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Journal de Nîmes Nº 13

THE AMEKAJI ISSUE DECEMBER 2016 Tenue de Nîmes THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE

WWW.TENUEDENIMES.COM IN THIS ISSUE:

DINNER WITH JESUS AN INTERVIEW WITH MARIA ERIXON

MARCO BONZANNI A DENIM REVOLUTION

TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN LINE

ABEL VITA ODOR BRINGING SCENT TO LIFE

REE PROJECTS BY DESIREE KLEINEN

PRINTED ISSUE € 10,-


COLOPHON

PUBLISHED BY

TENUE DE NÎMES

EDITOR IN CHIEF Menno van Meurs menno@tenuedenimes.com

Tenue de Nîmes info@tenuedenimes.com

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CREATIVE DIRECTION AND GRAPHIC DESIGN Julian Röbling julian@tenuedenimes.com

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COPY DIRECTOR SOPHIE KNIGHT SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR Rene Strolenberg rene@tenuedenimes.com

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WE ARE OPEN Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

SOPHIE KNIGHT COPY DIRECTOR Sophie studied social and cultural anthropology before moving to Tokyo to work as a journalist for a major Japanese newspaper and Reuters. She moved to Amsterdam in 2015, where she now works as a design researcher and freelance writer.

OLIVIER VAN DER HAGEN WRITER While initially looking to continue his corporate career, Olivier did some soul searching and left the bank he had been working for. During his self-imposed sabbatical, he met his neighbors, Tenue de Nîmes and a friendship was quickly struck up as he finally found people who were passionate about their jobs. Before long, he was editing the Journal de Nîmes no 3, 4, 6 and this issue, as well as writing several articles, his own passion. He is now a freelance writer, contributing written pieces to at least one other magazine besides this one at the time of going to press.

SOPHIE EBRARD PHOTOGRAPHER Born in the French Alps, Sophie is currently based in Amsterdam and London. Self-tought, Sophie chose photography after working for more than 10 years spent in advertising. As photographer and director, Sophie works mainly with analog processes and uses medium and 35mm format cameras to maintain her soft and natural visual style. Her photographs are as eclectic and full of life as she is. Sophie was first a beloved customer who became part of the Tenue de Nîmes family and thus began a collaboration for the launch of Tenue de Nîmes own line of male denim - Pablo Memphis II jeans. www.sophieebrard.com

12/19 11/19 11/19 11/19 11/19 10/18 12/18

SHUNJI OHASHI SPECIAL CONTRIBUTER Shunji worked at Japanese brand Kapital for seven years, spearheading their super special and laborintensive Kountry line. He now lives in Amsterdam and works for G-star, designing denim outfits for Pharrell Williams, while on the side running his own company StudiOHA under his artist name OHA.

RICARDO GOMES PHOTOGRAPHER Ricardo Gomes, born in Madeira island is a portrait and lifestyle/ photo documentary photographer based in Paris. After studying visual arts found photography as his main expression, support and interest. The black and white and the romantic lines are very explicit and inspiring on his work. www.ricardogomesphotography.com Special thanks to: DAVID HULTESJÖ PHOTOGRAPHER NUDIE JEANS

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JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


INTRODUCING AMEKAJI

MARCO 'PAPA' BONZANNI

DINNER WITH JESUS: MARIA ERIXON

THE 501 JEAN

P5

P7

RED WING WOMEN P12

JACQUES GROSZ

P50 P56

OMEGA SEAMASTER P58

HANDCRAFTED MODERN P 60

P14

ABEL VITA ODOR

JAPAN : IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION

FADE TENUE DE NÎMES

P64

P626

P16

HUMAN MADE P22

TEMPLE MARKETS & HOPSAKÉ P24

REE PROJECTS P70

TOKYO SHOPPING P72

EDWIN JAPAN P74

WASH INSTRUCTIONS P30

ALDEN X TENUE DE NÎMES

CONVERSE INDIGO CHUCK TAYLOR P78

EVERT GROOT - ÉTOFFE UNIQUE

P31

P80

TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN

TENUE DE NÎMES PLAYLIST P82

P32

KAPITAL P38

W. DAVID MARX AMETORA P40

TENUE DE NÎMES HAARLEMMERSTRAAT P44

DENIM & REPAIRS P54

JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

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UN DERC OVE R by J U N TA K A H AS H I

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SO O N AVAIL A B L E AT T EN U E DE N Î M E S

JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


INTRODUCTION / Amekaji

Introducing

‘Amekaji’

WRITTEN BY MENNO VAN MEURS PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK CLEMENTS FOR MEN’S FILE

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n Japanese, ‘Amekaji’ is common parlance for 'American Casual’. According to our friend and Journal de Nîmes contributor Anneke Beerkens: “The concept ‘Amekaji' includes everything American from sneakers to western boots, from dungarees to oversize t-shirs”. This Journal de Nîmes is a tribute to ‘Amekaji’, because the concept has been an important source of inspiration to us while we were creating our Tenue de Nîmes denim brand. In this issue, the 13th Journal, we take you back to Japan of the 1950s and 1960s, when the seeds of Amekaji were sown by Kensuke Ishizu, founder of VAN and champion of Ivy League style. Our new contributor Sophie Knight was fortunate enough to interview W. David Marx, the author of a new book called ‘ metora’ (a similar contraction of “American Traditional”) in which he traces the history and the influence of ‘American Cool’ in Japan. To unravel the concept of ‘Amekaji’ we looked for concepts and stories that somehow embrace the concept of the American 'original’. In May this year we travelled to Japan to build the foundations for Tenue de Nîmes ‘Made in Japan’ denim line. The first stop was the Yokohama ‘CLUTCH' tradeshow by the good guys from Men’s File: Nick Clements and Taka Okabe. It was at that show that Nick made these two portraits of Rene and myself and we are stoked to be able to use them for this Japan-flavored Journal de Nîmes. During our trip to Kojima, we came across some of the oldest mills and factories that we can now say are among the most skilful denim facilities on earth. In our article 'Tenue de Nimes Made in Japan - Kojima Factory and Laundry’ we show you the first stage of our exclusive Japanese Tenue de Nîmes denim line.

JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

On top of that, I introduce you to our good friend and Japanese denim mentor Marco Bonzanni, who formed the backbone of our first Tenue de Nîmes jeans and is our most important fabric supplier. His powerful, yet simple advice to all designers and brands in this industry is that someone can best protect their territory by simply making sure they make nothing but the best. If that’s true, we better get to work! The magic of a single piece of Japanese denim fabric was also the basis of this issue’s key-note: an interview with Maria Erixon, co-founder and Creative Director of Nudie Jeans who explained how one fabric and the desire to be independent, formed the basis of one of Europe’s most inspiring denim labels around. In this new publication we are also excited to share the the hottest Tokyo retail pit-stops with you. Our Tokyo reporter and illustrator Luis Mendo drew a beautiful Tokyo shopping list for you to explore, while the article 'Tokyo mornings' will hopefully get you to wander around some of the best Tokyo antique-markets too. And if you wish to learn more about the basic principles of vintage shopping before you go there, make sure to read our interview with Parisian vintage expert Jacques Grosz first. We will also highlight some of the most inspiring brands that successfully created the most sought-after product in Japan. First of all, Human Made by Nigo, the reclusive genius behind A Bathing Ape, or BAPE, the Japanese streetwear brand who will drop the first Human Made pieces to the Tenue de Nîmes store in February 2017.

On top of that, we are proud to announce UNDERCOVER by Japanese mastermind Jun Takahashi will hit the stores during Spring ’17 too. As our friend Anneke Beerkens once explained to us: Japanese people try to see the beauty in things that have been torn apart, in asymmetrical and imperfect things. This imperfection is in fact the true beauty of most things: it emphasises the natural side of things, rather than the artificial. Therefore we felt it was time to touch base with Evert Groot too, who we consider to be the 'Dutch King of Linen’. Evert puts denim to the test and teaches us about the beauty of linen and his second love: hemp fabric. This whole Japan journey led to some important answers to the question of what we should surround ourselves with to provide both us, and the Tenue de Nîmes product, with true meaning and authenticity. To me this trip gave us exactly the right nudges to realize what our Tenue de Nîmes brand should be about: on the one hand, the basics of classic American (functional) clothing that lasts and gets better after wear. And on the other hand, the ‘Japanese’ sense of perfection that makes ‘Amekaji’ relevant in the 21st century too. Or as David Marx would probably put it: You need a bit of Japan in order to save American style. Well, if that is completely true, the circle is completed. Let’s further explore the best of both worlds!

Special thanks goes out to Sophie and Shunji - This issue would have never been the same without you guys!

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INTERVIEW / Maria Erixon

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JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


INTERVIEW / Maria Erixon

DINNER WITH JESUS

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARIA ERIXON CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT NUDIE JEANS WRITTEN BY SOPHIE KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID HULTESJÖ

A mong the calming white-walled studios at Nudie Jeans’ headquarters, one corner room is painted black. Stuffed with objects and artifacts from around the globe — calligraphy, taxidermy, pyramids of paper, esoteric books and snatches of fabric — it’s more of a lair than a studio. This is where the magic happens for Maria Erixon, co-founder and Creative Director at Nudie Jeans. Erixon and her brand have been at the vanguard of denim since 2001, pushing the envelope for rigid, unisex, ethically produced denim. And yet for all the good the brand does, they’re almost shrouded in mystery, disdaining traditional marketing and advertising techniques. Tenue de Nîmes managed to pin down the ever-elusive Maria, who sat down with us in her studio for Nudie’s 15 year anniversary to talk about where her brand, her life, and the industry are at.

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INTERVIEW / Maria Erixon


Nailed to the wall outside Maria’s room is a sign that says VAR ÖDMYUK, which means “Be humble” in Swedish. This commandment has guided Nudie from the beginning, and is evident in everything from their production to marketing to the stores’ aesthetic and the staff’s personalities. It’s there in the decor of the brand’s HQ, too, which embodies that peculiar mix of bohemian warmth and punk rock attitude that Sweden does so well. Refashioned from a former bank building, complete with the original vault, the high-ceilinged rooms and marble stairs could feel oppressively opulent, but instead the studios feel cosy, verging on shabby: there’s threadbare chairs, uneven tables, and forests of pot plants. A collage of Polaroids on the wall remind the staff of their humbler origins: their previous cramped office with a kitchen where nothing worked. We get a tour around the studios, including a sneak peak into the collection they’re currently designing, before having lunch with the staff, who eat out of tupperware on an enormous vintage trestle table. And then it’s time to meet Maria. It’s with a sense of mild trepidation that we tiptoe into her room. She’s such a force in the industry, and we’ve admired her from afar, but we don’t know quite what to expect, since she never really gives interviews. But from the second we walk in, there’s not an ounce of the diva or the recluse we might have feared; she’s warm, open and funny. “I’m just bored of repeating the same old story,” she says, in explanation for why she refuses most media requests. Which is a shame, because the story remains fascinating no matter how many times you hear it. Maria started Nudie with her then-husband, Joakim Levin, and another childhood friend, Palle Stenberg, in 2001. At the time she was living in Brussels and working for Lee. Having tried to resign from Lee three times —“first because I didn’t want to drive in Brussels because the traffic was crazy, secondly because I found it difficult to work with the qualities I was seeing” — she finally quit for good when she fell in love with a selvedge fabric from Japan’s Kaihara mill that was too expensive for Lee to use. She took a small piece for herself that provided the seed of inspiration for Nudie. With that, she moved back to Gothenburg with a highly unusual aim for someone setting up their own company: to work less and to start a family. “I didn’t want to be on the ring road in Paris, I wanted to have an office in the city centre and be able to walk or cycle there,” she says. 8

“We wanted to be independent and come back to Sweden and have children.” And so Nudie was launched without a strategy or written plan; the only principle was to enjoy doing what they were doing, to have a good balance in life, and to be independent. Upset by the outsized influence of shareholders at public companies she’d worked for previously, Maria consciously pushed back against external interference that she thought would steer Nudie in the wrong direction. Once, when a distributor tried to push them to get bigger and get more investment so they could expand further, she snapped. “I got him a t-shirt that said, ‘Start your own fucking brand,’” Maria says, laughing. “If the driving force had been that we should become super rich then we would have grown super fast and then exploded at the end of it.” Of course, nothing went smoothly in the beginning. One of the cuts in her first collection was botched in production — “It was a disaster, I was crying in my bed like a newborn baby” — but then they sold out at the first fair they took them to, with buyers clamoring for more. “The fit that was a disaster turned out to be the Nudie look, actually. Because it had a crotch that was anti-fit, and it turned out that was the kind of bum that guys liked at the time. So to me it was a disaster, but to the market it was even better than we could have hoped,” Maria says. Taking things at their own pace enabled Nudie to be stubborn about quality and ethics from the beginning, even though the company didn’t like to shout about it. (One staff member referred affectionately to Maria as “the mother of stubbornness” when talking about how fiercely she pushed for ethical standards). Nudie relied more on word-of-mouth than marketing campaigns and still uses friends for photo shoots. And their impressive ecological credentials are taken for granted. Of course every pair of jeans, every shirt, every sweater is made of 100% organic cotton. Of course some of it is Fairtrade. Of course a huge chunk of it is made in the same Italian factory as the past 15 years. And of course they offer a free repair service in stores to ensure a longer lifespan for their jeans. Why wouldn’t they? That’s Nudie’s attitude. Unlike some brands, this is not a marketing ploy. As Maria puts it, their team member in charge of social responsibility is not just sitting in the marketing team, they are in the production team. JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


INTERVIEW / Maria Erixon

“It’s about having it at the starting point. You always have options when you start a brand: either you want to do it cheap and make lots of money, and therefore you do it in Bangladesh. Or you want to do a quality thing with people who have knowledge, and you want to do it in Europe where you know the wages are quite similar to where you live,” she says. “It’s before you start the brand that you have to make these decisions, because if you decide your price and take it to the market, then you are locked into that price segment. It’s hard to change production after you’ve started.”

