Dec 06, 2018 | By Jane Boddy
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Mar 14, 2018
As longtime friends of DENHAM the Jeanmaker, we were stoked to hear about the brands 10-year celebrations that would be taking place at Pitti Uomo in Florence back in January this year.
The premium denim brand marked the occasion with a special party to showcase the year-long program of special events and product launches that the team has planned for everyone to enjoy.
“Celebrating the 10th anniversary of DENHAM is an incredible milestone for our brand,” said Jason Denham, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of DENHAM the Jeanmaker. “Our ‘Decade of DENHAM’ program is a nod to my greatest passions and inspirations that have shaped the brand. I’m honoured and excited to partner with some of the brands and people who have influenced me most throughout my career.”
Some of the milestone celebrations to expect include 10 collaborations, known as the 10 Special Projects, released throughout 2018. These include special edition Japan-exclusive Converse Jack Purcells, a furniture collection with NORR11, a capsule collection with iconic English heritage label Barbour, a Japanese indigo sake, and even a collaboration with a French perfumer. The 10 Special Projects speak to the label’s values, as well as Jason Denham’s own individual tastes and eccentricities.
Another celebratory highlight set to excite fans is a coffee table book, A Decade of DENHAM, commemorating the brand’s decade-long journey in jean making. The new publication follows on from where Jason’s, Denham: 5 Years in the Making book left off. The 10-year edition serves as a narrative of stories and people that have helped build DENHAM into what it is today, nurturing it from its humble beginnings into an international denim brand. Narrated by Jason Denham and spanning 512 pages, the anthology features over 800 images encompassing all things DENHAM: jeans, scissors, retail, staff, collections and more.
We caught up with Jason Denham and Art Director of DENHAM, Ali Kirby, to find out the story behind the Decade of Denham and to hear some of their favourite moments at the brand over the 10 years.
Jason: The denim business has shifted massively in the past decade. 10 years ago we were in the midst of the heritage boom. This was great as it taught everyone about quality – in those times, we only talked about quality, but today the buzz word and rightly so is ‘sustainability’. It’s great to see how much the denim industry has cleaned up on a global scale in the last decade. The speed of our business has gotten faster and faster, largely down to consumer demand driven by innovation from the denim mills and social media. “We see it now so we want it now” is the message of today’s consumer.
Ali: For the 5-Year Book, we set out to highlight the mechanics of the brand – how we build the product and how our ideas were formulated. Five years in, but it still felt like the formative years of brand building. These ideas set the foundations and have enriched the brand with stories and values over the decade.
The new book continues the story-telling journey but captures the emotion of the brand. Supporting Jason Denham’s text with a visual narrative that flows over a decade of memories and personal touch points. Product is key, but we also made a big feature on the people that make Denham. The Denham stores and store staff, from Amsterdam to Japan, people on the shop floor who are instrumental in the brands success.
For the production, we wanted to capture the essence of denim fabric in some way. Natural blue linen was used for the cover, with the warp slightly lighter than the weft to imitate the characteristics of denim. DENHAM jeans are made in Italy using Candiani fabric – Candiani is the ‘greenest mill in the world’ so we chose FSC Certified paper to reflect our efforts in making sustainable denim.
Printed in the Netherlands, the book was co-published with Mendo Book store in Amsterdam, working with Dutch printers and technicians, supporting a local expert economy. Holland has a rich history of book printing and binding and their skill is evident in the two-colour text printed around the book sides. Each book side was hand-printed twice, which is an art in itself.
Ali: As Art Director, one of the challenges has been keeping control of the graphic identity as the brand evolves. It’s been a fantastic journey – having the freedom to create whatever feels right, before learning how to police and manage the identity as the brand grows.
My role at DENHAM started with the logo design and has covered nearly all of the 2D graphics since: book design, product design, packaging, labelling, photography, T-shirts and logos. So the visual changes for Denham graphic design have also reflected my own skill set as the brand, and I, have matured. Ideas change and evolve, so the 10 Year Book allowed me to reevaluate certain parts of the brand and represent it with fresh content.
There is a big section on scissors and scissor art in the book. The one constant grounding for the Denham visuals over the decade has been the scissor icon. I use the scissor as a starting point for nearly all the DENHAM graphics.
Jason: Yes, there have been many great milestones. Some of the great notable moments are included in the 10 years book, such as opening our first stores in Amsterdam and Tokyo. Rin Tanaka from My Freedamn books & Inspiration show LA cut the tape with us and was also our guest photographer on our first collections. It’s been a huge pleasure to work with all our house guest artists and collaborators from Anthony Burrill – “work hard & be nice to people”, to Barbour International for the upcoming winter 18 collection. It was also very humbling to connect with my hero’s Adriano Goldschmied & Paul Smith.
Jason: We will keep doing exactly what we have done for the last decade, meaning building the brand with wholesale, offline & online channels. Asia and northern Europe have always been key focus regions for the DENHAM brand. We’ll have 30 stores in Japan by the end of this year, continuing to grow with the same spirit and energy since the 1st store opening in Daikanyama. China is growing quickly, too. We will have 20 stores by the end of this year. Korea will be next where we will open our first store in Gangnam in Q2.
The wholesale model is growing in focus markets in Northern Europe and key international cities with dedicated attention and partnership activations. In the next 3-5 years, we aim to move the HQ to a bigger location, which will better support our creative needs, headcount and activities in Amsterdam.
The product line will never stop evolving however premium 5 pocket Jeans will always remain the core of our business model. We recently launched the ‘Jason Denham collection’, pieces inspired by iconic archive models made in the most beautiful materials and loaded with ‘the truth is in the details’. We are excited to see this line evolve as the signature of our brand.
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