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John Park

Natural Selection Denim’s founder talks to Graeme Moran about his Darwinian inspiration and expanding into womenswear.

You set up Natural Selection Denim in 2009. Tell us about the brand and the idea behind it.

The idea of a creative collective came first. A group of us wanted to do menswear with integrity and with little compromise. My passion and specialty being denim, Natural Selection came about because we saw that the ultimate, no-compromise jeans could be made within budget to compete at existing premium denim price points.

When did you first fall in love with denim?

I have an obsessive personality and got swept up by the denim and vintage whirl in Japan in the mid-1990s when I was working out there, in a field totally unrelated to fashion.

Which is your favourite pair of jeans?

My first ever Natural Selection Denim jeans in raw Kurabo 14oz gave me the most excitement and pleasure.

What makes the perfect pair of jeans?

No matter what price level, the priorities have to be fit, cut, construction and the best fabric you can afford. After that it’s pure subjective opinion.

Where did the name Natural Selection come from?

Natural Selection is the mechanism for evolution first written about by Charles Darwin. I came up with the name because of the multi-layered concept behind it, namely British, evolution and ruthless competition. Also, 2009 was Darwin’s 200th birthday.

What can you tell us about the autumn 13 collection?

It establishes the ‘foundation myth’ of washed and distressed denim. The theme is Anglo Persian Oil Co, the first giant oil company. It’s our version of the US pioneers of the West Coast that establishes the brand DNA for washed and distressed indigo looks. We also are now a full collection brand while playing with indigo’s beauty in various tones.

Would you ever do womenswear?

Yes, definitely. I think there’s room for a women’s line done in an uncluttered, clean way. We’ve started sourcing fabrics already.

If you could see anyone, alive or dead, wearing Natural Selection, who would it be?

This is such an awkward question and usually you try to name the coolest person you can think of. We’ve had celebrities from footballers to Hollywood actors wear our jeans but I get blown away when I see strangers in the street wearing it. I’d love to see more of that. OK, Johnny Depp.

If you weren’t working in fashion what would you be doing?

I admire creativity within technical excellence so I would love to have been a chef or an architect.

If you could only shop in one store for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Liberty.

What do you do at the weekend?

I catch up on reading, news and spending time with my two daughters. I also love cooking.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“The key to happiness is low expectations.” One day I’ll follow it.

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