The selection of organic cotton was quite limited,” she says. “But now we can talk to anyone. If they want to do business with us, they have to buy organic cotton and make 5,000 metres just for us, and they do.”

Nudie now manufactures in Italy, where they’ve used the same factories since they started. Choosing to produce in Italy isn’t only for ethical reasons, however. There’s also the way that Italian manufacturers speak the same language in terms of quality, according to Maria; the way you can specify the feel, the cut, the minute details — and they understand, instantly.

“I think denim is taking more responsibility than fast fashion. We tailor fabrics according to your size, or we repair them, or we take old vintage jeans or remake them to another fit.”

“Sometimes in other countries you say, ‘I want it to feel exactly like this old worn-in pair of jeans, and you get something different, and you tell them so, and they tell you, ‘It’s not different, this is what you wanted’. It’s not about speaking the language, it’s all about what you see. But in Italy it’s very easy to have that conversation,” she says. Yet manufacturing exclusively in Italy would mean a much higher price tag on Nudie’s clothes, so they also use a factory in Tunisia, where quality is still high but costs are lower. Maria says it’s sometimes tough to balance her desire to position Nudie as a premium brand with the responsibility of sustaining the brand at its current level and keeping sales and margins steady. “If you want to stay in Italy you need to increase the price. But we also have an economic responsibility to all the people working here, from the truck drivers to the designers working with us. It’s a huge responsibility.” When they started, Nudie was a pioneer in ethical working practices, and was well ahead of the pack. It was difficult to buy organic cotton and to thoroughly check standards at suppliers. But the industry has improved over the past decade with the emergence of the Fair Wear Foundation, which whom Nudie now works with to ensure that their suppliers’ wages, working conditions and environmental practices are sound. Nudie also works with the Textile Exchange, which supports the farming and trading of organic cotton, and the Chetna Coalition, an Indian NGO working with small farmers to improve their lives through sustainable cotton farming. “When we started working with organic cotton, a lot of the other brands were stopping it because they said the consumer wasn’t interested.” JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

Contrary to the bad press about denim in recent years criticizing the labor, water, energy and chemical-intensive processes required (particularly in distressed or bleached garments), Maria thinks that denim companies are doing better than other sectors of the fashion industry.

Nudie do their best to educate consumers about how their denim garments are produced, and how they can best look after them. They include a booklet with every purchase noting that consumers needn’t wash their rigid denim for the first six months — an instruction that sounded shocking and bizarre a decade ago, when rigid denim was a niche item. Many people heard about rigid denim for the first time from Nudie. Thanks to efforts from them and a few other players in the market, rigid is now rightly perceived as the most authentic (and eco-friendly!) type of denim you can buy. This change makes Maria happy, but she thinks it’s time for individuals to take more responsibility for their consumption habits: “The consumer shouldn’t buy so much shit. It doesn’t make you happy to buy more things every weekend.” That said, she’s not against cheap denim, per se. What she loves about denim as a fabric is that it’s accessible to everyone, and that its identity is fluid. “Denim is democratic, it’s from when you’re born til you die. It’s not for a special sex, it could be her or him or hir [an asexual pronoun],” she says. “It doesn’t exclude anyone, any class. You can buy it at a low or high price, and it’s still a kind of uniform, which I think is a very democratic thing. Denim also gets more beautiful the older it gets, which is the opposite of the fashion industry which mainly takes photos of very young people. That’s the opposite of denim, which gets more beautiful with holes and rips. No other clothes has that ability.” And yet, while it’s timeless, she also sees constant evolution in both the fabric and in the industry. Not so much in technological innovations — she has no interest in ‘sportswear’ or ‘performance’ denim, nor the newfangled ‘wearable technology’ being explored by some brands, which she dismisses 9


INTERVIEW / Maria Erixon

as “too anxious about the next thing” — but in terms of new blends of natural fibres, new cuts, and even the changes in denim weights as climate change wreaks havoc on the traditional seasonal patterns. “Even up here in the north, we had 30 degrees in September. How light or cold can we be in denim and still be Nudie jeans? It will be our mission to figure that out,” she says. And then there’s the increasing androgyny in jeans cuts. When the brand started, a slim jean was considered ‘skinny’ — now they’re called a regular fit. Skinny jeans for men simply didn’t exist. And now stretch denim for men is a forever expanding market, while more and more women are buying rigid denim. “It’s going back and forth. My boyfriend’s jeans, my girlfriend’s jeans. It’s merging more and more,” Maria says. This explains why Nudie only offers unisex jeans and has never named or marketed any of its jeans specifically for women. “Most men are very interested in one specific thing, whether that’s it football or a brand, they know everything about it. Women are not, in most cases. They are more interested in wider things. That’s why I like to work with unisex jeans, because you get a very passionate consumer. We always had a male aspect, but we’ve started to be a unisex brand. I think having the male silhouette also attracts women more,” she says. “It doesn’t sound politically correct to say, but I don’t want to have women’s input because they always want to change things, they see the potential in everything — from their partner to their house and clothing and their body. They see the potential to change in everything, whereas men are more purist.”
 This purist focus is evident in Maria’s design and aesthetic. While she clearly relishes an unorthodox, open attitude — her chaotic black den being a case in point — she believes that to be creative, one needs strict limitations. “To me being creative is about finding a small little box. For me, that’s the five-pocket jean. I like that boxy way of thinking because it challenges you to think, ‘Where can I make a difference?’ And there’s not that many options,” she says. “So, I started with the back pocket. Tobacco stitch is taken. Okay, I’ll take orange. Everyone else has one or two stitched lines, so, okay, I’ll take six. What about the cording? Let’s make it double.”

brands are doing — “When you’re my age and you’ve been travelling so much for other companies, you’ve seen so much vintage you have a library inside” — and so she instead delves into her memory and her other interests to spark ideas. Such as: what would Charles Bukowski wear if I was to dress him today? What do Russian red flowers have in common with Guns ‘n’ Roses? She then puts together an idea book for her design team, filled with things designed to stimulate other ideas. “Sometimes they go off in a completely different direction. That’s okay, but I force them into a box. Morgan [Sundberg, Design Manager] doesn’t like vintage or hard rock, but I force him to think about retro, the future, sci-fi, and how that influences the future,” she says. And of course, with Nudie, a lot of creative spark comes down to music, which runs through the brand’s veins like their trademark orange thread. This is a company whose staff are nearly all “failed musicians”, according to one of them. Bands and artists such as Little Dragon, Band of Horses, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Dylan LeBlanc have played at their launches or spontaneously turned up in one of their stores asking to play a set. And Joakim, another of the three founders, is a drummer who used to play in punk rock bands and co-owns Pustervik, Gothenburg’s biggest and hippest live music venue. The musical influence lives on in the office, too. We hear that staff sometimes blast music that would be considered “way too loud” at other workplaces; and we witness a couple of people picking up guitars to strum a few chords at their desks to take a break from the screen. In fact, the whole office seems like one big enviably chilled family. While we were there, someone’s child played on the sofa behind them as they worked, while other staff left during the day to go and pick up their children from daycare. So Maria has definitely reached her aim of having a company where people can have children and work less — an almost miraculous achievement for such a global brand. Perhaps it has something to do with being in Sweden, where the society puts huge emphasis on work-life balance and shared child-rearing. But it’s also something to do with the decisions Maria and her co-founders made at the outset. “We didn’t want to have a big brand, to be workaholics. Everyone working here needs to have a life outside of work. You are not able to sit here after 7 o’clock. Otherwise you don’t get anything new into the company. You need to have a relationship or an interest…. you need people who don’t have a stressful life on

For Maria, the creative process takes place inside her head. She no longer feels it necessary to travel or to keep up to date with what’s in fashion or other 10

JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


INTERVIEW / Maria Erixon

the side, who think it’s still fun to work,” says Maria. She finds it sad that this attitude makes her an exception rather than the rule in the fashion industry, but admits “I used to worked like an idiot and I’ve seen a lot of idiots.” Now, she feels that she’s reached a more stable and happier phase in her life — one in which she can take a step back and enjoy other interests, such as renovating houses in Italy. “I think we have different phases. Your definition of quality of life depends whether you’re 20 or 30 or 50. When you are between 30 and 45 you’re in the builder phase, you’re building a family, finances, career. It’s quite stressful, it’s not a very balanced part of your life. Then you come to another phase of life where you can find balance. You don’t need to prove yourself and you can cause happiness by bringing other people in with your brand... It’s time to be happy and see other people growing, and that is giving me more happiness than saying I’m doing everything myself, because I’m not, anymore. I find it very hopeful and it’s interesting to see that the company is also very organic today. They are helping each other.” The Future So where next for Nudie? They have just released the Bloodline collection to commemorate their 15th anniversary: three pairs of jeans each using alternative natural fibers mixed in with the cotton: bamboo, hemp, and paper. Maria is fascinated by how innovations in living materials such as wool, cashmere and paper will push denim, and clothes in general, into a new era. And then there’s a top-secret sibling brand in the works, which she described as “provocative in terms of things that are happening politically” which will stand as a “paradox” to Nudie and prevent it from being outdated. Other than that, her lips are sealed. “I don’t think I have an answer to what the future will be for the brand. I’m curious to see what will happen. There’s so many things that are happening, world politics, so many things that could go completely wrong or completely right,” she says. However, she’s clear that she and the other founders will never give up Nudie’s independence and sell the company: “Joakim and I had a joke that if we ever stop doing this, instead of selling it, we could have a story about how we stopped making jeans and why we did it. The undoing of it. That would be the most fun and interesting thing if we stopped: to undress it, unravel the story.”

JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

One question remains: why the humility? When you’re doing such good things, why not shout about it — particularly in today’s social media-driven world, where it seems that you won’t be heard if you don’t try to speak above the rabble? We’d already heard from another staff member that Nudie’s desire to be humble derives partly from its roots in Sweden, where the mentality is that “You’re not better than anyone else, so don’t think that you are.” Bragging goes somewhat against the national character. But Maria has a more personal take on it. “When I went to high school I became a Christian. Or rather, I say I became a believer. And people didn’t believe me, they said, ‘You must be drinking, or doing drugs’, and so on. I realised that just because I believed something it didn’t make me perfect. It was just I wanted a new part of myself,” she explains. “The same thing happened when we decided we wanted to be sustainable. If you say we want to do this or that, we still might not achieve it, and we still might not be the best. It’s quite easy to say we’re 100% organic, but then people say ‘But you’re not perfect at X or Y’, to which we say, ‘Of course!’ We are not the best at everything, but our intention is to do the best we can.” Has her faith made her more aware of being responsible? “I don’t think so. I still believe, but I keep it very personal and I’m not part of any Church today. I realised there were lots of people saying, ‘I’m more Christian than you because I have more belief than you,’ and putting others beneath them. I didn’t like that, so I left the Church,” she says. “I went to see Ben Hur with my 10 year old and they showed Jesus in one part. I would love to have dinner with Jesus, he is super sympathetic, and has nothing to do with making people feel small. We’ve lost that, even though Churches have the best intentions.” Maria then tells us about a dream she has: to train people without education who can’t get a job and employ them at Nudie’s repair shops. She likens it to the second-hand charity shops run by religious groups which donate their profits to the needy. We say it sounds like she’s going vertical — how very 21st century — or perhaps as if she is starting her own church? “I didn’t like my Church, so I started my own! A blue and orange Church.”

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SPECIAL RELEASE / Red Wing Women’s Collection

Red Wing Heritage Women’s Collection

Written by Menno van Meurs Photography by Jelle Rietveld Muse featured: Adeline Rapon

Red Wing Shoes started making women’s boots back in the 1920s, but then

stopped doing so in the 1960s. Since then, most women have had to acquire men’s shoes in very small sizes to be able to wear the brand. Those women in the 20s were pioneers of their era: forget about long skirts and corsets, it was short hair, pants and boots from then on. But there is good news for their descendants in the 21st century too: our beloved Red Wing Shoe Co. just released a special line for women! In September 2016, Red Wing Shoes decided to re-launch their women’s line in European cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin and London. The brand based the collection on those same strong women from the 1920s, but added a 21st century sense of style. The Red Wing ‘muses’, as the brand calls them, are strong and independent women: artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs who not only get the job done, but get it done right. Red Wing would not be the brand they have been for 111 years if the women’s collection was not all about quality. By combining the finest leathers and quality materials with uncompromising craftsmanship, Red Wing’s women’s collection continues to build upon a legacy of USA-made excellence so that the boots built tomorrow are as enduring as the boots built 100 years ago. We are proud to announce that, together with the ‘Red Wing Shoe Store Amsterdam’, Tenue de Nîmes are the preferred stockists of the Red Wing Women’s collection in Amsterdam. For further information, check out www.redwingamsterdam.com.

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SPECIAL RELEASE / Red Wing Women’s Collection

The Red Wing ‘muses’ are strong and independent women: Artists, creatives, and other successful entrepreneurs who not only get the job done, but get it done right.

