May 26, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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While over in Amsterdam last week for denim days we were introduced to a number of start-up brands emerging out of the Dutch capital. One of the most progressive and interesting labels we discovered was +MICKKEUS, a small up-cycle atelier thats reappropriating vintage Levi’s for today. Here Stylesight speaks to the founder and designer Mick Keus.
Its safe to say that Amsterdam’s denim scene is flourishing like no other in Europe. Throughout the Dutch capitals small radius, a cluster of international giants, artisan and small start-ups, not to mention the roster of top denim stores, sit together to form Europe’s jean utopia. With such a thriving denim culture in the air, it is only natural that the city is giving birth to and nurturing some of tomorrows biggest indigo stars. So far on the DDD we’ve highlighted just a few of these emerging talents like Olaf Hussein, Facing West and Atelier Tossijn, to name just a few.
One of the most recent labels we discovered from our trip to Amsterdam Denim Days last week was local designer, Mick Keus of his namesake label +MICKKEUS. Mick showed his label at Blueprint as part of Mariette Hoitink’s HTNK Store, where he presented amongst a group of other emerging Dutch talents that included BDD, Olaf Hussein and Toile de Chine.
The brand, now two years old, is built around Mick’s philosophy of “not inventing anything new” but allowing product to naturally “come into existence“. Using this as his starting point, he began reusing vintage Levi’s 501 as a basis, dismantling these relics and reconstructing them into new fits that “correspond with the present“. While Mick is drawn by the strong and timeless character of these vintage pieces, he is also adamant to inject his own signature touch onto these classics, updating each pair with a clean and simple aesthetic that transforms these once dated fits into a “new” style of jeans.
Working with a small team out of his atelier in a former school building in the centre of Amsterdam, Mick produces these tailor-made vintage jeans on a bespoke service, rather than seasonal collections. The pieces are developed through a careful design process in which the original character of the 501s form the inspiration for the new design: “clean, strong and with a touch of rock ‘n’ roll” as he likes to describe. Customers are invited to the studio to search together with Mick and his team to find the perfect pair. As you can imagine, over the years Mick has gathered an extensive collection, with shelves stacked to the ceiling. Once the suited jean is selected, Mick goes on to tailor and adjust the fit to get the perfect fit and feel.
With such an interesting approach to denim design, we thought it was only right to talk to the man himself on his concept, inspirations and where he finds his vintage selects:
Amsterdam is now a key destination in Europe for some of the most directional denim brands in the market. As a young designer growing up in the city, how has this influenced your brand?
When I started I wasn’t aware of impact that denim has on the city. At that time I was living in the Hague. I moved last year to Amsterdam with the reason that Amsterdam is the place to be for the denim market. And I must say that I benefit from the fact that Amsterdam is presented as the denim capital of Europe. There is a lot of attention for denim.
What inspired you to get into jeans wear? Are you trained designer, if so where did you study?
It happened by purpose. I always have a strong attraction to denim, especially worn denim. I found them in market’s and customized them for myself. After my study (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) this attraction turned into a concrete thing and I started my own label.
You were showing at Blueprint among a collective of younger brands under HTNK. What is your relationship with them and how do they help support upcoming brands in Amsterdam today?
HTNK is important for me. They create possibilities for young designer to promote their brand. HTNK does many good things for the fashion industry and especially for young designers in The Netherlands. Marriette Hoitink (the owner) is a great person with passion for denim. It’s wonderful that she created this platform for young designers.
You use vintage jeans as a basis for your designs. Is this an ethical reason or do you prefer the look and feel of vintage garments?
It is certainly the look and feel of the garments that makes that I work with vintage jeans. It’s the worn part that make the trousers look more `real` and gives it the rock ‘n’ roll feeling that I prefer. Also the basic design of an older jean makes it more sturdy. But the fact that the jeans are “re-used” is also an important part of my label. It feels good to not take part in the pollution that comes with the manufacturing of denim.
There is no one else really doing what you do. What inspired you to take this approach with vintage?
I always re-made vintage jeans for myself. I’m tall and skinny and finding the right jeans for a reasonable price was not easy. More people seemed to be interested and thats how it all started. I believe that the vintage jeans I use are from such good quality that they should be re-used again. With the adjustment I make they are ready for a “second life”
Can you please tell us about your atelier and the process of buying a custom pair?
The reason that I can make made-to-measure jeans is because I use existing jeans. Throughout the years I have gathered hundreds of jeans. When the customer visits my atelier we search trough this collection of jeans for the right colour and size. This pair will be tailored at the wish of the costumer. There is also the possibility to have the jeans dyed in black or navy blue. Once this is all done the jeans is adjusted with trims and buttons and is ready for use.
Whats your favourite place to shop for vintage denim in Amsterdam?
To find out more about +MIKKEUS and his service, visit his website.
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