Feb 15, 2017 | By Samuel Trotman
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Stylesight sits down and talks to Olaf Hussein, the latest addition to Amsterdam’s denim family.
Last month Stylesight’s denim team attended Amsterdam’s Modefabriek where we covered Blueprint, the shows denim-dedicated room full of both international and local Dutch brands. The Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular have become Europe’s hot bed for young denim design talent. The thriving denim culture in the city has given birth to a gaggle of smaller denim ateliers like Kings of Indigo, Benzak Denim Developers and Butcher of Blue.
One of the newest and most promising label that was presented at Blueprint was the namesake label of Olaf Hussein, an expressive denim brand born out of the designer’s curiosity of exploration and travel. Founded only two years ago, Olaf has already established himself firmly in the city’s denim landscape, landing spots in key outlets like Tenue de Nîmes, 1 and Van Dijk.
Olaf creates his bespoke products with the denim purist in mind and takes pride in doing it the right way. The core of the collection is built on simplicity and quality with cleanly tailored lines captured through premium 13OZ Japanese selvedge sourced from the renowned Kuroki mill in Okayama.
For Hussein, every single detail is crucial; his two jean fits, New Standard and New Standard Slim, are highlighted by a unique Japanese selvedge zipper, an Italian hand-brushed gold button and a hand-stitched green vegetable tanned, embossed leather patch by Guild of Holland. Limited to only 100 pairs of each fit, Olaf is keeping things simple so that he can focus on quality and correct placement of the brand.
To find out more behind the brand we spoke to the man himself to discuss the story behind his brand, his influences and how it is to be a young brand among Amsterdam’s bustling denim scene:
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 and influences?
I am always inspired by the world around me, but Amsterdam is really important to the identity of the brand. Not only is Amsterdam the chosen European HQ of denim brands like Levi’s Vintage Clothing and Tommy Hilfiger, it’s also home to many internationally successful Dutch brands like G-star, Denham and Scotch & Soda. With the increased amount of denim brands and denim minded people, the scene in Amsterdam grew rapidly over the years. Growing up in Amsterdam with some of the most iconic brands with unlimited possibilities hugely influenced my creativity and modern view on design.
You were showing at Bread & Butter and Modefabriek 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?
Trade shows, when chosen correctly, provide an excellent way to build your business, especially if you’re relatively new in the industry. For my label the selection of these trade shows was based on getting the right exposure to the right audience. They both provide a unique and extremely popular meeting point for buyers, retailers and press representatives from the textile industry. It is also the place where it is made possible to connect with other brands and discuss new innovations and trends. With the collective of younger brands under the HNTK Foundation they make it easy to match creativity with business and give the upcoming brands in Amsterdam a platform to expend their brand.
You do not have a design background and are self taught on machines. What inspired you to get into jeanswear?
The Evisu brand definitely got me inspired to get into jeanswear. They had an obsessive attention for detail, which they combined with high-end fabrics. I remember the days that I as a young kid just couldn’t wait to get my very own pair. I think it was somewhere between the age of fourteen or fifteen, my mum bought my first pair of dry denim, a pair of Evisu jeans with white painted back pockets. I remember that it was within the first week I made a rip and I had to make a repair. I wore them through the back end of winter. They saw a few showers and some puddles and a bit of snow too. Denim quickly became my passion, so I spent hours and hours a day learning everything I could about the fabric: the history of denim, how it’s made, the dying process, etc. I discovered this mix of modern and traditional elements, which has brought me a great interest to discover the beauty of it. It wasn’t `till years later that I started my own line, Olaf Hussein.
Can you please tell us about some of the key details that make your jeans stand out from other 5-pocket styles in the market today? (i.e. selvedge fly etc.)
One of our key details is the fit. We are specialized in two different fits, the high-waist tapered and the mid-rise slim fit. The high-waisted tapered is for the person with muscled upper legs that still wants to wear comfortable tapered jeans. The mid-rise slim is our standard fit. The Olaf Hussein jean takes a modern take on a classic 5-pocket style. Made from unwashed high quality Japanese selvage fabrics, with classic and refined details. These details include a unique selvage zipper and hand-stitched green vegetable tanned leather patch with embossing.
What’s your favorite piece from the collection?
That’s our classic 5-pocket design. This 13 oz. sanforized selvedge denim has been dyed with a natural indigo and sourced from the Kuroki Mill in Okayama, Japan. These jeans feature a unique Japanese selvedge zipper, hand-brushed gold button from Italy and a hand-stitched green vegetable tanned leather patch with embossing. It is also the inspiration for designs in later collections.
Whats your favorite place to shop for denim in Amsterdam?
There isn’t a particular district to shop for denim, but Tenue de Nimes is definitely one of my favorite shops for denim in Amsterdam. They offer a good collection of modern and traditional denim and there is a beautiful mix between product and interior. Every store carries jeans these days, but not all of them have the staff to get you the right pair.
To find out more behind the brand head over to the official site.
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