Text Ilona Marx Photos Rainer Rudolf
In fashion circles, Amsterdam is regarded as the capital of denim and not just since the organisers of jeans trade fair Kingpins decided to stage an event there, following on from their success in New York, Hong Kong and L.A. The fact that a selection of the most illustrious denim weavers will be attending the premiere event in the Westergasfabriek venue is just another indication of what the industry already knows: in the fashion alphabet A is for Amsterdam, closely followed by D is for denim.
Part of the reason why the robust blue twill is so popular in the Netherlands is the mentality of this traditional trading nation: our European neighbours are practical people – although when it comes to design perhaps somewhat less than us Germans. And this also influences the design of everyday objects. Fashion, furniture, architecture – of course the functionality of an object is primary. But who’s going to complain if it looks good too? And that brings us to the look that the Dutch prefer: classic but with a modern twist, functional of course, a little bit retro, but still timeless, not too extravagant, certainly beautifully made – and preferably also produced in a politically correct way: ecologically sustainable and fair trade. All of these attributes apply in various measure to the denim brands that are rated as the Big Five in Amsterdam: G-Star, Denham, Kuyichi, K.O.I and Blue Blood.
Tommy Hilfiger and Pepe Jeans also see Holland’s secret capital as an important location, one from which Scotch & Soda takes on the whole world. Which is also an indication that the blue gold can really unfold its true potential here. And we shouldn’t forget to mention the House of Denim – Platform for Craftsmanship and Innovation in the Denim Industry. Part of this institution founded in 2009 is the world’s first ‘Jeans School’, which offers courses by industry experts and the so-called ‘Indigo Embassy’, an international expertise exchange. Previously without its own fixed location, the ‘House of Denim’ will finally be opening its ‘Denim City HQ’ in Amsterdam this summer. There are plans for an up-cycling company, a denim archive and also a sustainable washing facility.
So it’s clear that denim is big news in Amsterdam. This Cool Cities special compiled over several warm spring days by editor-in-chief Ilona Marx and photographer Rainer Rudolf shows the most important denim hotspots. Extensive interviews with the scene’s movers and shakers give us an insight into what is currently state-of-the-art there – and where the fashion journey is headed. But despite all this enthusiasm for the omnipresent blue: in order to stop boredom creeping in it’s always important to think outside the box. So we didn’t just stop at putting together a list of the best denim stores, but also added our all-time favourites and the best new additions in the fashion, art, culture, interior design and gastronomy sectors. After all, in addition to D for denim there’s a whole other 25 letters in the alphabet just waiting to be discovered.