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Interview / Jacques Grosz

Meeting with Mr. Vintage:

Jacques Gros

Written by Menno van Meurs Photographed in Paris by Ricardo Gomes Could you introduce yourself? Tell us all about who you are and what you do.

Do you believe vintage is ‘better’ than non-vintage? Please explain.

What is your favourite decade where it comes to vintage? Which items are characteristic for that period in time?

My name is Jacques and I live in Paris. I am in charge of the men’s vintage section of Kiliwatch.

There are two answers to this question. In terms of the quality (meaning fabric, zippers, rivets, stitching and construction) it used to be so much better. The make in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s was far better than it is now. Until the 70s clothes were made by fantastic artisans in countries like France, Germany, the UK and Italy. Clothes were made for functional purposes - they would last a lifetime. Now people make clothes based on a price.

For me the best decade is the 1950s, which I find the golden era of elegance! I love the fits of the jeans and jackets from that time.

Before Kiliwatch I used to work in the fabric business. I was in charge of the fabric to support French retail in private labelling. At the same time, I played as a DJ for nearly 20 years. I played any kind of music you can dance to. Reggae, hiphop, house music, jazz — there is good music everywhere. I had some great opportunities to play with my personal heroes, like Toots and the Maytals and the Beastie Boys. But at the age of 45 I stopped, to give the spot to the new people. How long have you been in vintage business for? How did it all start? I have been working in the clothing business for many years — my first job was at the age of 17. When I was young I used to go to the Clignancourt Flea Market with my parents to spend a Sunday morning together. My first purchase was a patched ‘flare’ jeans that my parents bought for me. You have to understand that vintage back then was for young students, hippies with a little bit of money.

But then, to be honest, if you solely look at ‘quality’ you can buy the best ‘new’ jeans in Japan. They managed to make jeans better than the original has ever been. If someone is not experienced in vintage shopping at all, which five basic principles should they always be aware of when searching for vintage? The first and most important rule: Be yourself! And then: 1. The shop is important. The atmosphere should be right. 2. The salesperson must be credible. He can’t lie. Knowledge is key!

You are around the most exquisite vintage every single day. Does it ever get normal?

3. Price is also very important (You have to pay to buy ‘real’ vintage, but not too much).

We have a delivery each week of between 1000 to 2000 pieces. So it’s Christmas every week! It’s the same kind of feeling that I had with my vinyl records. At the peak I owned 10,000 records. It’s a very strange feeling. Every Monday when I unpack deliveries I am like a kid in a candy store. That never disappears.

4. Make sure it is an original (You should be looking at the tags, buttons, zippers, stitches and the fabric)

What is, in your opinion, the magic of a nice vintage garment? You buy something unique. When you go out of the shop you can be sure you will not find the same garment on the street. The uniqueness is pure magic. With my experience I can exactly tell you where something is from. That whole journey is very interesting. Take for instance an original ‘dead stock’ Brown’s Beach jacket. It is absolutely impossible to find and then all of a sudden… it’s there!

5. Buy it only if you like it (Not because it’s FASHION!!) Some people seem to believe that there the vintage wellspring is drying up. In other words: There is less and less true vintage. Do you feel that is true? Everything comes in cycles. But mostly each period, the older it gets, becomes more and more rare. True vintage is now hard to find, especially from the 1920s to 1960s, but when time passes, even 80s and 90s will become hard to find.

Jeans from ‘The Big Three’ of American denim: Lee, Wrangler and Levi’s are simply the best at that time. What is the most extraordinary vintage piece you ever had your hands on? The most extraordinary piece I ever had in my hands was a real Brown’s Beach jacket from the 1940s. It was never worn. Completely ‘deadstock’. It felt almost like new! You seem to attract a lot of famous fashion people to your vintage section at the shop. What was the best meet and greet so far? I met with so many great people over the last couple of years so it’s difficult for me to mention one name — but speaking with Paul Smith for the first time, as if we had been good friends for a long time, was a fantastic moment! Of course you are in vintage heaven every day, but if you were vintage- hunting somewhere else, where would that be? There are a few places to buy nice vintage in the world. I would suggest the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Los Angeles, CA. And of course there are some great shops in Japan, like for example Berberjin or J’Antiques. Which vintage piece should every woman own? And every man? Definitely a nice pair of Made in the USA Levi’s 501’s — for both men and women. Which product from the 2000s do you foresee will become the next generation’s most sought-after vintage? Which contemporary brand do you believe will be collected by our kids as the ‘New Vintage’? When I am thinking about what will be the next generation’s collectibles I think brands such as Obey, Supreme & Stüssy will be out there. The last two are already popping up in Tokyo’s best vintage stores right now!

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INTERVIEW / Jacques Grosz

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

Japan:

In Search of Perfection  WRITTEN BY SOPHIE KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY BY SOPHIE KNIGHT & RENÉ STROLENBERG

Tokyo can seem like a simulacrum at

times. An endless, relentlessly dense urban environment in which perfection,― or at least its pursuit , reigns. Even fallen leaves do not dare to sully the sidewalks. That everything looks so perfect is even more mystifying given Tokyo’s size. Infinitely refracting into the distance, it appears to be a city of mirrors, a kaleidoscopic melange of metal, steel and concrete, telephone wires, street signs, all covered in a maddeningly incomprehensible squiggy script. If you get up high enough ― say the 30th floor ― the view boggles your mind, the borderless expanse going even further than the eye can see. All of it weirdly impeccable: litter-free, freshly painted fences, unsmudged glass and artfully pruned trees.

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For fashion inspiration, there’s possibly no better place. The obsession with perfection, with ironing out each and every tiny flaw, extends to the way people dress. Everyone is immaculately turned out, whether they’re dressed as hippies, punks, salarymen or cosplayers: a precision and attention to detail, an absence of dirt unless it is required for authenticity’s sake. Collars turned just so and hair flawlessly styled with pomade or teased into perfect curls. What would look like a costume elsewhere — bright pink blusher, insane silhouettes, goldmine-era overalls — is everyday attire in Tokyo. Everyone, no matter how exhausted or old or penniless, seems to bear a special sheen that us oafish Europeans, feeling oversized and sweaty and frizzy-haired in the crazy humidity, can only gape at and envy.

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

The fun thing about the city is that it doesn’t have a center. It is a string of villages, each with their own flavor and unique fashion sense. From the flannel shirts and battered Converse to be found in Koenji, the up-and-coming and slightly kooky quarter of the city, through Harajuku’s sneaker district and Meguro’s sparsely located boutiques to the monochrome minimalism of Omotesando and the colorful, bawdy atmosphere of the old side of town and its antique markets: it feels like traversing a country instead of just one metropolis. Some of the best stuff is hidden, and intentionally so; there’s a big enough population and enough of an underground to have niche markets and a solid crowd of regulars to keep you in business without ever advertising or even putting a sign out front.

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Thanks to the Japanese obsessively trawling the clothing warehouses in America and Europe over the past few decades, Tokyo’s vintage shops are unparalleled. Want cufflinks from the ’60s with a certain insignia? A t-shirt bearing the logo of an obscure 1970s band? A specific edition of Adidas Gazelles? 1950s ballgowns? A Patagonia windbreaker from the 1977 A/W collection? This is the place. Denim heads, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. That 30”, 1975 pair of Levi’s you’ve been hunting for forever? It’s there, somewhere, buried away in the living museums that are Tokyo’s vintage shops.

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

But if Tokyo does vintage well, it does new even better. It takes classics like a white t-shirt or a pair of jeans or red pumps and a sports jacket and then shoots them out of the ballpark. The quality is so flawless; the stitching so spot-on. They survive washing and wear better than most. There’s something for everyone: whether you’re looking for an English tweed waistcoat or an S&M latex bodysuit, you can find it, if you know where to look. When Rene and Menno visited in May, they were shown around the city by friends and colleagues who knew the city well: myself (a seven-year veteran of Tokyo) and my husband Shunji (who’s Japanese and used to work as a designer for Kapital) as well as a few more friends and colleagues. Guided from boutiques tucked away on the 3rd floor of an apartment building to basement bars and through the warren-like streets to hidden oases in residential districts, they discovered a few more layers of Tokyo that they could never have found themselves. We came back from our Japan trip full to the brim of ideas, glutted with inspiration and excitement. In this issue, we share a little bit of what we saw with you.

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BRAND FEATURE / Human Made

HUMAN MADE

Human Made is the latest venture designed by Nigo, the reclusive genius behind A Bathing Ape,

or BAPE, the Japanese streetwear brand. Human Made’s more classic color palette may make it the mature older brother to BAPE, whose trademark is a bright and jazzy aesthetic, but both of Nigo’s creations are great examples of apparel brands hailing from Japan that take Americana as their starting point. Take Human Made’s college sweaters, for example. They look so American, but they’re not. American college sweaters are actually quite sloppy in their construction and stitching: the fabric is good, but they’re mass produced. The interesting thing about the Human Made college sweaters is that they use an equally beautiful and authentic fabric, but when you look at the construction it’s very Japanese: neat, tidy, precise stitching and cut. In essence, Human Made is one of those brands that confirms people’s suspicions that Japan actually makes things better than American brands ever did. The next Human Made collection will be on sale at Tenue de Nimes in 2017.

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BRAND FEATURE / Human Made

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TOKYO MORNINGS

TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

Temple Markets and ‘HopSaké’’ WRITTEN BY SOPHIE KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY BY SOPHIE KNIGHT & RENÉ STROLENBERG

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e’re up so early the beers from last night don’t seem to have worn off. Rene fell asleep with his hand in the box of liquorice he brought from Amsterdam, but Menno is fresher, putting together bowls of muesli and granola and making coffee with drip coffee filters from the convenience store that fold ingeniously, origami-style, over the cup. We’re all underslept, but buzzing in that strange way you do when you’ve only slept three hours and the excitement of the day is helping the adrenaline to kick in. Tokyo dawn is dizzyingly bright. It’s the quietest time of day -- the city rages all night -- ― and sliding through the silent, immaculate streets in a taxi feels surreal. A few raggedlooking, bleary eyed drunks stagger out of a bar and into the painful sunlight before the bar’s “Mama-san” bundles them into a car ― but other than them, and a few sprightly white-haired ladies and men striding purposefully through the streets for their morning exercise, the city is deserted. The point of this dawn expedition is to hit up some antique markets, known as “kotto-ichi” in Japanese, and snap up the best bits that are usually gone before the stalls are even set up. Bleary-eyed collectors, having driven their cars and trailers through the night from all around Japan, come to Tokyo’s temples once a month to sell their wares: vintage and boro clothing, furniture, crockery, memorabilia, coins and toys. Often casually laid out on top of a plain piece of cloth thrown across the gravel or pavement, to the untrained eye these stalls might not look like much. But a closer look reveals that some of these collectors are connoisseurs, in possession of the finest fabrics and best-kept secrets in the land. We are in search of some boro, the name for a certain type of vintage fabrics, patchworked, layered and worn scraps of cloth stitched together out of necessity in poor, frigid northern region of Japan more than 100 years ago. These fabrics, sometimes still lying in dormant piles in abandoned homes and buildings for eager-eyed collectors to discover, are utterly beautiful relics of the past and the source of much inspiration for the present. We head to a flea market in the older part of Tokyo first. The sun is still low and casting a soft light over piles of gorgeous kimono, red eyed Daruma, or one-eyed charms, and handpainted wooden dolls. We do a quick circuit, and hit gold almost immediately: in one of the corners of the shrine, a collector from the north is unpacking his boro wares. His collection of scraps, patchwork quilts and kimonos is simply breathtaking: rich, gorgeously faded hues of indigo, crimson and cream, intricate indigo-on24

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

white patterns, beaten and frayed and passed through so many hands that the layers have melded together and become one. It’s so hard to choose between them. We kneel on the ground and sift through the thick pile the dealer has laid carefully on the ground. First a pile of “possible” candidates. Then a further sifting through, more examining, sharing of opinions, and finally, a pile of “wanted”. ‘How much for these?’ And the deal is done. The dealer — quiet, bespectacled, humble — barely had to market his goods, but

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his quiet demeanour belie the goldmine of cloth. It’s incredible to think of the treasures still lying dormant in so many abandoned homes and warehouses in the north of Japan, musty with age and shiny with the patina of age. After that, as rich and fascinating as everything else is, it can’t compare. HOPSAKE! The sun is getting higher in the sky and casting harsher shadows now — the soft, velvety colours of the morning are gone. We decide to head to Tsukiji fish market

for the breakfast of champions: sushi and sake. Rene and Menno have noticed that “sake” (properly pronounced “sa’keh’, with the syllables as short and staccato as you can make them, rather than sarr-kay, the usual British mispronunciation) sounds a lot like the end of “hopsaké”, Dutch for “come on already!” Thus each glass -- the size of a thimble -- of sake on our trip is toasted with a cry of “hopsaké!”, much to the bemusement of Japanese onlookers.

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

Back to our breakfast. Through a concrete warren of little bars and shops, here a knife-sharpening stall, there a bag of smashed crabs, here a stall hawking bright-eyed glistening tuna heads, there a table piled with sweet rolled omelettes and fish eggs looking like orange pearls. We duck into a small sushi bar down a dark corridor, counter seats around a glass container of spanking fresh fish that stink of the sea. It’s 9am, so we order some beers and a bottle of sake, quickly followed by two more. We also order an array of set meals, which arrive on elevated

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wooden planks: three types of tuna, some squid, unidentifiable white fish, shrimp, seaweed. All of it delicious, mouth-melting, fresh and briney. The morning headrush from too little sleep, our market finds, the deliciousness of the mouth-wateringly delicious sushi, washed down with sake… it’s a perfect, mystical moment. Refreshed and re-energised, we head to our next stop, through a metro station with beautiful tile murals of ancient Japanese prints and those sheer-white fluorescent tubes casting a familiar Tokyo pall on our morning complexions.

