Premium denim brand Denham has chosen trendy Shoreditch to open its first UK standalone store which, like the product, is big on small details
How many times have you heard the mantra ‘retail is detail’? It’s usually used in reference to an uninspiring space that makes you wonder if you’re missing something, or if the wool is being pulled over your eyes and the person uttering it has a low opinion of your critical faculties.
Occasionally, however, you come across a store that restores your faith and Denham is an example of this. Located on Charlotte Road in modish Shoreditch, that part of London which long ago swapped sweatshop privation for ad agencies and creative types, this is a small denim and casualwear store that serves as a temple to detail.
It is the third Denham store - the first opened in Amsterdam, the brand’s home, last year and was followed by a store in Tokyo in June. The Shoreditch store opened in October and, as well as being a single-floor shop, the three floors above it are occupied by an office and showroom.
The decision to locate the store in Shoreditch is obviously something of a statement of intent about positioning, and the fact the brand is among those stocked by 14oz, the denim specialist in Berlin, speaks of a highly considered approach to distribution. Denham is a premium brand but it is the London store’s attention to detail, at all levels, that shows why this should be the case.
Further stores are planned for Paris and Düsseldorf. You can’t help wondering whether brand founder Jason Denham changed his name so it sounds comfortably close to denim.
Key looks and merchandise mix
Modern vintage may be the best way to encapsulate what’s on sale. The offer is split roughly 50/50 between men’s and women’s product, although sales are split 70/30 according to a member of staff, who says that as the collection has no overtly feminine elements it is easy to think this store is just for men.
And as denim and workwear are central to the brand, it’s worth noting the pared-down number of jeans styles used. Cutter, Grade, Skin, Filter, Tapers, Apache and Mohawk are the names given to the shapes on offer for men, with prices ranging from £139.99 to £349.99. The bulk of the denim is Japanese, which it has to be when the price is considered, although the Mohawk chino style is worthy of comment, if only for the fact the fabric has been taken from ‘disassembled’ Dutch army tents.
For women, it’s Skinny, Clean, Waister and a few others, including the almost inevitable Boyfriend, with a variety of washes across the range.
More generally, whether it’s an ecru and navy horizontally striped sweat jacket for women or Medic Nationale, a ‘re-cut’ linen single-breasted jacket for men, its the detail that really impresses. This is apparent for instance in the tiny pearlised buttons used on some of the women’s shirts, which carry an image of a small pair of scissors (the brand’s logo) and the camouflage pocket bags on the retro-style Mohawk chinos.
Everywhere you look, the strapline ‘The truth is in the details: worship tradition destroy convention’ is used. There seems little reason to disagree.
The butcher’s hook has become a standard visual merchandising trope in fashionable denim stores and Denham is by no means immune to the trend. The perimeter is filled with hanging merchandise, all suspended from hooks that hang from the faded gold handles of pairs of scissors, picking up on the cut and re-cut theme central to the brand.
At the back of the shop there are four-thread overlockers, used to personalise the jeans on demand, which also emphasise the workwear nature of the brand and are display pieces in their own right. References are also made to the fabric link with Japan, including an antique glass cabinet that contains Denham-branded bottles of sake. These are not for sale, although given the level of interest they generate, it’s hard to believe they won’t be at some stage.
Elements such as Victorian-style brown glass medicine bottles for men and women’s scents, housed in antique dark wood cabinets, also add to the sense of detail.
In the mid-shop, clean white tables serve to highlight the stock that is displayed sparingly on them.
One of the nice things about this store is that it may be aimed at trendy Shoreditch denizens, but all-comers are made welcome. Product knowledge is impressive, not just for the stock in the shop, but also for what will be in-store over the coming weeks and months.
A customer who was being served was offered practical advice on which style of denim would be most appropriate - this was certainly about selling, but it was carried out on the basis of understanding what was wanted and what would be suitable.
Denham starts with the inherent advantage that it has chosen a good-looking building in an historic east London street. Step inside and the interior is perfectly in tune with Shoreditch’s rough luxe aesthetic. Practically, this means stripped and untreated wooden floors, exposed brick walls and a minimalist approach to colour (meaning white). There are plus marks for the lighting, however, with a high degree of natural daylight.
Would I buy?
Buying a high-priced pair of jeans is always a test of one’s fashion mettle, as the obvious temptation is to go mass market and not be swayed by the detail for which you have to pay a hefty premium. That said, if you like what you see in Colette in Paris or 14oz in Berlin, then this one will probably also appeal.
A store for the denim and workwear cognoscenti that allows those for whom such things matter to spend time marvelling at how much detail can be applied to a pair of jeans and associated merchandise. The store looks good too.
Address 32 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London EC2
Opened October 14
Number of floors Four, but the store trades from the ground floor only
Denim used Japanese
Brand positioning Premium
Reason for visiting The detail
Brand logo A pair of scissors
Founder Jason Denham