Saturday, June 27, 2009


Passion of ownership. Like the scene in Quadrophenia when the Pete Townshend character as just washed his jeans in the bath. A great moment in cinema and a cool reminder of the boyish pride we're allowed to take in maintaining stuff in the right way.

For us the right way goes easy on the shrink effect since skin tight, at least on men's jeans, isn't what we're after. But washing your jeans the right way absolutely brings them to life, magnifies character and personalizes the fit. Ali had worn his long enough that they were nearly able to walk around on their own, and that's about the minimum time to wait before washing if you want to generate the best character lines and natural color contrasts afterwards.

Here's our advice. It's easy: 1. Cold water with natural soap powder. 2. Invert your jeans and slide them in. 3. Hand wash and enjoy the process, work the fabric, swish 'em around, exercise a little finesse. 4. Dump the soapy/dirty wash-water and reload with another helping of cold cold water as a rinse. 5. Rinse the same way you washed. 6. Handwork the jeans as they're submersed. 7. Pull 'em out, wring them out, turn them back the right-side-out and hang them vertically to dry. 8. -But before you walk away and let science, nature and evaporation do their thing, take one more pass at handworking the damp jeans into shape. Work through the seams and creases, shape the legs and get 'em expressing the attitude you like. 9. Then walk away and let nature take its course.

OR... Follow the technique of Sir Bob of Butcher of Blue (and Denham) who puts even more punk into the process. Check it out HERE

Friday, June 26, 2009


The fact good jeans are an investment is dumb-obvious. If you're reading this blog, you already know that. The fact that there are so many ways to look after that investment, with so many different possible results, is partly what makes denim culture such a kick-in-the-pants.

About five years ago, James Harlan came across an abandoned shack near the Dan River above Greensboro. Instead of South Carolina ginseng Harlan found himself rooting through a tobacco sharecropper's trash and hauling home a pile of worn-out denim covered with wasps' nests....

The Harlan Find was commemorated in the A-Life designed mini catalog, FOUND. It's a remarkable thing. Among other things it managed to use pictures to teach a particularly dignified approach to home-repair. It's a technique we were already familiar with having examined it as it appears on specimens in the DENHAM GARMENT LIBRARY.

You could call it a "darn-type" and it uses a spiral stitch and backside patch to repair wear areas with a forthright rural dignity. We use a machine 'cuz we have one but it's based on a hand-stitch technique.

Jason managed to grind through portions of the heel cuff roll on his Tapers (remember, a couple of the guys ran them 9 months straight without a break), and took the opportunity to demonstrate the process here in the atelier.

Not as flashy and trashy as an LA rock-star. -But different strokes for different folks. We like both extremes depending on the mood. More important is that the TAKING CARE ethos makes living in any pair of premium-quality jeans a dynamic and one-of-a-kind experience. Hell yeah.

Monday, June 22, 2009


We told the story of the 1 Kilo Melton "Medic" style for men which will be landing here as part of the new Fall collection. At some point it occurred to us that 100 pieces of 10cm x 10cm would constitute 1sqm of fabric. It also occurred to us that if we placed those 100 pieces all on top of each other, it would make a pretty thick and soft stack of melton. And finally, that this stack would weigh the same kilo of the original 1sqm piece.

So we tried it.

This gives some impression of the quality's substance and character.

We also keep telling the story of our regular use of traditional garments as starting-off points for design from our own archive, the DENHAM GARMENT LIBRARY. On a recent trip abroad we stumbled on a gorgeous men's battle-dress or "Ike" jacket that reminded us why we chose this melton in the first place.

A design-standard for the British Royal Navy, this specimen carries all of the original tag documentation attached via a lead seal (still intact) indicating that it is to be used as the design-reference for tailors and producers who were expected to create this style for serviceman. This is an essentially a 3-dimensional design file issued by the British Admiralty. It also bears the names, dates and signatures of those who had "signed it out" (like a library book) in order to ensure design consistency and reliable quality. The piece was issued by the Admiralty in 1946.

Combine the sheer quality of the fabrication with the authenticity of an original archive and you've created exactly the right platform from which to progress your own designs forward. That's how we see it anyway.

For Fall the journey that started with these ideas resulted in a range of styles in both the men's and women's collections. Each model is built with as much combined style, attitude and integrity as we could muster and all of it will be here before we know it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


We promised we'd start leaking out some love stories for Fall 2009 since it'll be delivering in the not-too-distant future (and because we're stoked about the progress it represents and we can't wait to start banging our pots and pans).

We go on and on about the DENHAM GARMENT LIBRARY and the crucial importance of an archive. You can't build something strong on a weak foundation and, for us, the archive and the combined tradition and craftsmanship it teaches us represents that foundation.

But we're also not about managing the reproduction of one-to-one replicas of old garments. We readily confess our deep admiration for many of the brands who are busy with that idea in the emerging "Otaku" scene because some of them demonstrate great taste and good quality, but the direct approach isn't exactly our bag.

We'd prefer to try and pick up where our predecessors and contemporaries may have left off and try to push things forward.

Arriving in the Fall collection is the new CUSTOM jean and it's a good example of this ambition. Taking inspiration from German field pants of the 1930's blended with detailing from American hunting pants from the 50's and new ideas from contemporary wintersport designs, the CUSTOM strives to create progression by folding diverse influences together into a rugged modern jean model for this millennium.


Below we posted a piece about our upcoming exhibition of the SPY BORO series at Bread & Butter Berlin.

The girls weren't the only ones cutting into found fabrics and repurposing them into new designs. After all, that's supposed to be the mantra around here. Worship Tradition, Destroy Convention.

