Jason Denham is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of DENHAM the Jeanmaker, an Amsterdam-based denim brand.
Born and raised in Newcastle, England, Denham's passion for design began as a teenager. While studying Fashion Design and Business at the University of Manchester, he "experimented with fashion in a big way" and "tailor-made every project into a denim project." Upon graduation in 1992 he won a competition to intern for renowned English designer Joe Casely-Hayford, who at the time was making jeans for the Irish band U2 to wear on stage. "I would spend the whole night nailing rivets in the jeans; it was a great lesson," Denham recalls. He earned his stripes as an intern, and went on to work with numerous brands to learn the elements of jean making.
In 1996 Denham was hired by Pepe Jeans in London as a denim product manager, and was soon relocated to Amsterdam. He quickly fell in love with the city and its obsession for denim, combined with a laidback aesthetic. "People in Amsterdam wear jeans all day, every day," Denham says. "It's really become a jeans capital and there's a great denim community here."
In 1998 he established a denim agency, Clinic+, in Amsterdam, through which he consulted for various brands including LVMH, Kenzo, Levi's and Ben Sherman. Four years later, he founded the Blue Blood brand, which was an immediate hit in the Netherlands. "It was a great experience, but I always had a dream to create a label using my own family name," Denham says.
In 2008, he founded DENHAM the Jeanmaker. It is rooted in an obsession for premium quality product that balances innovation with a respect for tradition and attention to detail. Denham is hugely influenced by Japanese culture, retail practices and passion for product, and Asia remains a significant area of investment for the brand.
Today, DENHAM is sold in more than 20 countries globally. It is headquartered in Amsterdam, with satellite offices in Dusseldorf, Tokyo and Shanghai, and over 200 employees worldwide.
Denham lives in Amsterdam's Jordaan neighbourhood with his wife and daughter.
"My dream is to follow in the footsteps of the denim legends - the godfathers of our industry who have inspired me thus far. Adriano Goldschmied, Renzo Rosso, François Girbaud, Nigel Cabourn and Karl-Heinz Müller are the kings of the jeans and have inspired, directed and lead the trends for the last 30 years."
Things you'll find in his office
‘This is the oldest pair we have in our collection – it’s a French master tailor’s scissor,’ says Jason. ‘We think they’re from about 1550; in those days, scissors were operated by two people. Every star on the scissor tells you how qualified the tailor was.’ Made from heavy forged steel, the large central pin was held by an assistant who balanced the weight, while the master tailor worked the shears.
Jason witnessed these scissors being made, in person, on a trip to Tokyo. They were crafted by hand in a fire by Mr. Okawara, the last artisan who makes scissors using this traditional method. ‘He hammered them from one piece of steel, then hand-painted them in blue in white for DENHAM’s colours,’ Jason recalls. ‘They are also super, super sharp!’
Spin me around!
Jason received this spooky skull as a gift from Kidrobot. It was a limited-edition piece, made in 2010 with Russ Karablin of streetwear label SSUR. Look around Jason’s office and you might spot a few other pieces from Kidrobot.
Japanese Lucky Charm
The DENHAM Japan team sent this Japanese collectible to Jason when his daughter was born. ‘They said it would bring her eternal happiness,’ Jason recalls.
‘So Mao was a pretty rotten dictator, but he always wore the same jacket,’ says Jason about the Chinese revolutionary. ‘That style of jacket has since inspired many pieces in our collection. We love looking back at vintage pieces and reinventing them for today.’