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Inspiration

We did see one thing that made us want to return everything we’d bought, for a second an enormous, fat kimono known as a “donja”. Next stop, Akasaka. The sun is now high in the sky and the market stall owners lay out their sheets of cloth either side of the steep stairs leading up to the temple. With possibly the finest boro samples under our belt (and our budget exhausted), we take a rest at the top in the courtyard, where we discover a wedding is about to start. In this atmospheric setting -- the humidity and sake beginning to bite, the hushed mossy courtyard in the middle of this usually bustling and cacophonous city, and the rhythmic thump of an enormous taiko drum, it’s another perfect moment and an opportunity to witness a ritual that feels relievingly ancient in this very modern city. Monks in shimmering green and purple robes, carrying a crimson blood-red parasol, lead the shuffling bride in her kimono out in front of her family. Soon, they file away into another room for the ceremony and we decide to move on, to our third and final market in Yoyogi. Next to one of Tokyo’s biggest parks, a magnet for young people, practicing dancers and musicians, sunbathers, yogis and drummers, the place is packed. Time for some more hopsaké (canned beers and refreshing lemon shochu cocktails, fished out of buckets of ice at a yakisoba stall)

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and a wander through. This was a more commercial market, reflected by the prices, but we did see one thing that made us want to return everything we’d bought, for a second ― an enormous, fat kimono known as a “donja”. Stuffed with cotton scraps, donja served as primitive sleeping bags during the icy winter nights. This thing was a monster -- a Big Mofo, as Menno called it -- and pretty much unwearable, but it would have made an amazing decoration. Yet our pockets are empty, and so a photo will have to suffice. After a quick pitstop, to drop our shopping off at home, we venture out again to Nakameguro, a pretty and hip area stretched along a picturesque river. Hidden away and barely-signed vintage shops were the order of the day here, while in outer stretches of the Meguro district we found Larry Smith, a maker of exquisite Native American jewelry and accessories, finished with a typical Japanese sense of perfection and refinement. We had to tear Menno away before he bought the whole store. By this point, Rene “I refuse to go anywhere unless it’s by taxi” Strolenberg was getting tired. Time for dinner… and of course some more hopsaké.

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WASH INSTRUCTIONS / Tenue de Nîmes

WAS H INSTRUCTION S 3 OPTION S:

It’s probably the biggest debate about denim: to wash, or not to wash?

If you wash your jeans too soon, they will appear less “per sonalized”.

We at Tenue de Nîmes have gathered some thoughts on the subject for you to consider.

This is because washing: - gets rid of the curves in your jeans - creates an all-over fade.

Not washing your denim has one major advantage: it allows you to create a per sonal ‘signature’ on your jeans.

However, there is nothing wrong with was hing jeans. In fact, Japanese denim br ands believe sweat, among other things, are like toxins for your denim, so cleaning them occasionally is simply necessar y.

If you decide not to wash them, they will: - curve around your body. - star t to reveal lighter streaks and areas because the indigo star ts fading. - become like a second skin and eventually show a unique wor n-out patter n that ref lects the s hape of your body and how you wear them.

“Great, but what do I do then?”

I.

II.

III.

Use a shor t progr am (appr. 20 minutes) at 30°C (9 0°F) without detergent. And no spinning! The jeans should come out soaking wet. Hang them to air dr y right away.

Put your jeans in a bath of tepid water and soak for 5 minutes. Take them out and hang them to air dr y immediately.

Take your jeans into the sea and soak for 5 minutes. Let the jeans dr y in the sun.

Are your jeans smelly, even though you haven’t wor n them for 6 months yet? Put them in the fridge for a night, or hang them outside for a day or two. A steamy shower room works great too! Take care!

▶▶▶ WWW. TENUEDENIMES. CO M

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COLLABORATION / Alden for Tenue de Nîmes

Alden x Tenue de Nîmes

AVA I L A BLE N OW

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Factory visit

Tenue de Nîmes

MADE IN JAPAN

WRITTEN BY SOPHIE KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY BY SOPHIE KNIGHT & RENÉ STROLENBERG

KOJIMA / & LAUNDR

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n every trip to Japan, Menno and René try to spend a few days down in Kojima, the holy grail of Japanese denim. The sleepiness of this seaside town belies its beating blue heart in the form of around 15 recognisable denim brands, including Edwin, Japan Blue, and Momotaro, as well as dozens of denim factories, and laundries. This time Menno and René had a special mission: we were to visit some of the manufacturers they hoped to use for the “Made in Japan” edition of thier TdN Pablo and Charles jeans. Having tumbled off the bullet train and whisked to our hotel in the dead of night, it was almost a shock — though a nice one — to wake up and realise our hotel had an incredible panoramic view over the Seto Inland Sea, as well as an outdoor hot tub to enjoy it from. By May, the south of Japan is beginning to bristle with heat, and the lush landscape across the bay was quite something to behold over breakfast. First up on the agenda for the day was a processing plant and laundry. Inside an entirely unassuming-looking building facade, down a countryside lane, we found a labyrinthine factory of creativity. There were flourishes we could barely imagine elsewhere, from the sand paper scrubbers used to rub in whiskers and mustaches repurposed into cartoon-character sculptures, to posters for Chucky films hung on red walls while a heavy metal soundtrack blared, masking the sound of an electric sander. In another room, empty cans of Red Bull had been piled against a wall to create a kind of shiny, high-energy wallpaper. Empty tanks of solvent had been painted to resemble Spongebob Squarepants. On the wall, staff had drawn manga cartoons in their free time. These little flashes of creativity ― not only allowed but emphatically encouraged by management ― demonstrated to us the way that a sense of humor and a refreshingly relaxed attitude to individual freedom. It seemed to us that this factory not only pursued the ultimate quality in its processes (one of the manager’s collection of vintage imitations were good enough to fool us) but also allowed their staff to breathe and let off steam by adapting their workspace as they like.

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Factory visit

/ FACTORY RY

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TENUE DE NÎMES MADE IN JAPAN / Factory visit

It was clear, looking at the tags and order slips scattered around the factory, that many other Japanese brands felt the same way. Tenue de Nimes jeans were in safe hands here. We also went to a sewing factory, reputed to be one of the best in Kojima. We were greeted by the boss -- a permanently beaming, tanned gentleman who plied us with coffee and tea and impressed upon us his absolutely obsessive focus on efficiency in pursuit of quality. Walking us around the factory floor, he pointed out a robot that he had invented to pick up finished legs from a seamstresses’ station and lie them down on top of a pillow opposite, saving her time and effort so she could turn out more by the hour. Responding to a labour shortage in the industry that has seen an influx of Chinese workers, he had also begun a training school for local women, particularly mothers who wanted to work full time, offering the flexible hours, and guaranteed employment after that. He created flexible shifts throughout the company to accommodate different work styles. On the wall was a sign saying “Save time where you can… but don’t cut quality!” I think that’s a philosophy we can all get behind.

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SPECIAL FEATURE / Kapital

WRITTEN BY MENNO VAN MEURS PHOTOGRAPHY BY MENNO VAN MEURS

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ne of the biggest pleasures in Japan was discovering Kapital, a cult brand that marries American-made denim and Japanese heritage. Their pieces are, quite simply, stunning: some resemble authentic vintage items, with an incredible attention to detail that makes you doubt they were manufactured; others reinvent garments, twisting them with a little tongue-in-cheek humor. Visiting their three stores in Tokyo, all around the corner from each other, felt more like a religious experience than a retail one. I’ve never had to take off my shoes before entering a store before, or wandered around one in my socks. We went up stairs, then down a different flight, around corners and into tiny cubby holes until we didn’t know where we were anymore, but we were surrounded by the most astonishing stuff we’d ever seen. Incense floats through the air; ties and belts hang from the ceiling; strange wooden sculptures and Native American totems and jewellery adorn the walls. When we finally settled on some bandannas to buy — it required great self-restraint not to buy everything in the store — the staff sewed us a bag to package them before putting them into another bag and bowing deeply as we left. Our senses were left tingling and our appetite piqued for more. Fortunately, we got it: on our trip down to Kojima, Kapital’s base, we visited the head store, which feels like stepping into a church. Our good friend Shunji, who used to work as a designer at Kapital and was traveling with us, managed to coax Toshikiyo Hirata, the founder and CEO, outside to greet us. Refusing photos and damning the press, we got a sense of a man dedicated, above all, to making amazing clothes.

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INSPIRATION / Qoute

“Just as a man lives and grows old, so too does fabric live and age. When fabric is left to age for a year or two, it naturally contracts, and at this point it reveals its charm. The threads have a life of their own, they pass through the seasons and mature. It is only through this process that the true appeal of the fabric is revealed.” - Yohji Yamamoto, My Dear Bomb

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INTERVIEW / W. David Marx

W. DAVID MAR W. David Marx is the author of Ametora, a book that

traces the history of how Japan imported, copied, tweaked, mastered and finally improved American fashion and clothing. From Ivy League and the “American Traditional” (amerikan toradishonaru in Japanese) the book derives its title from, through to denim and streetwear, Ametora follows the trajectory of Japanese menswear in the post-war era through the personal stories of influential protagonists ranging from style mavens to factory bosses. A must-read for anyone with an interest in classic American style and the transmission of fashion trends and manufacturing techniques around the globe. We sat down with David to talk about the motivation behind the book and his thoughts on the contemporary Japanese fashion industry. Why are Japanese brands such high quality? There’s a couple of things. It’s very easy for people to say, ‘Well, it’s their national character, and that’s it!’ But one of the things I was trying to do with the book was figure out the answer to that question and look at the evolution of that quality.

I found out that from the ’60s onwards, when Japanese brands started making American style clothing, it was already very high quality. After the war, Japan was completely destroyed and the government needed to be very top-down and centrally coordinated. They asked, what’s an industry we can build up very quickly that’s going to make a lot of high-quality things for export? The answer was the textile industry. So they were creating all this amazing high-quality cloth for next-to-nothing, and in the beginning 90 percent of it was exported. Once Japanese domestic consumption really started growing in the late ’60s, and they started thinking about making things like denim for the Japanese market, they had great production quality for the market to start with. The second reason is because Western fashion was basically an import: both the idea of it or the good itself. There’s always been a premium to clothing. When I was growing up in the US, a pair of jeans was $25 and a t-shirt was $20. Meanwhile Japanese people in the 80s were willing to pay literally $200, $300, and $2000, for a pair of dead stock 1966 Levi’s. So the price point has always been high enough to have really good production. In the US they would have thought these were crazy price points, but now the global men’s fashion world has become so big, people expect to pay $300 for a pair of jeans or a shirt. The third thing is, there’s a real pride and identity in making high quality things and people want to connect their things back to the Japanese craft tradition. One of the easy ways for them to do that is through quality. How did Japan prompt the U.S. to go back to making selvedge jeans again? Well, Levi’s idea to make all their 501s from the different years started with Levi’s Japan, rather than Levi’s US. The concept of it is super Japanese, no one in America would have thought of it. Levi’s America, for example, didn’t think they were interesting until they noticed Japanese were buying up all the dead stock from the warehouses and collectors. If you were into vintage in the 1980s it was all about 1950s gabardine dresses and Hawaiian shirts and so on, but 40

nobody was thinking about jeans. I don���t think American were turned onto it until the Japanese were already taking everything out of the country. In the ’80s when people started saying, “Let’s make selvedge denim that feels like ’50s selvedge denim”, it was a really radical idea in Japan and no one had thought about it until these crazy little brands started thinking about it. But they had all these selvedge looms had never been thrown away, and they were much higher quality than the looms America had used to start with. The Japanese textile manufacturing industry hadn’t been hollowed out like it had been in America: they still had highly skilled people and all the machinery. Are there any other examples beyond selvedge where America has copied Japanese Americana? In a lot of cases I bet the brands wouldn’t admit that that was true, but Brooks Brothers recently redid its buttondown collar shirt, which is much more retro than their other recent ones and reflects what the shirt used to look like the in ’60s. I don’t think that they ever would have said, “This is because Japan did it,” but the kind of obsession around a perfect button-down collar is certainly a very Japanese thing. Then, for example, there’s bomber jackets, as well as souvenir jackets, which are actually from [American troops based in] Japan. The Real McCoys and Buzz Rickson really created the gold standard of what reproduction garments could be, and were very influential. Even if it wasn’t forcing them to bring things back it was giving respect to these pieces of clothing which would have been otherwise just military gear. When did Americans realise that Japanese-made versions of American style dress had surpassed American versions? It’s almost conventional wisdom now. When I bring it up outside of Japan people are not even like ‘Oh, that’s an interesting point’, they’re like, ‘Yeah, of course.’ I think there was a couple of steps to get here. In the ’80s JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


