With more than 50 pairs of jeans to her name, founding a denim-only boutique was the logical step for Erin Fridja to turn her passion into a retail business.
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Erin Fridja founded boutique Bad Denim in east London two years ago, based on her own love of all things denim. With brands including Neuw, Levi’s, Current/Elliott and Kapital, the boutique sells only denim, in a collection carefully curated by Fridja. She talks to Drapers about the fabric’s timeless appeal and versatility and the inspirations behind founding the boutique she calls the “denim-only den of your dreams”.
What is it that you love most about denim?
It’s just such a versatile fabric. It’s not really precious – if you rip it, you can patch it up and it just gets better. The more you wear it, the better it hangs. When it’s raw, you don’t see what it can become in time.
Why do you think jeans are so timeless?
People just keep coming back to blue jeans. The fabric isn’t something you have to think about too much. You just throw it on and you’re ready to go.
What trends are you most excited about at the moment?
The past few seasons, we’ve seen a lot of cut-off hems and released hems – stuff going on at the bottom of the jeans. That’s an amazing one because it’s something you can do to a pair you already have: chop them off give them a new length.
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How many pairs of jeans do you own?
In my wardrobe right now there are maybe 50. I need to organise them. It’s a sprawling pile – really I don’t have the wardrobe for it. They’re all special. I don’t have any I look at and don’t wear. My husband and I are moving to Hastings soon and part of the reason is probably so I could have a giant wardrobe just to store my collection.
Why did you decide to launch your own shop?
I thought there wasn’t a space that women could go and get the same kind of advice that you find in men’s denim shops. I’ve been working in the industry for about 10 years, at places such as Victoria Beckham and MiH Jeans, doing development and production. I wanted to use that background – the understanding of manufacturing, of product and fabric to select the best jeans from each brand and create a little delicious denim hut.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned since opening?
I opened a retail shop having zero experience of retail: all my experience was in product. Someone told me, when you’re doing a buy, try everything on yourself – things can look amazing on the model, but it’s good to see them on a real body too.
Is it an exciting time in denim at the moment?
Definitely. I hate when people say talk about a denim “trend”, but denim is everywhere. People recognise that a good pair of jeans really is the basis for an outfit. Also, the material is in dresses, tops … really interesting things and giving that structure to different looks. It doesn’t have to be just jeans.
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What kind of service do you offer?
It’s a small shop, so when people come in we really talk to them about what they’re looking for in their jeans and we do alterations on all our jeans if necessary. It’s really about getting to the bottom of what people are looking for and talking about what you can wear them with. It’s a massive challenge for the shop that we only sell denim. I can’t merchandise things in with the full look, I have to talk people through how they can wear things.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Hanging out with my two cats – Mavis and Zooey – and my husband.
Favourite clothing brand?
Kapital – the way they make the garments, everything is just so beautiful. The whole concept of each collection is so fully thought through
Favourite places to shop?
Etsy and eBay are incredible. In Tokyo, the vintage shopping is great
Last fashion purchase?
MiH Lou jeans in black
Last book you read?
The Unlimited Dream Company by JG Ballard
Last film you watched?
I saw Tickled, which is a documentary about professional ticklers.
Working at a Greek Restaurant called Olga’s Kitchen: I was a front of house hostess.
In university I had an internship as a reporter and I worked at a magazine. I’d love to do that again.
My Fashion Life: Erin Fridja, owner of Bad Denim