Jason Denham

It couldn’t have been anything else but destiny for Jason Denham. His family name pronounced ‘denim’; this creative entrepreneur is one of the leading jeans designers in the Netherlands. Not only does Denham’s experience include founding internationally successful label Blue Blood, designing with Pepe jeans, and for Bono from U2, but at the age of 29, he founded CLINIC+, an innovative denim design consulting agency.

Services include denim development with leading denim mills, brand creation, product design, pattern cutting, graphic art direction, and global factory sourcing. Clients included LVMH, Swift denim Europe and Kuyichi. Today, Jason Denham launches his brand with a signature collection for Spring 2009.

“Our motto as a design team is to ‘worship tradition’ and ‘destroy convention’.”

Format: Denham has now launched its inaugural Spring 2009 collection. What made you decide to launch a new denim brand in this stage of your career?
Jason Denham: I decided to launch a new denim brand because the timing was perfect. In January 2008 I visited Japan, USA and Europe and it became obvious to me that it was time for a new face in the jeans market. Nothing excited me, the jeans market works in cycles – Scandinavia has led the market for the last five years, California five years before this and Japan five years before that. I believe that northern Europe will be the new leader and Amsterdam is fast becoming the jeans capital of Europe.

Format: Denham Design – Denim Integrity. What is Denim Integrity? Please explain.
Jason Denham: In one word, ‘balance.’ Denham Design is our handwriting; it is modernity and invention. Denim Integrity is the understanding and knowledge of denim products, history, fabric, laundering, etc. Our motto as a design team is to ‘worship tradition’ and ‘destroy convention’.

Format: Your family name is, in fact, Denham pronounced the same as ‘Denim’. Was your family also involved in the denim business?
Jason Denham: No, my family was never in the business. I studied at Manchester University, England. I learned my trade in the industry. I have never missed a season or collection in 15 years.

Format: What makes Amsterdam the “jeans capital of Europe”?
Jason Denham: Amsterdam has a jeans culture mentality. I have been living in this city for more than a decade and I have watched this city become more international every year. Amsterdam is full of creatives and opinion leaders; Amsterdam is a young city with many ad agencies, music companies and opinion leaders. There are new stores opening on regular basis and the ‘Nine Streets’ area is fast becoming a destination denim centre.

Format: What is the difference between a $150 pair of jeans and a $500 pair of jeans from your collection?
Jason Denham: Our Jeans are all made with Denham Design Denim Integrity, the difference in price is made by the fabric and washing. The Japanese make the most beautiful denim in the world. This is the most expensive.

Format: How does The Netherlands streetwear scene differ from that of the U.S. and Japan?
Jason Denham: The music culture and opinion leaders are different in every continent. These are the driving forces in trends.

Format: You’ve talked previously about a balance of ingredients making the perfect pair of jeans. Please tell us what ingredients go into a pair of Denham jeans. Is there a special ingredient?
Jason Denham: The secret ingredient for creating a great jean is knowing when to take your pencil off the paper and stop designing. This is the balance or the measure of a good and bad jean.

Format: You will be opening up your first retail doors this month in Amsterdam’s “Nine Streets” district. It’s said to be a gallery boutique denim store. Why did you choose this area in Amsterdam and please tell us about the space and how it differs from any other denim retailer.
Jason Denham: The Nine Streets area is refreshing because it is more creative. The stores are mostly small independent or cool multi brand concepts. We prefer to sit in this location instead of the flashy PC Hooftstraat or snobby Cornelius Schuytstraat. Our store presentation is gallery style. We have split the space into four areas, (1) the gallery reception (2) Denham Accessories (3) The Blue room (4) Fitting rooms. The store is interactive with the showrooms and design studio. Glass walls separate each area.

Format: You’ve founded a number of denim companies including CLINIC+, Blue Blood, and Denham. Which has been your most successful venture to date and why?
Jason Denham: I am very proud of all my ventures. I love my work and have given every project everything I have. There is a line in this business, “ you are only as good as your last season” which I believe in. Last seasons Denham collection is the best I have ever made. Today I am working with a fantastic team that will collectively make a denim statement for the future.

Format: How does Blue Blood differ from Denham?
Jason Denham: Early Blue Blood and the jeans part of Blue Blood are my handwriting. This spirit lives on in the Denham collection. The trend direction of Blue Blood and Denham is very different. Denham is number one a denim brand and will always remain this way.

Format: You founded a specialist creative denim agency called CLINIC+ where you advised on all aspects of the creative denim business. Please tell us how you came up with this concept.
Jason Denham: I planned it from my first day in work after university. The denim business is one of the biggest industries in the world with so few skilled players. I realized this from an early age and planned to set this company up while I was still in my twenties. Clinic+ was born when I was 29 years old.

Format: Your product is produced in Japan and Italy. Tell us about Hiro and how you met him.
Jason Denham: Hiro is a guy who is a denim lover. Denham’s Japanese selvedge is crafted with Hiro and he is also a sake maker. To celebrate the launch of Denham, Hiro has gifted us 100 bottles of the finest exclusive Denham branded sake. This is the first ever export of his family sake outside Japan since seven generations. We met through a mutual friend on a trip to Asia.

Format: You’re currently working to restyle the iconic 1939 ‘happiest shoe in the world.’ Please tell us about your collaboration with Jack Purcell.
Jason Denham: We love Jack Purcell, its iconic – we are talking with our friends in Converse but nothing is finalized yet so we cannot give anything away.

Format: Are there any other collabos in the works?
Jason Denham: Today we are focusing on our own brand but for sure we are open to collaborations in the future.

Format: What does the future hold for Denham?
Jason Denham: Continue living the dream.

Jules C

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