INTERVIEW / W. David Marx

INTERVIEW WITH RX AUTHOR OF AMETORA WRITTEN BY SOPHIE KNIGHT IMAGES FROM ‘AMETORA’ BY DAVID MARX and until the mid-’90s, Japanese people were still kind of ridiculed for their style: even if they wore the same clothes as Americans, they were accused of not “getting it” in the way that Americans did. Jeans were the first step. I remember someone in college [in the late 90s] talking about how 45rpm and Evisu were better than American brands and the price points were reflective of that. At that point, there was a rumor going around that the Japanese had bought up all the old looms. So there was this realisation that the Japanese were so obsessed with American style that they were perfecting it. By 2007, the men’s fashion scene was blowing up and focused on Americana in particular. And people were just like, “Whoah, where did this whole country come from?” Because if people had never seen things from Japan before, they were shocked at how much higher quality and higher level it was than what was in the US. After that, a lot of the stuff started to be distributed all over the world so people could actually buy it. Now, when I talk to people they often list five brands I’ve never heard of. The extent to which brands are getting exposure overseas is just incredible. Flathead, Iron Heart, Sugarcane: these are just not brands I would have heard of it if I’d not interviewed someone who mentioned them. A lot of people say the Japanese are masters of mimicry and copying things and not so great at innovation. Would you agree with that? There’s two parts of this. I would definitely disagree in the long run. However, there is a point in traditional Japanese arts of mimicking towards innovation. So in ikebana or karate or whatever, there’s forms that you learn to master. As you perfect them, you can start breaking those forms and doing your own, and then you finally separate from the original form and make your own forms. It’s a very conservative form of cultural innovation but it does lead towards innovation. You get there, but first you imitate perfectly. I think there’s no stigma towards being a faithful student and leading to innovation in that way. Whereas in the West there’s this idea of pure creativity, and innovation has to break as quickly as possible from the master. In the book one thing I wrote about is the degree to which, for example, Junya Watanabe and Visvim and Engineered Garments know everything in the world about the history of American clothing, but they desperately don’t want to make rip-offs, they want to make something different. Engineered Garments don’t look like Ivy League clothes but [Daiki] Suzuki knows everything about the Ivy League. It’s inspired by it but it’s different. Visvim is completely on its own wavelength and [Hiroki Nakamura] is interested in bringing in folk traditions that aren’t Anglo-American. There is now a set of very studied and educated set of designers but they are definitely pushing towards new things and not just trying to repeat old things. In the book you also wrote about 45rpm and Kapital connecting Americana with Japanese and ethnic traditions Yes. What’s amazing was how the idea of jeans in Japan seems so Japanese, especially if you go to a 45rpm or Kapital store. They make it look like there was this centuries-old Japanese tradition of making jeans, and you have to stop yourself for a second and think “Wait a minute!”. They’ve just made it look so seamless. Indigo is the bond there, but I realised that Japanese indigo dyeing was so much more sophisticated than American dyeing. If you use the Japanese dyeing style, you permeate the yarn all the way right down to its core so they never fade. The Japanese actually had to learn how to make a worse kind of industrial dyeing process to make jeans that faded. That was an innovation of its own, to bake jeans and that kind of clothing into Japanese tradition even though it had never been there before. As you describe, Japanese fashion is quite rule based, and the way that trends are generated, emerge and develop is quite different to the US and Europe in the way that they’re generated. Why do you think that came about, and do you see it continuing? I think there’s always been somewhat independent things that are not dictated. There’s almost nowhere where trends aren’t in some way influenced by media. JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

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INTERVIEW / W. David Marx

It’s just impossible. But there are things that are dictated by the media, and there are people who are influenced by what they see in the media, and they’re separate things. In the ’70s the bosozoku gangs and rock’n’roll culture was all totally influenced by things in the media, but it was original and not dictated, and the media wanted nothing to do with it. But with young people, I think there are a just a lot of people who want to participate in a trend. They think, “Oh, I don’t know how to dress, I’ll just read this magazine”. Japanese magazines make it very obvious what’s on trend, and then if you go to the store, any store, everything is laid out for you in outfits. We don’t live in a monolithic world, so there’s always three or four acceptable styles in every culture, but it does make things very predictable and trends change kind of like clockwork in a way that they don’t in more chaotic places. Do you think this is why fashion in Japan is often accused of being superficial and divorced from ideological origins? How did that come to be? Why does a quiff mean something different in Japan to what it does in the States? Well, there are things that definitely are divorced from their ideological origins. But I think the idea that “nothing means anything in Japan” and that it’s this

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INTERVIEW / W. David Marx

“perfect, postmodern world where there’s all these signifiers” is not quite true. If you wear a quiff that is absolutely a sign of defiance. It’s always been one in Japan, and that predates Elvis and rockabilly. The Regent, as it’s called in Japan, showed up in the late ’20s because they used so much pomade back then. It was supposed to be gentlemanly but it ended up being demonised because you were supposed to save pomade for the war effort. Then after the war when everyone had a shaved head, everyone started wearing their quiffs again to show that they were done with this postwar era and that they were going back to the elements of pre-war. So the quiff always represented defiance, it’s fairly clear. That’s because it’s rooted in local history. It’s when things are foreign and they’re imported by media, stores or magazines trying to sell things, that the media takes out the political element. I mean, Ivy League fashion has all this class baggage in the United States. But when you take it to Japan, you take that class baggage out of it. So a lot of these things disappeared. Talking of subcultures — whenever you you scratch away at the surface of any subculture in Japan it feels like you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole and there is this enormous warren that you had no idea existed. Yes, it always blows me away that those rabbit holes are so big. Which is a good thing. About ten years ago, we were all worrying about Japan’s terminal decline because spending is down and the population is shrinking and there’s fewer young people. But what saved these niche fashion genres is that the foreign interest has kept it stuff alive, because foreigners are talking about how great it is. If their domestic sales are dropping for a niche Japanese brand, their foreign sales are skyrocketing. It’s balancing it out and letting them continue. So I’m really optimistic at the moment that this culture, which was supposed to be disappearing because there’s not enough people to buy it in Japan, now has enough scale overseas to stay alive.

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STORE / Tenue de Nîmes Haarlemmerstraat

Tenue de Nîmes

HAARLEMMERSTRAAT 44

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STORE / Tenue de Nîmes Haarlemmerstraat

92-94 JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

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DENIM & REPAIRS / Tenue de Nîmes

Tenue de Nîmes follows the basic principles of quality, function and simplicity and offers an exclusive and highly curated selection of brands and products from all over the world. With an emphasis on quality, its roster focuses on pieces with a timeless appeal from brands such as A.P.C., Acne Studios, Double RL, Levi's, Libertine-Libertine, and the Tenue de Nîmes brand.

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DENIM & REPAIRS / Tenue de Nîmes

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DENIM & REPAIRS / Tenue de Nîmes

DENIM &

Why do so many of you say that buying jeans is an adventure? Or even

worse, that it’s a nightmare trying to find the right pair of jeans? At Tenue de Nîmes, we believe it takes only a little a bit of effort to customise your jeans in order to make it your personal master pattern.

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Since denim companies do not fancy making too many length sizes any more, most of the time jeans will fit the waist perfectly, but they are too long. It is at that moment that, for some reason, people start to get sloppy. They will say something like: “Oh well, I might as well wear them with a turn-up”. Why is it when people buy a pair of pants or a suit jacket, they get alterations made to the sleeves, the waist, the length and sometimes even the positioning of the buttons… but when they purchase a pair of jeans, they don’t seem to care that much?

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DENIM & REPAIRS / Tenue de Nîmes

REPAIRS

We at Tenue de Nîmes believe that a pair of jeans should always fit perfectly. This starts with determining the right size with the help of one of our colleagues in our stores. Secondly, we provide the jeans with a finishing touch to make them tailor-made for you. When we started Tenue de Nîmes in 2008 we decided altering a pair of jeans would be done for free. We feel a jeans must be ‘perfect’ before you walk away in them. No matter whether you want the jeans shorter, tighter, closer in the waist, or anything else to make that 98% into 100% percent, we are at your service and it is for free. So when you next buy a pair of jeans at Tenue de Nîmes, you can rest assured that what you take home will be your exact size.

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Happy with your jeans, but they start falling apart? We do repairs too! A crotch blowout or a hole in your knee is no reason to let go of your beloved jeans. Take care and repair. Bring your jeans to our Tenue de Nîmes Haarlemmerstraat DENIM & REPAIRS corner and we will be happy to prepare your jeans for the next couple of months. Enjoy!

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INTERVIEW / Marco Bonzanni

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INTERVIEW / Marco Bonzanni

MARCO ‘PAPA’ BONZANNI & THE DENIM REVOLUTION

We met Marco at Pitti Uomo a few years ago when he was introduced to us by another Italian friend, Maurizio Donadi, who used to be VP of Levi”s XX. Maurizio is a very charismatic and inspiring man who is always full of ideas, but we only ever meet for a couple of seconds somewhere. We ran into him at Pitti Uomo and he immediately introduced us to the guy he was with, saying: “Guys, this is the king of fabrics. If at one point you need the best fabrics in the world, you should call Marco.” Marco is a very humble, introverted guy and he looked at Maurizio as if to say, ‘Hey, do you have to put it like that?’ Even though he really is the best man in Europe when it comes to denim fabric. Rene always kept Marco’s business card in his back pocket, and when we started developing Tenue de Nîmes jeans, we recalled the conversation we had in Florence and decided to contact him. He’s now the most amazing, helpful, thoughtful person that we know in the denim business. Besides being a huge inspiration for us when it comes to finding exclusive fabric for the Tenue de Nîmes brand, he is also been a great mentor to us for the whole production sphere. Marco Bonzanni is the one that introduced us to our current Italian production house, and is the one who opens doors that normally stay closed. No wonder that one day we just started to call him ‘Papa’ Bonzanni. To us it felt like the right time to introduce Marco to you. Hopefully it will put an extra bit of love into that moment when you first try on a pair of Tenue de Nîmes jeans.

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INTERVIEW / Marco Bonzanni

‘The best way to def is to simply be the Please introduce yourself and tell us about your background. I started working in this industry by accident. Back in the day I was working in the hotel industry. After doing military service in Italy I went to Germany. While I was in Munich I decided the hotel business was not what I wanted to do with

A friend of mine worked at Sgat, a company specialising in outerwear

the rest of my life. I decided to go back to Italy to finish my studies. Back in

fabrics. The owner promised me that as soon as I finished my studies

Bergamo there were a few big industries one could work in at that time, such

I would ‘get my own bag’. So in 1987 I started my sales adventure in

as metal, electronics and textiles. By coincidence, Legler, which was one of

fabrics and my first job in denim sales was at Montebello, a denim mill

the industry leaders in textiles, hired me. Legler was a Swiss company that

specialising in fancy denim fabric. After some steps in between, I became

established a branch near Bergamo, in Ponte St. Pietro, in the middle of the

export manager of Legler in 1994. I was back at my starting point and they

19th century. They became of the biggest players in the world specialising in

were still on top of the business of cotton, corduroy and denim, producing

corduroy and cotton fabrics. They were also one of the first in the 1970s to

roughly 15 million meters of fabric per year.

industrially produce denim fabric. I started working there in June 1981 in their back-office and I became responsible for the Scandinavian and US markets.

What was it that got you interested in fabric in the first place?

That’s where I met Andrew Olah for the first time [Founder of The Kingpins show and CEO of Olah Inc.]. I basically worked as his secretary and it was then

The end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001 was considered the biggest

that I fell in love with fabrics. Legler was my university and today I believe that

denim boom in history of denim. It became very boring though — we weren’t

the best people in the industry come from that Swiss ‘school’.

hungry to sell any more. It was basically sitting in the office taking orders. Deciding every Monday who was going to get what. But I was lucky to

What made you decide to leave the company?

get introduced to the Head of Sales at Kurabo [a Japanese denim mill] by Andrew Olah, and they looking for a European agent. It was a big jump in

When I started working at the company I saw the sales guys going to all the

the unknown, going from a solid director position to go work on my own,

shows and bringing back the most amazing fabrics from their journeys. I started

but in order to convince me they took me on a trip through the whole chain:

to get interested in that sense of adventure. In the meantime I was all over the

from the cotton mills in Thailand to China and eventually to their Japan

place. I studied everything in the labs and basically learned everything about

facility. It was how I got convinced that this would be the ultimate step for

fabrics. But at one point I realised I wanted to go and sell stuff. After one year,

me. Since that day I have been their European agent and I am very proud to

during my annual review, I realised that this opportunity would not come along

be their European partner.

at Legler, so I decided it was time for me to leave. You may compare it to sitting on the bench at Real Madrid: You see everything happening in front of you but

If you had to give consumers one piece of advice for what to look for in

at one point you want to play! I have always been attracted to travelling and to

the fabric when they buy jeans, what would it be?

the idea of having freedom to get to know the world. I was speaking English, French and German so I felt I had the world at my feet. But during those days

It is very difficult to judge a fabric with your eyes closed. My perception is

I was working from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and then going to school from 6 p.m. - 11

always about the balance of a garment. In my opinion denim should always

p.m., so before I could make my move I wanted to finish my studies.

be between 12 oz [weight per square yard] and up. Whatever is below that is yarn-dyed indigo to me, not denim. There is a lot of confusion about you may call denim or not. You have to know when denim was first developed it was a work material which was heavy by nature, mainly 14 oz fabrics. It had to last, it had to be strong. You can not make an 11 oz jean and expect the same kind of performance of a heavier jean. I believe that well made jeans like you sell at Tenue de Nîmes are all solid five pocket jeans. Because that is what will make them last longer!

