Amsterdam’s Innovation Campus: A school for rising denim design talent

As Europe’s denim capital, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam counts itself as the city with the most jeans companies per square kilometer in the world. G-Star RAW, Denham, KOI and Scotch & Soda are just a few of the local names that are set up in the city. As you’d expect with such a high concentration of brands based in and around the Dutch capital, there is a high demand for denim talent. This is why Mariette Hoitink and James Veenhoff set up the world’s very first jeans school in the city back in 2012.

Seeing a gap between industry and education, especially an absence of denim programmes in fashion schools, the co-founders set about creating a denim-specific curriculum that would teach budding enthusiasts the craftsmanship of denim design and development. The course aims to teach students the ins and outs of the denim trade, from design to sales, allowing graduates to work in the jeans industry across design, development, purchasing and production.


Last year, the school sent off its first graduates into the jeans world, many of whom now have positions working for some of the most prestigious names in the industry. The next generation of students are just as eager and are better equipped in their learning with the recent opening of the Jeans School’s latest addition, Denim City.

‘Located in De Hallen, a repurposed tramshed, in the centre of Amsterdam, Denim City is a foundation and physical building initiated to explore cleaner ways to produce denim around the world. With a fully equipped workshop and laundry on-site, it serves as a hub for the denim industry to meet,  experiment and collaborate, and most importantly provides a innovation campus for the Jean School.’


The project is the brainchild of Jeans School co-founders Hoitink and Veenhoff alongside a variety of brands, suppliers, and the government who all chimed in to make the foundation happen.

Inside the vast space are 5 key elements of Denim City:

-a denim craftsman workshop;

-an institute for developing and sharing knowledge, with its own archive,

-Blue Lab, a sustainable laundry innovation centre;

-the embassy, space for networking and enterprise;

-and an education facility for Jean School.


On our visit to the space during Amsterdam Denim Days, we were lucky enough to see the facility in action. Blue Lab hosted its first laundry days (subscribers: watch out for our coverage) and the students were busy at work cutting and sewing garments for their upcoming projects. Two students who stood out to us were duo, Bas Vos and Timothy Marcelino.


Just second year students, the pair were making use of the facility and ambitiously working on a unassigned project to create a collection of garments for their newly launched label Fifth Ave. Interested to hear more, we spoke to the teens to find out more about their inspirations and designs. The pair were quick pull out their mood boards and garments off the rails and fill us in on their almost complete collection.


Taking inspiration from WGSN’s forecast trends, the students were tasked with creating a 10 piece collection for A/W 16. Throughout the pages of inspiration pictures and cads, the boys whipped up an impressive range that consisted of cargo pocketed jeans, reworked trucker jackets and a functional waterproof cagoule formed from a combination of raw denim and neoprene. Each piece was carefully considered and finely finished with sharp cut and sew piecing. Their talent and aspiration were admirable and most definitely demonstrated a promising future for whats to come from the school. View their lookbook (shot by Exsterno Photography) below:

04-3 05-Fifth_Ave-12  01-Fifth_Ave-1 02-Fifth_Ave-_11




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