In fashion there are trends, denim clearly being no exception. But, in the Netherlands, something has been building: more than a jeans craze, bigger than a look or a fad -- it’s a movement -- a full-fledged denim crusade led by Mariette Hoitink and James Veenhoff. In 2010, the two founded the House of Denim, a Dutch government-backed denim program, headquartered in a refurbished train depot called Denim City. It has grown to offer an esteemed denim school with a year long educational program that works in conjunction with the industry’s key players including stakeholders, brands, producers, mills, launderers, academics and students.
House of Denim is on a mission to connect and inspire the denim industry’s avant garde.
“House of Denim is on a mission to connect and inspire the denim industry’s avant garde, to lead it to ‘a brighter blue,’” says Veenhoff. “In simple words, we are making a coalition to clean up the denim game.” And that vision can’t be kept to the small, progression Netherlands. It needs to stretch its arms, branch out and recruit. And that is why, last week, Los Angeles, a denim hub in its own right, was treated to an outreach visit by Hoitink, Veenhoff and the HoD team. LA notables showed up in droves. Attendees included Adriano Goldschmied, stylist Arianne Phillips, Francios Girbaud, Paul Minestrella from ORTA and author Amy Leverton, to name a mere few.
It all might be nothing new for Holland, a country that has gained quite the denim reputation for years now. It’s home to the Kingpins show and brands such as Scotch and Soda, G-Star and Denham, to name but a few. Denim fits in with the Dutch understated attitude and active lifestyle and is likely the perfect pairing with Los Angeles. Home to labels such as Citizens of Humanity, AG, 7 For All Mankind, Mother, Current/Elliott and J Brand, the list goes on and the City of Angels is always hungry for more. Perhaps it’s time for a joining of indigo forces. HoD couldn’t agree more.
California was the birthplace of jeans
“Our team is doing some ‘denim diplomacy,’ spreading the bright blue gospel, inviting more people to join our movement,” Veenhoff continues. “We need denim to be cleaner by ending pollution and the use of toxic substances. We need denim to be dryer by ending the waste of water. And we need denim to be smarter through education and innovation.” Most importantly, HoD needs all of us, in cities throughout the world, cities that care about their contribution to the world’s favorite workwear and one of our most cherished fashion staples: blue jeans.
House of Denim treated Angelenos to what they called the Indigo Embassy, a day of roundtable discussions, informational talks and a shared meal, intended to result in a fruitful collaboration between the denim communities in Amsterdam and Los Angeles. “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss how collaboration can support talent, develop business, drive sustainability & innovation and take the industry forward towards a brighter blue,” the literature reads.
The team has just returned from Sao Paolo where HoD is already in talks with Brazil to launch its own branch. “When we started, Mariette and I always envisaged a future in which all the key capitals would be connected, maybe have ‘denim city’ chapters like the one in Amsterdam,” says Veenhoff. “LA, NY, Sao Paolo, Amsterdam, Milano, Istanbul, Delhi, HK, Osaka, like a selvedge across the planet. To our surprise, Sao Paolo moved first. A team of entrepreneurs called us, amazing industry people. They found a super cool venue and they have a great coalition of brands and mills being set up. We will almost certainly open next year. The kickoff event was a crazy success. We expected 10 brands, over 60 turned up.”
As for Los Angeles, the event was packed with interested parties and collaborative minds. “Maybe the timing is right,” says Veenhoff. “California was the birthplace of jeans. Its only logical that denim rebirth is big here, too.”