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Denim Days 2018: A closer look at craftsmanship in the denim industry

By Huw Hughes


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When buying denim - or any garment for that matter - it’s often easy to overlook the small intricacies that go into the production process. At Denim Days 2018 - the denim festival running from 27-28 October at Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam - visitors were offered an inside look at the craftsmanship that goes into denim making.

At Bossa Denim’s booth, Turkish artist Deniz Sağdıç was giving an open workshop to demonstrate the versatility of denim as a tool in art. Sağdıç was asking visitors to help her create her newest piece of art, an on-the-spot portrait made using Bossa’s old garments. “This one we’ve done over the last two days, and it should be finished by the end of today,” she told FashionUnited. “I’ve created the outline and we’re asking people to help fill it in by sticking on the denim to create the details.”

A first-hand look at craftsmanship in the denim industry


At Atelier Reservé’s booth, designer of the brand, Deyrinio Fraenk, was carefully taking apart a denim jacket which he would then use to create a new, custom piece. “Right now I’m just pulling it apart - this part can take a while - then we create new designs, like the ones over there,” he said, pointing to a clothes rack lined with one-of-a-kind trench coats, jackets, and kimonos. “We have a lot of business in Asia - China, Hong Kong, Shanghai. There seems to be a bigger market for this type of work over there - vintage, bright and bold designs,” he said. The upcycled clothing brand uses recycled fabric to create designs that bring together old and new; East and West.

Traditional methods meet new innovation

Zunia Pascal, an ex-student of the Jean School - Denim City, was busy drawing a free-hand design onto the back pocket of a pair of denim jeans. “Most of the time brands wouldn’t make designs freehand like this, they’d use machines,” she said. “But today I’m working with labels to give more detailed, specific hand drawn designs. Denim Days is a great space for creativity.”


At Blue Print Amsterdam’s booth, the team was giving a workshop on denim dyeing, using the traditional hand-dyeing methods they still practice. Specialising in handmade prints and bespoke products, the design studio was offering visitors a hands-on experience of the dyeing process. “Most places don’t do it like this anymore - they do it in mass,” said Iris, a designer at Blue Print Amsterdam. “We are a small team but we do everything carefully and by hand. We use old methods in a contemporary way.” Guests were given pre-cut un-dyed bandanas which they then dyed themselves, using the methods Iris and her team use in their studio.


A hands-on experience for Denim Days visitors

At Swedish label Nudie Jeans’ booth, product coordinator of their 'Reuse' programme, Mike, was busy finishing sewing an anchor design into a child’s denim jacket. “Our Reuse programme basically takes salvaged jeans and repairs them, often adding custom sewed designs, he said. “I can be creative as I want with the designs. This one took me eight hours, for example,” he said, pointing at a bumblebee design stitched on the back of a denim jacket.

At Jonathan Christopher’s booth, he was demonstrating the process of printing on denim. “So I do the designs here on my Ipad, then I put them on the computer, choose what type of oil I use, the plotter cuts it out and then we press iron it,” he said. “This design took me about half a day,” He added. “All the designs I hand draw with the help of a tattoo artist.”

Photo credit: FashionUnited