Drapers gives you an exclusive sneak-peek of our Close-Up with Jason Denham, founder and owner of denim brand Denham, ahead of the full interview in this weekend’s edition.
Did you always want to work in fashion and denim in particular?
Yes. Since I was a kid I was always creative. I went to university in Manchester, where I studied fashion and I was always doing jeans. I managed to tailor-make every college brief they ever gave me to get denim in. When I left there, the first job that I had was working with the designer Joe Casely-Hayford on projects like making jeans for U2. It was a great introduction to what the fashion world was like, but I wanted to get even more into the jeans world. Then I got the opportunity to work with Pepe jeans in London which was amazing – there’s a lot of great denim people in the industry that have come from there and I was [then] re-located through Pepe Jeans to Amsterdam. I planned to come here for six months and work for Pepe but after [that period] I realised I’d fallen in love with the city and I’ve been living here now for about 17 years.
Despite the brand being based in Amsterdam, do you consider it to be a British label?
The brand is very international but it’s also definitely very British because the key part of the design team and the people here are British. What’s nice about it is that we also have Dutch, American, French and Japanese people [in the team]. We have a great combination and I like to have [that international] influence. I think it’s very important to travel and to learn different things – that’s a big part of the ingredients for our brand.
What do you think of high street denim?
I think there’s room for everybody. I think there’s a lot of bad denim in the market and that’s cool because it makes my stuff look [the] best. But I think there’s also a lot of great product and the high street keeps brands like us on our toes. If you look at the market today, it’s amazing how many options there are for buyers. When you walk into Bread and Butter in Berlin and that huge denim hall, it’s a daunting task. It makes me very proud when we get into retail stores because we appreciate that they have the space for only a limited number of brands, when there are hundreds in the market.
How do you go about making new jeans every season, keeping them exciting?
It’s a great question and [one that] a lot of people have asked me. One of the things that really inspires me is history. I travel a lot to vintage stores and markets all over the world. I’m often in Spitalfields in London picking up old uniforms and old vintage pieces for example. We’ve bought back jeans from customers who have had them for five years and they look amazing for the way they’ve worn them in. So we buy them back or swap them for another jean and use that as an inspiration to create [new] ones.