DENHAM Garment Library

Part of our design studio at our head office in Amsterdam is dedicated to housing the DENHAM Garment Library (aka ‘the DGL’). It’s a curated collection of vintage clothing, from Japanese workwear to World War II military uniforms, army surplus and travel gear. The DGL has taken decades to collect, and this growing archive is one of our largest sources of inspiration.

Each item in the library tells a unique story, and each represents a starting point for our collections. We love to examine, analyse and learn from each piece we collect. We study the heritage and character of the designs — the raw materials, the authentic details and tailoring traditions. Then we reimagine it all for today. We elevate the fabrics, we modernise elements of function, and we update fit. But we never copy-paste; we don’t reproduce someone else’s approach to design, even if that person’s name has long been lost to history.

Our obsession for vintage workwear is one of the core foundations of our brand; it’s all about striking the perfect balance between tradition and innovation. Our research feeds our passion to worship tradition, and we pair this with our vision to push boundaries and progress authentic design in the 21st century.

Want to learn more? Here are some of our favourite pieces from the DGL, as explained by our design team.

This Belstaff leather biker jacket was impeccably crafted in the 1950s. It features a fully welded construction, meaning the front and back were each made from one large panel and there are no shoulder seams. We love the asymmetrical front-pocket and its quilted interior.

These WWII military trousers were either American or English made. We love all the classic details: the huge cargo pockets, the reinforced knee patches, and the Velcro ankle straps designed for function. Since these trousers had to fit various men of many different sizes, they were made with a built-in fastening system on the waistline that acted as a belt (the interior is labelled ‘waist from 35 to 39’). These trousers inspired the fit and design of our Nato pant.

Found at the Old Spitalfields market in London, we instantly fell in love with this 19th century peasant shirt-dress and its layer-upon-layer patchwork repair. We think it was made for a child because of its small size — and as the child grew, extra fabric was added along the bottom to make it longer. It’s been naturally aged and faded by the sun.

This classic denim trucker jacket has inspired us in many ways, from its broken twill fabric, to the unique wash and fade to its cut lines, pockets and split seam work on the back. We think it’s from the 1960s, and the fabric has been lovingly repaired after wear-and-tear.

This British military jacket features a cropped silhouette, a style that was typically worn with high-waist trousers. It’s crafted from a Ventile type material which was developed in the UK as the first all-weather fabric; it’s made from densely woven cotton and provided excellent weather-proofing. The jacket has a mesh lining, a track bone with intertwined buttons, and a back flap that could be pulled all the way down to double as a seat cover.

Dating back to the 1960s, these overall shorts have all sorts of details that inspire us: natural seam abrasion, contrast white stitching, and a triple needle detail at the bottom hemline. The lightweight fabric has a vibrant blue wash with highs and lows throughout. These overalls were most likely American.