May 30, 2019 | By Louise Squire
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Sep 24, 2018
Ulrich ‘Ubi’ Simpson, a veteran of the denim industry, was inspired by sail making and traditional, Japanese dying when creating his successful denim brand UBI-IND.
Innovative processes and a range of cuts placed the distinctive denim line on the map for denim enthusiasts. Now, you can add more UBI-IND durable denim to your collection – to your kitchen, specifically. In 2014, Ubi noticed a gap in the market – an absence of durable, cool-looking kitchen products that also serve their purpose? It didn’t take long for this denimhead to cook up his next denim masterpiece and thus, a timeless collection with modern function into the kitchen and dining room was born.
WGSN caught up with him to get the inside scoop on how UBI-IND Mi Cocina came to fruition.
Denim has reached so many categories, it’s safe to say this is one of the first denim collections we’ve seen made for culinary purposes. How was it born?
About five years ago my wife and I had our daughter, Gabriella. As new parents, and in my education into becoming a modern dad, I found I was constantly burning myself, doing tons of laundry and household chores. In one of those frustrating moods, I said to my wife “why hasn’t someone figured out this whole kitchen issue?!” I’d gone to all the major shops and looked online, and didn’t get why everything was white or light grey? I just wanted something we could both use — simple, timeless, easy to manage, clean, and durable. That’s when I got the idea.
What made you look to denim for this collection? What is the appeal of denim?
I’ve worked in the denim industry for over 22 years, for brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Diane Von Furstenberg, Pepe Jeans, and Theory. I started my company UBI-IND in 1999, after leaving my post as the Design Director at Tommy Hilfiger Jeans. I’ll give you the same answer I gave myself— no other fabric has the versatility that denim does. No other fabric can hold up to extreme wash. It is heavy enough to withstand and becomes softer the more you use it. In terms of function and design for the kitchen and home, it’s the perfect match. Currently, there is a resurgence of small craft brands that are doing some amazing things. I’m lucky to be a part of organisations such as SFMADE, that support local manufacturing and businesses, to get projects off the ground.
Tell us about the UBI-IND MI COCINA products and its benefits
I wanted to create products that could be used every day, but also invoked a sense of style. The COCINA kitchenware line is designed to protect from heat. We work with a current US company that supplies us with the batting and the technical fabric to insulate the gloves. Everything is made in San Francisco, and the wash processed in Los Angeles.
Why decide to show this collection at the Liberty trade show in Las Vegas?
To be honest, I was apprehensive to do the show. I had just spent the last few months doing the craft show market around the country, so fashion-driven retailers were the last thing on my mind. I had been working with Calik on a partnership for a chef wear line, and they asked me to join the show. The products and projects I tend to go for are those that can solve a problem. Of course, all the products have a style element inherent within the design, but our new denim mill partners, Calik Denim, asked me if I would like to join and get a kickstart on the project.
Now that denim has covered everything from fashion to home goods – in your opinion, what do you think the future holds for denim?
I’m just scratching the surface. With Calik, we’re working on some new collaborations, like the chef wear collection that is water-resistant, which I am looking forward to. It’s exciting to have a mill with the same type of enthusiasm and forethought for design and for the customer. It’s a great time to be a designer working with denim.
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