One of the legends of the birth of modern jeanscraft is the story about American workwear tailors crafting pants out of the tough fabric intended for tents during the Gold Rush and the expansion West. There are other stories but the central notion of making clothing from fabric intended for temporary housing is what inspired this other exercise in re-purposing to be dislayed in Berlin.

Also developed as a limited edition for Spring 2010 the MEDIC INTEL employs reclaimed 3-Layer Gore-Tex Dutch Marine "bivouac" sleeping-shells which were taken apart in order to create a variation on the new 1KILO MELTON MEDIC which is soon landing in shops for Fall.

Like the Gold Rush canvas tents before them, the Dutch Marine Bivouacs contain all the rugged fabric-features required to produce a tough utlity garment and the MEDIC model provided the right tailored starting-point.

The construction introduces new ideas like a buttonhole-free buttoning closure and the employment of a biker's bi-swing action back as well as traditional techniques like felled seams...

Gore insists on seam-taping but we won ourselves a little creative latitude by using repurposed material (in other words we did it without asking). In fact, the traces of the original taped-seam assembly are visible within our reconstruction, the ghost of the fabric's first life showing through.

(NOTE: This is a use of Gore-Tex fabric that didn't go through the usual channels and we're still not sure how you "market" a jacket with this feature when it wasn't a sanctioned Gore project but we assume we'll find out soon enough)

Also like the Boro Spy jackets, these won't be in front of consumers until Spring 2010 (sorry about that), but they will be on show earlier at July's Bread & Butter event.


Despite the promise of her family name, Barbera can't rest. In fact, none of us really can. Here's why:

We just launched Spring 2010 to the trade and are busy preparing for it's showcase at Bread & Butter in Berlin. There's lots going on for next Spring, but then again there's a boat load of new stories and details a little closer at hand in the form of the Fall 2009 collection which will be appearing in shop before we know it. Since we don't mind confusing blog-readers we'll be sharing some news on both. For Fall there are stories pending like the 1KILO MELTON.

But the reason Barbera van Rest can't rest right now is that all 10 of the limited edition Boro Spy Jacket samples she worked on for Bread & Butter have arrived in the studio. Obviously only a few DENHAM retailers will be getting examples of these when Spring 2010 hits the stores (in what will seem ages from now), but more folks will get a chance to see them during the upcoming event in Berlin where they'll all be on display.

Each style is cut by hand from one-of-a-kind genuine Japanese Boro textiles. Boro refers to the culture of itinerant workers in Japan who, like American sharecroppers during the heyday of original denim culture, created handstitched work clothing which demonstrated high levels of resourcefulness and artisan facility. Fabrics were sewn together from scraps and dyed in natural indigo (very like Blue Jeans). Patch and repair work is also done by hand and the tones, textures and pattern-play is unique in the world of indigo.

Beyond tying to the spirit of authentic sharecropper denim in several ways, this project also ties to the wider culture of Japan itself where much of the world's best denim now comes from. Original narrow-loom machinery was purchased by the Japanese when America moved to mass-production and the Japanese have been evolving the high-craft element of denim production ever since. DENHAM is partnered with inspiring collaborators in Japan and we employ Japanese selvedge denim in key styles and core models throughout the collection.



Spring and Summer have been playing a little hard-to-get recently. Morning chills and surprise thunder-showers, but that's part of Amsterdam's charm. The temperature inside our store next to the studio here has been heating up steadily regardless of the weather outside and a bunch of the Spring styles have sold-out. The phenomenon makes us glad we were able to do so some re-ordering but it also has us thinking about the first Fall deliveries which will begin to drop at the end of next month.

Because we have the patience of 2-year olds, we're gonna start talking a little bit about the coming Fall in some new entries here. This is the first of those.

If you're lucky enough to find a Melton wool quality that is dense enough to measure a full kilo when a meter of the stuff is thrown on a scale you get to call it 1-KILO MELTON.

We've developed a fabric meeting that standard and used it to create a focused range of outerwear styles for Fall.

For instance, the MEDIC men's sportcoat.

The style was inspired by a WW2 POW-Medic's traditional sportcoat from our DENHAM GARMENT LIBRARY. We worked to update the concept while paying respectful homage to the utility, ruggedness and natural sense of swagger of the original. The Medic along with the other 1-KILO MELTON styles will be unleashed in the shop as Fall begins to land.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Princess Maxima opens 'Arnhem Mode Biennale' with a pair of scissors from DENHAM

Opening Arnhem Mode Biƫnnale 2009 from HotKitchenOven on Vimeo.

In fashion there's maybe no better symbol of the crucial importance of collaboration than a pair of tailor's scissors. Two blades working together to cut clean graceful curves through the most rugged country cloth and the finest silk. The 'Arnhem Mode Biennale' manifests the spirit of this metaphor, representing Culture and Industry working together on the platform of fashion,
for which Arnhem has become world renowned thanks to ArtEZ and the international profile of its graduates.

Jason Denham's new DENHAM label celebrates a similar interaction.
The brand concept could be described as "two blades of tradition and innovation working together". This idea is manifested beautifully in a pair of antique French tailor's scissors from the DENHAM GARMENT LIBRARY. The pair was used by Princess Maxima when she officially cut the ribbon and opened the Biennale this Friday 5th of June.
The event, which creates a stage for designs from more then 80 international designers, was a perfect outing for the classic French blades. Securely returned now to the DGL, we're proud they were of use for our Princess and the Arnhem Mode Biennale.