Amsterdam’s Denham the Jeanmaker is expanding its local retail footprint as it prepares to accelerate what’s been a deliberate global rollout in its first five years in business.
The company this month opened its third Amsterdam store, and seventh overall, near the city’s Hooftstraat shopping area. The 2,700-square-foot, three-story space will feature the most extensive collection of Denham’s jeans and sportswear to date with women’s wear in an upstairs penthouse, men’s items in the basement and a mix of products, including the company’s new Private Wardrobe concept, on the main floor. That area will feature one-of-a-kind Denham products, a sampling of merchandise from other brands; works from various street artists; archival touches such as the brand’s signature tailor’s scissors and its recently published anniversary retrospective book, and, for those with some extra time on their hands, a sake bar with more than 600 bottles developed by one of the firm’s Japanese business associates.
The store will also serve as a local drop-off point for the firm’s Denham Service Co., which provides repairs and alterations. “The store’s too small for its own shop, but it’s an eight-minute walk from our headquarters and we have a courier service that goes back and forth,” said Jason Denham, founder of the firm, making sure to balance the emphasis on local amenities with the fact that Denham offers the same services in its London and Tokyo stores.
Yet the emphasis on local touches belies a business that is beginning to demonstrate global momentum. With annual sales of 20 million euros, or about $25.7 million at current exchange, Denham, with its emphasis on both denim’s modernity and its heritage, is now distributed to about 500 wholesale customers in 22 countries and is actively looking to expand.
“We’re in the early stages of talks with people who might be interested in bringing us to the U.S.,” Denham said, “and we’re exploring the possibility of a joint venture in Japan which might see us expand to up to 20 stores there in the next few years.” There are currently three stores in Japan and one in London, in addition to the Amsterdam units.
So far, distribution in the U.S. is relegated to its relationship with Mark Werts’ American Rag Cie. “That’s been a great association,” Denham said. “I know that the U.S. is an incredibly difficult market but also a fantastic market if you do it right, so I’d want to do it in the right way with the right people and the right tools.
“Retailing is extremely important to us because we’re a storytelling brand and retailing is the best stage on which to tell a story,” he added. “We’re looking for new locations in the U.K., and my guess right now is that our next location will probably be in Germany, which is like the U.S. in that it’s really six or seven countries in one.”
Possible locations include Munich, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, he said.
About 70 percent of the company’s denim comes from Italy and the remainder from Japan. But it’s recently made an addition, adding its first U.S. supplier, Cone Mills.
The line is predominantly denim and steeped in the denim heritage of which its founder is an avid student. “Jeans is the headline, but we’re very strong on outerwear, shirting and T-shirts,” Denham said. “We’re having a great time right now with a tailored jeanswear selection within the collection. This type of expansion is part of our brand strategy.”