BackgroundAs one of the founders of House of Denim, a platform dedicated to the sustainable development of premium denim, Dutch-English Veenhoff has been a devoted advocate of craftsmanship and creativity in a city that's on the rise as the denim capital of the world.
With a background in finance, James Veenhoff never really considered a career in fashion. So when the CEO of Pepe Jeans offered him a job after he finished university, Veenhoff couldn't have imagined the fashion industry 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.”
Godfather of DenimAfter successfully launching the Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2004, an internationally renowned fashion event that's still held twice a year, Veenhoff decided to take on a new challenge. In 2009, by that time running his own consultancy company Fronteer Strategy, he founded House of Denim, together with Mariette Hoitink, owner of HTNK fashion recruitment & consultancy. “The idea of House of Denim was to create a denim institute focused on education, research & 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.” Now, five years later, House of Denim has grown beyond anyone's expectations, even Veenhoff's. Besides founding 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 the Amsterdam Denim Days, a new biannual event for industry experts and denim lovers alike. “The first edition was a huge success,” Veenhoff says proudly. “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 winks.
Huge talent pool
And it's not just the Denim Days making Amsterdam a hub for the international denim scene. The creation of the new Denim City Headquarters, a huge campus for the creation of denim, will make Amsterdam the world's denim capital, Veenhoff predicts. “This headquarters is going to attract innovators, experts, eager students and many others. It's going to be an incredibly inspiring place for anyone who's affiliated with denim in any way.” Since big brands like Tommy Hilfiger which have their Global headquarters in Amsterdam, G-Star and Scotch & Soda who have already set up their European headquarters in Amsterdam, there is another advantage for potential newcomers.
“Brands 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.” 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: to create beautiful, innovative and sustainable denim.”