When it comes to denim, Amsterdam is the place to be

It's the birthplace of denim innovators like G-Star RAW and Scotch & Soda and the European hub of internationally established brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and now Amsterdam is launching the first ever Denim City Headquarters. It takes one look at the streets of Amsterdam to know: these people sure love their denim. With an average of five pairs of jeans per person, Amsterdam natives are leading the global charts when it comes to denim ownership. But it’s not just the inhabitants who see the value of a proper pair of jeans.

Amsterdam has been a design & development mecca for a variety of denim brands for years and can now claim one of the highest densities of denim companies in the world. Not only did Dutch brands like G-Star RAW, Scotch & Soda, KOI and Denham the Jeanmaker start their denim empire here, internationally acclaimed labels like Calvin Klein have also recognised Amsterdam’s pivotal position in the denim sector, by opting to open a European Headquarters in the Dutch capital. They will be joining Tommy Hilfiger Denim and Pepe Jeans, the denim veterans that have long been present in the region.

Innovation platform

Looking at Amsterdam’s position as a denim nerve centre, it only made sense to also incorporate an actual denim campus, where both new talent and established brands could come together and work on a brighter blue future. With the opening of Amsterdam Denim Headquarters in the spring of 2015, this is becoming reality. 

Aiming to connect and inspire all players in the denim industry, it was Amsterdam’s House of Denim Foundation, founded by James Veenhoff and Mariette Hoitink, that came up with the idea of creating a denim campus. “We were looking for a place where we could bring new talent and established brands together,” James Veenhoff explains. “There’s such an incredible talent pool in this city when it comes to denim, it would be a waste if we didn’t share that knowledge and build a platform for further innovation.”

The Denim Headquarters operate as a campus for denim craftsmanship, enterprise and sustainable innovation, housed in De Hallen, the former tram-works on Amsterdam’s Kinkerstraat. It consists of six independent but collaborating parts, including a workshop training centre, a denim archive, a clean laundry expertise lab and an embassy for the international denim community.

Denim domination

As far as Veenhoff’s concerned, Amsterdam Denim Headquarters is creating some interesting opportunities for the denim industry. “This campus is attracting innovators, experts, eager students and many others. It’s an incredibly inspiring place for anyone who’s affiliated with denim in any way.” Since many international players have already set up their European Headquarters in Amsterdam, there's another advantage for potential newcomers. Veenhoff: “Brands and Denim mills that are considering a move to Amsterdam will have an incredible talent pool at their disposal. From design and development to merchandise and social media: all the know-how is already here.”

Amsterdam’s rise to denim domination is being recognised around the world, Veenhoff observes. “After the our first edition of the bi-annual Amsterdam Kingpins show and annual Amsterdam Denim Days May 2014, Adriano Goldschmied – internationally considered the Godfather of Denim – called Amsterdam the new place to be when it comes to denim. And when he says it, you know it’s true!”