In the heart of Amsterdam denim lovers can find their mecca: Denim City. The project was initiated by the House of Denim foundation, which is known in the scene for organizing projects such as Jean School, Global Denim Awards, Amsterdam Denim Days, Laundry Days and the Indigo Embassy sessions.
Coming from a maxim of educating the denim professionals of tomorrow, Denim City operates the Denim City Academy that offers short, in-depth courses developed for professional audiences from junior to expert level. Whole teams of retail, design, production and wholesale backgrounds attend the courses to learn more about a unique fabric. The Denim City Academy has already welcomed team members and university students from C&A, Bestseller, Inditex, Peek & Cloppenburg, G-Star, Shoeby, Jean Centre and Erasmus University, among others.
During the upcoming Denim City Academy summer school, denim lovers get five days, starting on August 28, to acquire more knowledge about denim as a fabric. Courses about the history of denim, laundry and design techniques prepare participants to make a custom pair of jeans.
Sportswear International talked to Harm Magis, director of Denim City, about what awaits participants at this year’s summer school.
When and how did the idea for a summer school format by Denim City Academy emerge?
After setting up Jean School we have set up our Academy in 2016 for short courses for professionals from the industry. We started with a Denim 101 course as an introduction and we have developed a number of modules which we can teach in one hour up to one day. From our experience in training a lot of international teams we combined a theory part with a workshop of making your own jeans, so learning in class and by doing.
How is the summer school’s program structured?
The first two days are theory and seeing a lot of examples and garments. In these two days there are several smaller tasks to learn certain skills. Then we have a laundry workshop where you wash with wash legs. On Wednesday we start with a pattern class and then you start to make your own jeans. Step by step we help you with cutting your pattern from your selected fabric up to finalizing your jeans.
Denim City has different facilities available, including the institute, workshop, archive and Blue Lab. How will those be incorporated into the summer school program?
All facilities are included and will be used during this course, including the laser and ozone equipment.
What are the learning objectives for participants?
Depending on the level of the class, students learn the basics about denim fabric, production of jeans and finishing. We normally get full classes of companies or universities where we aim to have similar work experience together in one group in order to maximize the level of the course.
Who is the typical summer school participant?
This would be a junior or mid-level buyer, designer, merchandizer or people from any other department who deal with denim or have an interest in denim.
For the biggest part of the five-day summer school participants will develop a custom pair of jeans. What are challenges and opportunities of that task?
Learning by doing! A classic five-pocket jean seems easy to make, but denim fabric has many difficulties and challenges. Only by doing people find out what these are which help them in their day to day jobs to understand better the difficulties and possibilities for themselves and their factories and suppliers.
What have you learned from previous Denim City Academy summer schools?
That we should make time to create several moments to have people reflect on their own jobs and each have different questions. By sharing these people are learning even from colleagues and other students. Besides this it is about the level, which is always a challenge for our teachers who have 30+ years of denim experience to find the right balance in the level of each course.
Are there any future plans for the summer school format?
We would like to expand it to a course of a couple of weeks up to a month.
Denim city aims to educate the denim professionals of tomorrow. What, in your opinion, makes a qualified denim specialist?
Denim is a fantastic fabric which is so different from regular fabrics which is often ignored by people who are new in the industry. A qualified denim specialist understands the fabric, how it’s made and understands what the possibilities are, keeping the limitations of denim in mind. For retail staff this is different than for developers and designers, of course. In general, people should know and understand how it’s made as well as know and understand the vocabulary.