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INTERVIEW / Marco Bonzanni

fend your territory best’. Though honestly, that is where the tricky part starts: everything from the weight, the origin of the yarn, the quality, the shape of the yarn and the way the yarn is dyed determine the quality of denim eventually. In my opinion,

But then a lot of brands moved the decision-making process from designer

people overestimate the weaving and finishing of denim. I really believe the

to bookkeeper. Please understand that when design is the centre and the

quality is in the yarn, or the base of the fabric, rather than what you do with

soul of the company, a brand is able to be progressive. Top-leading brands

it eventually! Consumers are often misled by the brand aspect of clothing —

in 2004 and 2005 had a very clear core business and all the big denim

but the idea is that if I buy a good jean, I buy it forever. It’s something I get

companies like Diesel, Replay and G-star were successful because of their

never tired of. Invest in something good. Proper jeans will last such a long

uniqueness and ability to change and inspire. They defended their territory

time!

in a very simple but effective way: They were doing it the best! In the years that followed most brands decided to do it all: open retail, large collections,

Are there any new developments in denim, or another fabric you love,

become lifestyle brands. And they maybe forgot about what brought them

that you are excited about?

their initial success.

As I said before, denim is a product that is made out of cotton. I consider

It’s like playing RISK. You abandon your strongest countries to conquer

stretch, for instance, as a variation of the basic. To a certain extent, it can

the rest of the world, but often you lose sight of the countries that initially

be considered progress. If I go back to the question ‘What is denim and

brought all the success. A side effect of all of this is that this whole

what is yarn-dyed indigo?’, I believe that denim is traditionally something

movement killed the jeans shop in my home country. It’s simply not there

else. Stretch denim is a modern variation that I believe is represents

anymore in Italy. I am sad about that because the denim store to me is the

something contemporary. On the other hand: Who knows what would have

backbone of our industry.

happened if we would have given a stretch jean to a cowboy? They just might have liked it! But is it denim? No.

What do you personally look for in a fabric? What’s your favourite texture / feel in a fabric, and why?

Is there anything currently being lost, or something that you’re seeing less and less, that you’re sad about?

The fabric that I love the most without a doubt is the one you bought for your upcoming Tenue de Nîmes jeans [Tenue de Nîmes Pablo ‘True Blue’].

It is sad that the word “denim” is misinterpreted on such a large scale.

It’s the most simple and true denim fabric out there. It is what denim is

Brands refer to anything as ‘denim’. It is very misleading. It felt like denim

meant to be! I could do everything with that fabric.

became a commodity. In the 1970s denim was a rebel story. I think that the biggest change came

What is your advice for the 21st century denim company?

around 2004- 2005. Until then brands were working with a few items, there was a lot of knowledge inside these companies and every brand had a very

My suggestion would be to focus on a few things and make those the very

clear DNA. People don’t know but retailers like ZARA were already there!

best. In my opinion, inspiring brands will become the next luxury brands. In

But the strong DNA of the brands was built around the philosophy of the

the last three years I have met some very passionate people who have really

owner and his team. In this way a brand was almost impossible to replicate.

set a new standard. One is Livid from Norway, one is Hiut from the UK and

Designers were leading the brands creatively and they decided what was

the third is you guys at Tenue de Nîmes. I help you because I feel inspired

good for the brand and what was not. They had the knowledge, they had the

by the love you put into your product. You are trying to rebuild this industry

vision and the imagination it required to be unique.

and not doing so by over-bargaining a fabric price. Livid jeans are also likeminded. This part of my work is about passion and satisfaction. But I’ve come to an age where, if I see a beautiful flower in the woods, it is nice to enjoy that view for as long as I can.

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INTERVIEW / Marco Bonzanni

Which country, in your opinion, makes the world’s most exquisite

On top of that, most luxury brands are much more interested in real denim

denim fabric?

than ever before. During the 1980s the denim were also a heavier weight — no stretch at all. I think luxury brands are looking to get back to the ‘true’

I have been involved in denim fabrics since the 1980s. I have always

product of those days. And although globalization creates a world view on

been told that Japanese fabrics were the best. Whether that concerned

fashion I see a lot of differences between countries in the way they look at

cotton, outerwear of denim - Japanese fabric was considered to be the

denim.

‘Real McCoy’. When I started working for Kurabo I realised the secret is their passion. What Japanese people are willing to do is unbelievable. They

Do you collect fabrics? What are they? Do you have a most treasured/

sometimes appear to be slow, they give you a hard time understanding their

most cherished piece of fabric?

emotion. But everything they do they strive for the best. Japanese producers don’t compromise. That’s also the challenge in the current market I must

Yes. I have an archive of fabrics from the past 15 years I worked in the

admit. Distance influences lead times and the quality comes at certain

denim industry. All Japanese fabrics. I have around 10,000 swatch cards of

price. These two aspects influence the amount you pay for a fabric. But

denim, cotton, yarn-dyed indigo, checks and other Japanese fabrics. I was

you can never expect a company like Kurabo to compromise and that is

often asked to sell my archive but at this point I can not let go of it yet. Even

sometimes not really the easiest thing to do. They refuse to step away from

if you take, for instance, a Japanese yarn-dyed check fabric — they are able

quality. They stick to the plan.

to make a color combination and construct a fabric in a way that makes you want to keep on looking and touching.

What did you enjoy most about the fashion industry? Do you have any other passions? Are there any parallels between that When I started working at Kurabo, the mill was an expensive alternative. But

and fabric?

the brands were appreciating the quality and brands were looking at jeans without barriers. The product was leading, not cost. That, for me, was the

Besides my work in the textile industry I love to spend time with my family.

most amazing time to work in denim. Brands were not limiting themselves.

When I have to clear my head I like to take my motorcycle and drive around

Right now people talk in price segments and if you don’t fit the segment

the lakes in the north of Italy near my hometown. I used to do a lot of diving

the conversation is over. Start-ups like Tenue den Nîmes give me the most

too but unfortunately due to too much hard work I had to give that up.

satisfaction because they have no limits and quality always comes first.

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INTERVIEW / Marco Bonzanni

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DENIM STORY / The 501 Documentary

The 501 Jean:

Levi’s Stories of an Original - The

Written by Menno van Meurs Photography by Levi’s Vintage Clothing & Tenue de Nîmes Archive

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DENIM STORY / The 501 Documentary

4th Episode: JAPAN L

evi’s released a series of mini documentaries last year as a tribute to their one and only original Levi’s jean: The Levi’s 501®. In the first three episodes the iconic jean was presented in Work, Style and Rebellion. The jean of course started as a utilitarian garment for coal miners, cowboys and industrial workers. But soon after Hollywood adopted the 501 for its look rather than its function, the jean became all about style. The third episode touched on the 501 as a symbol of youth culture. Who would have ever guessed these jeans would become the uniform of skaters, rap musicians as well as German youth fighting for the fall of the Berlin Wall?

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Just when we thought the trilogy was complete, Levi’s released an unexpected 4th episode. The 4th installment focuses on denim culture or more specifically the Levi’s 501 culture, in Japan. The movie reveals lovely insight and stories from arrival of the first Levi’s 501 jean in the 1950s to the vintage revival in the 1990s. Furthermore Japan made a brand like Levi’s get to know more about their own heritage. There is no country in the world that has more shops that sell sought after vintage 501’s than Japan . Tokyo in particular may now be considered the Mecca of Levi’s jeans and is (for those amongst us with deep pockets)

the best city of earth to find a 501 from a particular era. In our previous Journal de Nîmes (The New Vintage Issue) we wrote about Ichiro, founder of OrSlow who started designing jeans because of his love of the 1970s 501 and wanted to bring something like it back to life. Well, we believe there is no better way to describe Japan’s deep love for Levi’s jeans. Time for us to share the best images from the 4th Levi’s 501 episode and of course share some of our favourite vintage Levi’s pieces from our Tenue de Nîmes archive too. Enjoy the full documentary on Youtube.

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FEATURE / Amsterdam Vintage Watches

THE GOOD TH

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FEATURE / Amsterdam Vintage Watches

HINGS IN LIFE O ME GA S EA MASTE R 300 WRITTEN BY JASPER LIJFERING PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANK KARSSING

J

ames Bond is not just a bad-ass hero, but a style icon. This is reflected in his suits, cars, weapons, drinks and of course in his wristwatches. His watch of choice was once a diver by Rolex (among many others), but since 1997 he has counted on Omega. In his latest adventure (Spectre 2015) he sports an Omega Seamaster 300 that design-wise is strongly influenced by its predecessor from the sixties. The Omega Seamaster is the oldest Omega line in the current collection. It was intended as a durable yet elegant watch for active individuals who wanted a versatile wristwatch. The most beloved tool watch in this line became the Omega Seamaster 300, which has a water depth rating of 300m. It proved its abilities in submarines during the Second World War and was used to achieve the first diving record back in 1955. Due to the exceptional quality of the Omega Seamaster 300, it has been a popular choice among many of the world’s most famous explorers and divers — most notably the use of Jacques Cousteau’s team in the summer of 1963. It would also go on to be the watch of choice for military divers, including the British Special Boat Service. Although this watch was specifically designed for professionals and underwater sports lovers, it soon enjoyed a wider fan-base. The strong masculine and rugged looks didn’t go unnoticed back then, and it still is a real statement on the wrist. A watch with so much character. This specific SM300 is from 1969 and in all original condition. It comes on a steel Omega bracelet but a leather or Nato strap also looks awesome on this piece. The dial has a beautiful structure and the tritium index turns greenish over the years. The military style ‘broad-arrow’ hands has yellow lume, just like the original Bakelite bezel. The thick watchcase features strong lines in the ‘twisted’ lugs. Don’t worry if you’re not James Bond, or a deep-sea diver for that matter. Combine it with your denim jacket and you’ll be just as cool.

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DESIGN / Handcrafted Modern

Handcrafted Modern Nº5 WRITTEN BY MENNO VAN MEURS PHOTOGRAPHY BY BLOOMBERRY

The collaboration between design company Bloomberry and 21st century denim brand Tenue de Nîmes is much like the relationship between Wharton’s wooden staircase and a Hickoree Stripe overall by Lee: they have more in common than you would think. We believe the following pieces of art from the Bloomberry collection would take any Tenue de Nîmes interior to another level. Enjoy!

George Nakashima Conoid Chair, UNITED STATES, 1960 Conoid chair by woodmaster George Nakashima. The seat is cantilevered from two uprights, and the chair uses no screws of bolts, demonstrating the utmost in precision craftsmanship. A stunning masterpiece in perfect condition.

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DESIGN / Handcrafted Modern

Two-Tier Ejner Pagh Studio Walnut Desk, USA, 1974

A studio crafted and sculptural wooden desk in walnut by American woodworker Ejner Pagh. The desk has a level for writing and two higher levels for storage. The desk is signed by Pagh. This piece was bought directly from Ejnar Pagh and was made in 1974.

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DESIGN / Handcrafted Modern

Charlotte Perriand Cansado Bench or Coffee Table, MAURITANIA, 1950S

This Charlotte Perriand slat bench was made for and used in the town of Cansado, Mauritania. The town was designed according to modernist principles, so it was a fitting choice to select Charlotte Perriand’s modern designs to furnish some of the apartments. This low bench, which is a variation on the slat bench she designed in Japan in the mid1950s, is constructed out of nine light-colored wooden slats on a low metal frame with four legs. The slats are connected by means of three shorter slats that serve as a dowel.

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DESIGN / Handcrafted Modern

Maruni Studio Foldable Lounge Chairs, JAPAN, 1940S

A pair of very rare foldable lounge chairs from the Maruni studio in Hiroshima. The chairs are made of an oak frame and a sling seating of the original brown nylon mesh with new white cord. The wood is weathered from age, but still in a sound condition. Both chairs have a 'VITA Sleep' tag.

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BRAND PROFILE / Abel Vita Odor

ABEL

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BRAND PROFILE / Abel Vita Odor

V I TA ODO R - BR IN GIN G S C E N T TO L I F E

Written by Thomas Bristol Photography by Sophie Tajan

The most primal of senses, our sense of smell is able to detect

and associate odours and aromas with occasions, people and places. Associations that provoke, inspire and challenge us — all without our conscious brain even registering the smell. With the new Abel vita odor perfume collection launching in Tenue de Nîmes, we explore the enigmatic world of scent with Abel’s founder Frances Shoemack. On the world of scent: Fragrance is one of those amazing worlds that sits directly at the intersection of art and science. Perfume, wine, architecture, music… technical perfection means nothing without soul. This, combined with the emotive connection of the olfactory world, is what makes it so fascinating. The other factor for me is nature, something too often missing in modern fragrance where it’s extremely rare that you actually get to see a natural ingredient shine. I come from a background working in wine, where the skill and craft is in working with the unique terroir of a vineyard. I like to see fragrances the same way — our job is to bring out the unique personality of these extremely rare, beautiful, natural oils. On the process of making perfume: With fewer master perfumers in the world than astronauts, we see that, first and foremost, the perfumer needs to be at the center of this process (as opposed to the marketing team). I work super closely with our ‘Nose’ Isaac Sinclair. For the vita odor collection, we literally shut ourselves in a room in Paris for days exploring our favourite ingredients, notes, and, compositions and let the fragrances fall out of this process. It’s hard not to have ideas in your head about what you want to create, but I think the best fragrances are a result of exploring, not journeying towards an endpoint. The vita odor collection was supposed to be a collection of four fragrances, but Isaac and I kept coming back to the Labdanum oil sample (a resin that comes from the European rockrose). It was just so alluring and is one of Isaac’s fetish scents. We made the call in that little room in Paris to add a fifth scent — now Grey Labdanum — to the collection. A rockstar scent we were making because we were both infatuated with the possibilities, not because it made any sense on paper or fitted a prior brief! Those days in a room in Paris were over a year ago. In the time between, Isaac sends me hundreds of refinements from his base in São Paulo to my base in Amsterdam. This is where the technical skill comes in: methodically trialling, testing, evaluating until you are happy you have a complete, balanced, polished perfume.
 Finding a visual language that communicates an olfactory world is not so easy. Especially if you’re not relying on any of the cues widely used in the fragrance world where they’re selling an image or aspiration. For us, scent is more than that. It is the space between — where fragrance meets wearer, a continual evolution and what becomes your personal olfactive chemistry. Our creative team Joachim Baan and Chris van Veghel really dug into this world— vita odor, as they coined it — living fragrance. All of a sudden, this incredibly evocative language started to emerge. A language based on light, shadow, words, memories, movement. A language that creates the environment, lets the perfume shine, but forces you to draw your own conclusions. This is what forms the core of all our communication. You can see this really brought to life on our website abelodor.com, which was created by the team at Build in Amsterdam, where we try to harness the senses through the barriers of digital time and space.

