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My fashion life - Thorsten Bulander

Duel Denim’s head of design moved to Lancashire to try and fulfil his mission of creating the world’s best jeans.

Thorsten Bulander

Thorsten Bulander

Thorsten Bulander joined new Lancashire-based men’s denim label Duel Denim as head of design and product development in July 2014, helping to launch the brand at London trade show Jacket Required. The German-born former creative manager of Boss Orange denim is channelling his passion into the brand, which already counts independents John Anthony in Bristol and The Old Jeans Store in Truro, Cornwall, as stockists.

What sets Duel Denim apart from other jeans brands?
I believe brands are getting lost by trying to cover everything for everybody. Duel Denim stands for quality and craftsmanship. The brand is going back to the essence of garment manufacturing, separating the jean in its single form and rebuilding it piece by piece in the ‘modern original’ way. We focus on the reason why each jean is included in our collection, no compromises. [Wholesale prices range from £20 to £36.]

Why did you decide to join the brand?
Simple: the challenge.

You used to work for Hugo Boss - what’s different about the two brands?
You can’t compare them to each other. Hugo Boss is a huge corporate structure with about 10,000 employees all around the world. Its organisation is like a massive steamboat. We are a small sailboat, flexible, individual and fast. Decisions are made in a short time frame. If we believe in a topic our focus is on getting it developed as fast as possible.

You’re expanding your collection from 10 washes up to 18 for autumn 15 - can you give us some clues as to what these will include?
We increased our washes to give a statement in each fit to complete our collection. We have included rigid selvedge, stretch selvedge, dark blue indigo, vintage blue and black denim in stretch and rigid. All our denim fabrics are from mills in Italy and Turkey.

What do you think will be the next big denim trend?
People are talking about black denim with ecru weft being the next big trend. But when you really analyse it, this was never out of trend. We believe in black denim but in variations [such as] stay black, black selvedge, washed-down black, high-performance stretch and, of course, rigid. Stretch denims for men will continue to be strongly represented in the market but I think the key will be to keep the look authentic and rigid. Regular and straight fit are getting more relevance in terms of trends and we have a new modern straight fit with a slim leg opening.

There has been a big focus on skinny fits for both women and men for quite a while now - do you think this trend will stick around?
We offer a skinny fit in our collection called the Waske, and you need to keep the skinny fit, but our style and wash offer is going to be reduced to only three washes including a stretch selvedge option. But the slim fit Hiryu will be our key fit, [updated] with a regular waist, slim fit at the thigh, tapered leg and slim-leg opening.

What other denim brands do you admire?
No admiration. I want to make Duel Denim’s jeans better than anybody else’s. That’s why I’m here in the UK, in the heart of Lancashire. I found the right team, which has the same beliefs as me.

In your opinion what makes the perfect pair of jeans?
Choose the best denim, combine it with the right design and most comfortable fit then wash it perfectly.

What are the biggest mistakes other denim brands make, in your opinion?
Compromising on quality to achieve a better margin. If the brand has quality then price is usually too high. We are different to them because we offer quality at reasonable prices. We focus on ourselves, improve every day and get the best results. No rest, keep going.

Denim fans sometimes say you should wash your jeans as little as possible. Is this true?
It depends what kind of result you want to achieve. To get it faded as soon as possible wear it and wash it every day. Wash as little as possible to get the best individualistic and unique results and give the jean a unique personality. In fact, Never Wash is the name for my raw jean in the autumn 15 collection.

What’s the longest you’ve gone without washing your jeans?
At least one year. There are some possibilities to not wash and remove the smell after that long. Put it in the fridge, in the oven or just hang it outside, for example.

How many pairs of jeans do you own?
I have 537 pairs and increasing daily at Duel Denim.

What’s the most money you’ve ever spent on a pair of jeans?
I don’t spend money on jeans. I spend my time and energy on constructing my own pairs. It’s my passion.

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