‘Dutch White’ floor tiles and reclaimed Singer sewing stools from old factories. The store balances “the authentic with a fresh optic,” juxtaposing old fixtures with contemporary flair to create a modern store environment. Inspired by old Parisian chemists and Apotheke stores, the store expresses the same brand philosophy as Amsterdam Blauw. “We are a modern denim brand with a different atmosphere than what you will see in most denim stores” explained Imogen Nulty, one of Amsterdam Blauw’s denim designers.
“This is how we feel: the denim trade is so fast that sometimes that we want to create slow product. It takes time to understand and feel and warm up to denim. Once you get it, this is our mantra.”
One of the most notable features of the store is the fitting rooms, which take cue from Amsterdam’s rich history. The pods are actually repurposed toilets that you can still see around Amsterdam today, while the curtains are reclaimed sails from the Dutch ships of the 17th century. The “X”s embossed throughout the outer shell of the pod are the symbol of Amsterdam city, and are also an icon used throughout the Amsterdam Blauw denim collection. “We’re constantly inspired by our great city Amsterdam, which allows us to be free in our approach to things,” said Imogen while walking us through the F/W 12 collection.
For the F/W 12 season, the Amsterdam Blauw designers were inspired by a mix of two cities: living in the fast-paced, buzzing city of New York and the Bedouin mind state of Marrakech. The result is a line of well-considered, carefully detailed denim garments with a relaxed feel and bohemian touch. This comes to life throughout beautifully rinsed indigos with naturally worn-in fades and rustic shades of spice that add a warm touch to the collection.
The jeans were named after some of the favorite NYC hangouts of the design team. Take the “Stump”, after Stumptown coffee roasters: a new loose tapered cropped leg 5-pocket model, available in the heavily stonewashed “Rockaway” (for Rockaway Beach). Or the “Gitane”: best breakfast cafe in town, brought to you in the “Spotted Pig” (another restaurant) wash with 3-D evolution effects.
There is also a premium selection of denims within the Amsterdams Blauw line, by the name of LOT 22. Inspired by a love affair with the pure natural origins of denim, the collection ranges from raw 14.5 oz Kuroki red listing selvedge (by the name of “Mr. Yasuda”, New York’s best sushi chef) to specially hand-laundered washes from Italy. “Denim should be accessible to everybody and this is what we try to explain through the LOT 22 collection” said Jaspers on the Blauw dry selvedge program.
The jeans are loaded with hidden LOT 22 labels and playful whispers detailing the inspiration and facts behind the garment. To elevate the premium appeal even further, all jeans are sold in an exclusive box and bag.
To see the latest Amsterdam Blauw F/W 12 collection check out the Scotch & Soda website, or if you’re in Amsterdam drop by the store at Berenstraat 15, Amsterdam 1016 GG, Netherlands, 0031-207882635.
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