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FEATURE / Fade Tenue de Nîmes

Tenue de Nîmes People often ask us why we love jeans so much. Or what we think makes jeans so special. One of the answers we always give is the fact that jeans are, unlike any other piece of clothing, so personal. Miles Johnson, Creative Director at Patagonia, once said to us: “Jeans tell you everything about someone’s life. Finding a jean allows me to take a step into the life someone lived.” A vintage jean reveals what kind of job someone had and testifies to some of the challenges that its wearer faced. So although jeans will never talk, they tell you more about someone’s life than you might think. So if you ask us about the true secret of jeans, we would tell you that it is that personal essence which creates their pure magic. If you and I start wearing a new pair of (rigid) jeans and we meet again in four years, our jeans will look totally different. They will reveal our personal DNA. At Tenue de Nîmes, we like to gather as much of those personal stories as possible, so we started an archive with some of the best denim fades and stories we encountered at the Tenue de Nîmes stores. We take pride in showing that good products will last a lifetime — in fact, they will only get better over time! To support that idea we will share with you some of the most astonishing denim ‘projects’ we came across during the last couple of months on our blog and on Instagram. ≠It would be great to see your jeans too! Share your pair with us by tagging it #FadeTenuedeNimes @tenuedenimes. Twice a year we will publish the very best in our Journal de Nîmes. Below you find two of the best ‘work-wear’ we have seen in some time, as presented to us by graphic designer David Kleppe and window cleaner Alex Everdij. .

Name: Alex Everdij Profession: Window Cleaner Jeans: Tenue de Nîmes Pablo ‘Dead Stock Blue’ Appr. Date of Purchase: February 2016 Treatment: 1 soak in salt water Best memory wearing the jeans: Working in them every single day! They feel like a second skin. They are just so comfortable and easy to wear. Just perfect for my profession.

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FEATURE / Fade Tenue de Nîmes

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FEATURE / Fade Tenue de Nîmes

Name: David Kleppe Profession: Graphic Designer Jeans: RRL Rigid Low Straight Appr. Date of Purchase: January 2013 Treatment: 10 Hand-washes Best memory wearing the jeans: These jeans got their best fades while I was refurbishing my grandmother’s house.

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FEATURE / Fade Tenue de Nîmes

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INTRODUCTION/ Ree Projects

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INTRODUCTION/ Ree Projects

WRITTEN BY ANDREAS MUELLER IMAGES BY REE PROJECTS

The Netherlands isn’t exactly known as a cradle of artisanal luxury goods,

unlike Italy, France or even Britain, but with the increasing appreciation of the finer things in life, things are slowly taking a different turn. A manifestation of this new mindset is Ree Projects, an emerging luxury brand founded by Amsterdam-based designer Desiree Kleinen. Trained as a fashion designer, Kleinen honed her skills at a number of leading brands, and her latest venture is the outcome of a search for a new and personal definition of luxury. The concise collection of meticulously handcrafted bags is inspired by a zen aesthetic and the philosophy behind Japanese culture, and is captured by highquality and naturally tanned Italian leather. Ree Projects’ first collection is comprised of just five models: a tote bag, a bucket bag, a shoulder bag, and both a large and small-sized clutch. Each model comes in both black and camel, and is lined with leather. Ree Projects’ bags are available at select stores in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, but if you reside elsewhere, all items can also be purchased online.

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CITY REPORT / TOKYO

It’s now exactly 7 years ago that Luis Mendo made a City Report of Tokyo after his first visit to the Japanese capital. That’s where he became friends with Sophie Knight. Now Sophie is living in Amsterdam and Luis lives in Tokyo, creating bridges between the two cities, they created this selection of the best shops. Enjoy.

Tokyo

東京 TENUE DE NÎMES SHOPPING GUIDE

TEXT Sophie Knight

Aoyama

Ebisu & Shirokanedai

KAPITAL

HAIGHT & ASHBURY

"The Red Wing Store in Tokyo is so much more than just a just a boot store. Every single corner is so well designed: An Extra light switch near the mirror, repair corner, historical artefacts and of course lots of great Japanese Red Wing boots! A true heaven for the any boots aficionado!" 5-4-29, Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku

“Want to have an immersive retail experience like none other? Take off your shoes at the door and dive into Kapital’s multi-level flagship store, where you’ll be on sensory overload with all the goodies hanging from the ceiling, walls and dangling from the shelves.” Duffle with Kapital 2-24-2 Ebisuminami, Shibuya-ku Platina Outlet 5-18-18 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku

"The place to be for American and European 19th and 20th century vintage in Shimo. A must visit in Tokyo for both men and wom en since this store is considered one of the best in Japan’s capital! " 2−37−2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku

RED WING

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DRAWINGS Luis Mendo

Shimokitazawa

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CITY REPORT / TOKYO

Nakameguro

Jingumae

Ginza

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HUMAN MADE COLD COFFEE STORE

DOVER STREET MARKET & ROSE BAKERY

“Two stories of an amazing vintage treasure trove in a slightly surreal but creative setting: the floor is covered in gravel so you really feel like you’re outside or in someone’s garage. Owner Masaru Sakai is gracious and speaks English.” 1-27-12 Aobadai, Meguro-ku (Go up to 2F & 3F)

“Classic Americana finished with typically Japanese perfectionism. The latest project of A Bathing Ape’s Nigo, who still has his street cred cool.” 2-12-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

“Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo’s own personal wonderland. Seven floors of constantly revolving designer collections, from the cutting-edge must-haves to the fantastical but downright unwearable. Once you’re weary of trawling the racks, follow the heavenly smells to Rose Bakery on the 7th floor for a sugar revival. Extra credits if you find the shrine on the rooftop!” 6-9-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku

Koenji

Omotesando

VISVIM

EDO ANTIQUE MARKET

”You had me at the huge pile of shoes outside! Also great for vintage Ralph Lauren jumpers and Italian handbags.” 4-29-13 Koenjiminami, Suginami-ku

“From moccasins to suede fringed shoes, Visvim’s aesthetic is ethnic, rustic, wild and beautiful. An inspiring oasis on one of Tokyo’s busiest shopping streets.” 2F, Gyre building 5−10−1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

“Come here for antique kimono, jackets, pottery, cutlery and swords: be careful not to bring too much cash because it will soon evaporate. Or bring lots, and redecorate your house with Japanese goodies.” 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya-ku

RE’ALL VINTAGE

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Yoyogi Park

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DENIM HISTORY / Edwin Japan

Edwin was established in Japan 1947 and soon developed into a major dealer, bidding on American clothing after World War II.

Importing clothing and denim Edwi “Ueno America-ya” and “Maruser denim stores in Ja

Edwin

JAPAN Written by Olivier van der Hagen Images by Edwin Japan

E

dwin Jeans is a Japanese denim brand that takes its name from the product it makes. Shuffle the letters, flip one upside down and hey presto: denim becomes Edwin. Mr Tsunemi founded Edwin in 1947, making it a contemporary of Big John. Both brands had a similar start, although it was known Mr Tsunemi had a passion for American jeans heritage, and was one of the very first Japanese people with such a crush. He was ahead of his time with his washing and ageing of jeans in the 1940s. Not only that, the brand also blazed a trail with new and unique fits and designs. Edwin soon founded what is also referred to as “the queen of denim treatments”: the stone wash. By 1961 Mr Tsunemi achieved his ambition to create his own jeans. A mere two years later, he set a world record for the heaviest ring-spun denim jean (16oz). That made everyone sit up and really take notice of this brand that managed to unite innovation and authenticity. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Edwin jeans are flattered virtually every day of every year, even 60-odd years after it was founded. At Tenue de Nîmes. we’re proud to stock this legendary denim brand at both our Amsterdam stores.

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DENIM HISTORY / Edwin Japan

in stocked the goods at ru”, two of the original apan. In 1961 Edwin moved away from work-wear and concentrated on denim manufactured in Japan. During the 1970s, Edwin was the first company in the world to develop ‘vintage washes’ replicating faded jeans or work pants in order to give them a natural vintage look.

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BRAND PROFILE / Tenue de Nîmes by Seldom

Tenue de Nîmes Knitwear

by S EL D OM Written by Menno van Meurs Photography by Rene Strolenberg

I

n July 2016 we travelled to the Seldom factory in Rheinberg, Germany. Now, you might have an image of one of those ancient German knitting factories full of old looms and weaving machines, but Seldom is nothing like that. Although we expected dusty factory floors in 19th century building and rows of factory workers to match, we found the opposite: high-tech knitting machines, computerprogrammed patterns and just one obsessive technician overseeing every thread that comes out of it. So although Seldom knitwear has that beautiful classic hand-feel and represents a quality hardly ever seen these days, the techniques to get to that premium level of knitwear are rooted in computer code. Seldom is one of the very few brands in the world that actually knit their product, seamlessly, with computer programmed machinery. Every single pattern is based on a code that only one person at Seldom masters. When the code is put in the computer, it sends it to the knitting machine which starts knitting the complete garment in one piece! The only thing a human adds are the edges. A single Seldom sweater takes about an hour and a quarter to knit in the machine. This means that these machines can only produce 14 sweaters per day. According to Rolph Meissner, the founder of Seldom, a knitted garment consists of 85% technique and only 15% styling. Seldom tried to reduce all the details to a minimum, because it is only then that you start seeing the details that really matter. Every Seldom garment is reversible because it is completely symmetric and seamless. The brand uses special long-staple lightweight yarns that create a soft, durable and non-pilling sweater. Each garment is washed after it is made. This creates a slightly felted touch which we at Tenue de Nîmes refer to as “the Seldom hand-feel”. Since 2015, the brand uses only merino wool that has been certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standards and is exclusively produced for Seldom. To us, the greatest fun of knitting with these special machines is the ability to add custom details. For Tenue de Nîmes, Seldom developed a special long knit. Rolph told us that he would never be able to sell a single piece of it in Germany, but it was possible to make thanks to their computerprogrammed knitting machine. When you put in the right variables you can rest assured that the garment that comes out of the machine is what exactly what you wished it would be. The new Tenue de Nîmes x Seldom collection is now available in both Tenue de Nîmes stores.

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BRAND PROFILE / Tenue de Nîmes by Seldom

MADE IN GERMANY

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COLLABORATiON / Indigo Dyed Converse

Tenue de Nîmes

INDIGO DYED CONVERSE CHUCK TAY

Written by Menno van Meurs Photography by Julian Robling

Tenue de Nîmes launched a new collection of hand-dyed Indigo Converse

Chuck Taylor All Star ‘70s. This run of High Top Converse Chuck Taylor All Star 70’s were hand-dyed by artist Celia Geraedts in natural indigo from India. After dyeing, the sneakers were bathed in water and vinegar to make sure the shoes hold onto as much indigo as possible. Natural indigo does get slightly lighter over time, which is part of the character of indigo, just like denim. Every single shoe is unique thanks to the hand-dyeing process and it takes about four dips and four washes - which takes nearly four hours - to produce them. Each pair will come with a custom Tenue de Nîmes canvas shopper specially made for this collection, as well as a personal card from the artist on how the Indigo Chuck Taylor All Star ‘70s came to life. As of today the indigo Chuck Taylor All Star ‘70s are exclusively sold at Tenue de Nîmes in Amsterdam for €129.90. 78

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COLLABORATION / Indigo Dyed Converse

LOR ALL STAR 70s

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INTRODUCTION / EVERT GROOT -ÉTOFFE UNIQUE

EVERT GROOT -

WRITTEN BY MENNO VAN MEURS PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIAN ROBLING

Introduction

Linen

When you meet our good friend Evert Groot, you know instantly that there is no other dude like him. Self-made, independent, old-school and with that unique spark in his eyes — the kind of guy everybody feels connected to. Evert established his company in Amsterdam and soon gained the nick-name ‘King of Linen’, a reference to the European Quality Trademark ‘Masters of Linen’.

‘I always felt attracted to natural fabrics. I know I might offend the Tenue de Nîmes guys now, but in my opinion, linen is the best fabric of all. Linen has so much character and can funnily enough be compared to a human being. It wrinkles, it loses colour and fades — it’s so pure! We use the colour of the flax to get to what we call a toned-down colour. But they are all true colours, you see. Our specialty are stone-washed fabrics. We are tracking the ‘character’ of these fabrics from the moment the flax is harvested and the fabrics are woven in Belgium and France. The world’s most exquisite linen is made in an area between Cannes and Amsterdam. This particular part of Europe is known for its peatland, perfect to grow the flax plant.’

