Amsterdam is a global denim capital
Look around and you’ll see it instantly: jeans are everywhere in Amsterdam. The city is filled with casual dressers who love combining comfort and style. Denim also plays a major role in the local fashion scene, where players like James Veenhoff are making waves.
As one of the founders of House of Denim, a platform dedicated to the sustainable development of premium denim, Veenhoff is a devoted advocate of craftsmanship and creativity. With a background in finance, he never really considered a career in fashion. So, when the CEO of Pepe Jeans offered him a job after he finished university, he couldn't have imagined the sector would become his field of expertise.
“Despite my lack of experience, I quickly learned to appreciate the industry,” he says. “During my time at Pepe, and later working for premium denim brands like Blue Blood and Evisu, I was pleasantly surprised by the dedication and craftsmanship of the people working in denim. It's almost an art form.”
Creating a denim empire in the Netherlands
After successfully launching Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2004, Veenhoff decided to take on a new challenge. In 2009, when he was running his own consultancy company Fronteer Strategy, he founded House of Denim with Mariette Hoitink, owner of HTNK, a fashion recruitment and consultancy. “The idea of House of Denim was to create a denim institute focused on education, research and development, enterprise and networking,” he explains.
“We wanted to create a platform for all the great denim brands that are already here, plus give new talent a place to learn and develop.” House of Denim has grown beyond anyone's expectations, even Veenhoff's. It now includes a special Jeans School, a workplace for young and established brands, and a development centre called Blue Lab. House of Denim is also the organiser of Amsterdam Denim Days, an event for industry experts and denim lovers alike.
Veenhoff’s hard work is paying off. The Dutch capital’s prominence as a hip fashion centre has been rising and people are taking notice. “Adriano Goldschmied, internationally considered the godfather of denim, even called Amsterdam the new place to be when it comes to denim. And when he says it, you know it's true,” Veenhoff says.
An incredible talent pool and loads of know-how
And it's not just Denim Days that's making Amsterdam a hub for the international scene. Denim City, an academy, lab, atelier and store dedicated to all things jeans, is shaking things up in a big way. Leading labels like Tommy Hilfiger, G-Star and Scotch & Soda have their European headquarters in Amsterdam as well. And Veenhoff thinks the city offers another major advantage.
And last but not least, Veenhoff specifically praises the attractive entrepreneurial climate in Amsterdam. “Unlike Milan and Paris, there's not a lot of rivalry here. Sure, everyone wants to be the best and most successful in what they do. But here, we like to work together, instead of against each other. Because in the end we all want the same thing: to create beautiful, innovative and sustainable denim.”
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