LOS ANGELES — After expanding to 17 countries in its four-year history, Dutch premium denim brand Denham is launching its wholesale business in the U.S. this spring.
Denham, founded by British designer Jason Denham, jump-started its U.S. entry with the opening of a shop-in-shop Friday at American Rag Cie here. Distinguished by fixtures shaped like its scissors logo, the retail space represents Denham’s design duality in tailored and casual looks that follow a clean, modern aesthetic. In addition to $330 women’s silk crepe blazers and $180 men’s button-down shirts with hidden collar buttons, there are women’s skinny jeans in foam-dyed sateen and men’s cargo pants cut out of five-ounce Japanese denim, both retailing for $210.
“It’s very competitive but there’s also room for newness,” Denham said of the U.S. market. “It’s such an important market, we wanted to wait and find the perfect partner.”
While American Rag represents its first official retail partner, Denham said he’s open to working with a showroom, sales representative or another company to set up a joint venture for the U.S. With 60 employees, Denham posts annual sales of 15 million euros, or $19.8 million at current exchange. Operating stores in Tokyo, London and its home base of Amsterdam, Denham is also keen on opening a retail unit in the U.S. within two years so that it can fully display the 250 styles it offers each season. In addition to jeans and sportswear, it also makes bags, scarves and hats, which retail for between $100 and $600. Denham said he’s also considering starting manufacturing in the U.S. with American-made fabrics to supplement the production he does in Amsterdam, Italy, Japan and China with Italian and Japanese textiles.
Denham’s current retail distribution includes Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in London, Isetan and Barneys New York in Tokyo and Le Bon Marché in Paris. It also sells to San Francisco-based specialty store Revolver, which isn’t an official wholesale account because it acquired its stock by visiting Denham’s Amsterdam store and buying garments to fill the empty suitcases buyers brought with them.
Denham hopes other stores will be just as motivated to take an interest in his brand, despite the challenges at retail. “In a recession, new products and new brands can jump out,” he said.