Evert grew up at the marketplace. At the age of 15 he started working for the legendary Jewish Piller brothers. He helped them to unpack their goods and got introduced to the world of exclusive fabrics and furs suppliers such as Berghaus. When he was 17, he had already caught the bug for selling fabric, and was next in line to take over the sales business which allowed the Piller brothers to develop fabric trade-shows abroad. He gave up on his plan to become a policeman, dropping out of the Dutch police academy, and followed his calling. The Piller brothers formed the basis of his education as a salesman, but after six years, at the age of 21, Evert had saved enough money to acquire his first 3000 meters of fabric. This is where he started his life as an independent fabric merchant.

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Stone washing ‘I always felt the urge to explain people how versatile most fabrics are, there are so many ways to use them. Linen, for instance works great in clothing because it’s highly isolating and super strong. That’s why the fabric is commonly used for furniture and of course in curtains as well. The magic of stone -washed linen to me is the fact that you basically take off the top layer of the fabric and spread the pigments through the fabric. This generates a natural melange which creates a lot of character. Besides linen, I also like to experiment with hemp which, although it looks flatter, is actually even rougher than linen. Generally speaking we specialise in the very best within every category. Because we sell directly to the consumer rather than to a store, we offer our ‘Champion’s League’ product at a whole-sale price point.’

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INTRODUCTION / EVERT GROOT -ÉTOFFE UNIQUE

- ÉTOFFE UNIQUE

Inspiration

People

Evert works with a broad range of clients and he gets to see a lot of beautiful properties around the world. ‘My most memorable job so far was the house of Amsterdam’s Major Eberhard van der Laan. A humongous Dutch canal house with high ceilings in the center of Amsterdam. But I also like the opposite: I once did an astonishing villa in Utrecht at ‘de Vegt’, which was built with concrete, glass and some wood. When you put the right linen curtains in a house like that, something magic happens. The fabric talks. I love that simplicity. To dare not to add anything, but simply trust the material. I also love working with designers like Eric Kuster, who buys my stone-washed linen too. It is so nice to see where a person like that takes my beloved fabrics.’

‘I met Frans Molenaar when I was having drinks at the Arc in Amsterdam. Frans caught me touching the curtains of the bar we were drinking at. I introduced myself and explained about my special interest in fabrics and I added that I really appreciated Mr. Molenaar’s work too. He instantly invited me to come and show him my portfolio. Everything went very fast after that. Three months later Molenaar was doing his 90th show and he bought silk for the last dress of that memorable night. I had a plan with Frans to celebrate his 100th show with a special collection of wool and Harris tweed. He wanted to collaborate on a broader spectrum, also touching on interior design. Unfortunately he is not with us anymore. Frans was like a grandfather to me; the kind of person that provides you with wisdom. He taught me to move on and always said to me that at the end of the day, we are all just human beings of flesh and blood.’

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MUSIC / Tenue de Nîmes Playlist

Tenue de Nîmes Playlist BY RUDY ROSS

De La Soul - And the Anonymous Nobody

Solange - A Seat At The Table

Written by Rudy Ross Band Of Horses - Why Are You Ok After Band Of Horses' last effort, Mirage Rock, which felt like a record with lots of mixed feelings, confusion and almost a forced release, Why Are You Ok is a confident rocker. Their fifth album opens up in a comfortable bubble with the first number on the record being a two track-sequel. In ‘Dull Times / The Moon’, Ben Bridwells' voice floats on top of a spacey backing track that suggests a warm desert wind, and then finds its way into a big rock anthem that elevates you from your seat. The strength of BoH, which can be heard on all their albums, is the strong impact of three guitar players who find the perfect balance between intimate folky porch-ballads and seventies big-rock. One we haven’t heard since the ‘70s greats like Eagles, CSNY, Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, to name a few. On Why Are You Ok, one of the highlights is the folky Solemn Oath. Catchy, uplifting and progressions that go skyhigh. Casual Party is a three-minute rock anthem. Clearly the hit on the record, it gives you a sense of a Saturday night rush. The Eagles oozes through in the garage recording of pretty Country Teen. Whatever, Wherever, is a gorgeous piece of Beach Boys harmony-dreamlike summer smoothness. Yes, the mood throughout this album is very diverse. Every Band of Horses record feels like working at a secondhand recordstore with all the best of the past. You gotta love it.

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Solange made clear it was crucial to her to show her roots in her music, so as well as including recordings of her parents, a large deal of A Seat at the Table was created in Louisiana. Besides the family roots, you can clearly see structures and melodies derived from the history of popular black music, from the likes of Angie Stone, Janet Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Curtis Mayfield and Betty Davis. The bandleader and co-producer of the record is Raphael Saadiq, a creative mastermind that brings the best together with Solange. Future and past meets in strong soul instrumentation with futuristic studio production. A very spiritual record with a lot of layers, it might need some time to grow on you. But for sure, it will.

The Growlers - City Club Everything about The Growlers oozes the sunny state of California. Where they gave us four albums in the past that made you feel the hot sticky beach sand sticking to your toes and had you looking upwards searching for the Palm Beach palm trees, they now have you searching for the cold and rainy skyscrapers and neon-bright nightclubs of New York. After performing together with the personification of New York, Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) on the annual Beach Goth festival (hosted by The Growlers), Julian took the wheel for the production and recording of their latest effort City Club. They’ve lost their shabby shakey 60’s garage surf-rock swirl and gotten tighter, cleaner and way more poppy. Big Sounds, heavy synths, driving bass-lines and snotty monotone vocals recalls an early Strokes memory. But nothing about this is bad, everything in me loves this earthquake shift in their sound. They might’ve lost some fans but in my opinion, who gives a...!? Between all the bombastic big city sounds (Dope On A Rope, City Club) there are some fragile and endearing lighter moments, like When You Were Made, which take this album to higher levels.

More than 30 years after their debut album 3 Feet High And Rising changed the boundaries of the impact which a rap record could have, and 12 years since their last effort, The Impossible Mission, De La Soul can still be seen as ambitious smart-asses. This time they sampled their own beats and breaks by jamming over 200 hours with a live recording band and trawling through each and every minute of tape for the best bits and pieces. Then they packed it through the roof, with guest artists like Damon Albarn (Blur), Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Usher, Roc Marciano and Jill Scott. This whole enterprise was financed by a Kickstarter campaign — something you wouldn’t have thought of back in the 90’s. Being goofy and not giving a damn on how or what hiphop should sound like is exactly the strength of De La Soul, and that’s how they’ve maintained such cult status. I’m awaiting A Tribe Called Quest's newest effort to see the light of day at the end of this year — then we will have come full circle with hip-hop’s classics for 2016. Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run (Book)

Wilco - Schmilco Wilco’s 10th album Schmilco has a very pleasant nostalgic burden within it. The songs on Schmilco are bittersweet, uplifting and give you that familiar awkward depressive happiness we've all endured in our adolescence existence. This band effort feels slightly more like a solo album from Jeff Tweedy (Wilco’s frontman) since it’s largely acoustic with a barefaced production and sweet melodies that have you craving an autumn Sunday. These veterans of Alt. Country, or maybe even Art Country, may have made their masterpiece over 14 years ago with Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, but with Schmilco they’ve never sounded so well balanced, laidback and comfortably lazy. A perfect equilibrium between 3-minute pop songs and stretched freak-outs by lead guitarist Nels Cline, Schmilco succeeds in sketching its freewheeling yet sophisticated Americana scenery.

The book Born To Run sheds a light on the life of Bruce Springsteen from the days of roaming the neighboorhood streets where he grewup until now. He tells all about his days battling with depression, and his drive to perform. His work ethic was born on the streets of New Jersey during his blue-collar upbringing. Springsteen's epic three and four hours live shows offer him "mind-clearing, cathartic pleasure and privilege" in return. I enjoy every sentence of his poetic proza of the first few chapters. His lyrical writing is such an pleasure to read, it’s an addiction. A lot is explained in Born To Run, including things known by few of the millions for whom Springsteen is a promising messiah-like force. His stories on his side of darkness, self-help and medication are somewhere between prolific and reflective. Feeling perfectly safe in front of thousands, but in angst when off-stage, Springsteen is sincere in his writing and doesn’t come of as shy as a writer. I still need to reach the end of the book but this might become my favorite musical memoire since Motley Crue’s The Dirt. All Hail the King! JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE


MUSIC / Tenue de Nîmes Playlist

Warpaint - Heads Up

Dawes - We’re All Gonna Die Goddamn. When your favorite band changes up their sound, it hits hard. Exactly that one thing that makes me love them love the most has disappeared on their fifth album, We’re All Gonna Die. The airy breezy L.A. sound, those harmony vocals that bring back the late greats of seventies California vibes... are gone. Or is it? I always thought they were radio friendly (at least for the US; in the Netherlands we have shit for radio). But now Dawes are back with a big FM-radio polished sound. A clear, crisp & clean sound with synths, multi vocal harmonics and even some drum computers. But then I asked myself if it was a bad thing that they’ve hit something clearly Dawes, where in the past we always spoke of the inspirations they took from the Californian history? And I realized we can’t sell them short now. We owe to them to open up ears and eyes and get to know them as they are, as they always have been. Proud as I can be, I can tell you they are still my favorite band. With a album title that dark the album sounds remarkably uplifting. Songs like You Gotta To Roll with the Punches and When The Tequila Runs Out have a refreshing upbeat to them. Title track We’re All Gonna Die has a remarkable dark tone to it but shows that specific Taylor Goldsmith lyrical twist in the end: he is a true master of words. Overall this album has an upbeat and contagious swing to it. Throw in some Mexicali brass in As If By Design and they’re all you need.

Warpaint’s third album Heads Up will not be a game changer for L.A’s slow rock quartet but it does make sure they will be settled in the music history’s mind. This one states that they’re here to stay. What a Rock of Ages of an album; steady, slow and dark. They touch base with hip-hop and R&B but keep one foot in grungy slow punk. These four ladies have made a niche for themselves where no one has dared to leap into. Opening track WhiteOut starts with an R&Bish beat but after the first bar, in comes the slow pitched guitars and vocals setting a different tone. Following track By Your Side sets a shadowy scene with soothing vocals, dark synths and and loopy distorted drums. New Song was released as the first single of Heads Up, instantly creating many different opinions, since it’s much more dance-pop than ever for Warpaint's repertoire. The bouncy thumping dance beat is nothing more than a refreshing light that sheds on the overall. It’s a pleasant odd duck on the album that fits in perfectly after a few listens. Without loosing my cool I dare to tell you that the oozy and hypnotizing harmonics that fade way into the hypnotizing looped beats have given me goosebumps everytime I put on my headphones. Heads Up is gloomy and dark as well as uplifting at the same time thanks to the brilliant songwriting and even more genius production. Hiss Golden Messenger - Heart Like a Levee

Blood Orange - Freetown Sound Formerly known as Lightspeed Champion, I got to know about Dev Hynes when he played in a punk-rock band Test Icicles, before he changed his musical outputs into folk/pop. I did not know of Blood Orange until his third album Freetown Sound and would’ve never believed it was him. If you take the first two albums in retrospective, the progression towards 80’s new wave, soul/funk and electro is more obvious. And now it has matured to a coherent sound of funk and 80’s R&B. It’s too easy to say that we hear a nostalgic version of Prince on the first listen, where the initial impression is of a range from high-pitched vocals down to a heavyset baritone, on festive yet monotone beats accompanied by slashy rhythms guitars. It also mimics another 80’s great, Michael Jackson, with tribal beats and tropical dance in Best of You. The depth is added by the lyrical content, much of which traces critical events that have happened over the past years. The Orlando shooting in June 2o16, the Black Lives Matter Movement fueled by daily tragic happenings and also the imminent departure of the UK (where Dev Hynes has his roots) from the EU, leaves a trail of racial issues. Freetown Sound has an urgency to it. It needs to be devoured, shown appreciation and understood. Much like D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, it has many depths and shows us the signs of social sensitivity and racial inequality.

JOURNAL DE NÎMES Nº 13 — THE AMEKAJI ISSUE

Fuck yes. That was my first feeling when listening to Biloxi, the opening track of Heart Like a Levee. As a singer-songwriter praised and loved by everyone, M.C Taylor’s fifth release as Hiss Golden Messenger steps up his game. He has formed a supergroup around him: soul brothers Brad and Phil Cook, bassist and multi-instrumentalist, respectively, who are also the band Megafaun. And with Bon Iver’s Matt McCaughan on drums, Taylor floats on top of steady stream of southern soulful Americana. Goddamn, goddamn, I love this album. Every Saturday at Tenue de Nîmes, we start off with his gospel-like tunes. His music brings joy, happiness, love and it soothes the pain when things have gone wrong. On Heart Like A Levee, Taylor gently steers away from the Alt. Country heard on his former albums and drives it towards the rich southern soul sound of Muscle Shoals, Tennessee, of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Muscle Shoals is known for its rich history of southern music by Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers and Wilson Pickett. These were referred to as "the Swampers" by Lynyrd Skynyrd in Sweet Home Alabama. It’s the magical place where Duane Allman of Allman Brothers Band came to play lead guitar on Wilson Pickett's cover version of The Beatles' Hey Jude. M.C. Taylor is a gifted and talented frontman, and a veteran when it comes to live performances: he once set fire to David Letterman’s Late Show when he played a funky version of “Southern Grammar”, filled up with horns, soul choir and upbeat drums. Letterman couldn’t stop shouting “Oh My God!” for two minutes straight. This is what Taylor does best: praising the Lord’s sweet southern soul through the gospel of real great music.

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Journal de Nîmes Nº13