J U L Y 2 8 , 2 9 & 3 0
A little bit about the man behind Denim Bruin
Mark has lived in San Francisco for about 25 years, and has been a gardener for most of that time. Denim has always been a passion and hobby for him—he does not have a financial interest in the industry. He runs denimbro.com and Denim Bruin for the interest of other fans of unique and quality made denim & workwear. Mark tries to keep both ventures as marketing-free as possible, “although, in this day and age, that line gets rather blurry”.
The initial concept and philosophy of Denim Bruin
The origin of Denim Bruin was to provide a showcase for Michael and Charla Harris to display their collection of late 19th and early 20th century American workwear. Their carefully curated collection changes greatly over time, as they find new pieces and sell others to collectors. At the time (2010), they had a large selection of items, and quite a few examples of very early denim. These denim items were of special interest to Mark Randal, so he decided to arrange a showing of these rare and unique pieces in San Francisco.
Mark’s friend Roy Slaper, a local jean maker, expressed interest in being involved, and arranged for a fine gallery space in Oakland for the Harris’ to show their collection. He also made quite a few of the decorative items for that first year, including the official Denim Bruin Flag, and he also volunteered to MC the event.
The Harris’ and Mark were involved in some online forums at that time-denimbro & superfuture. Since many of their friends from these forums expressed interest in coming to San Francisco for the event, he decided to try and give them a little more “bang for their buck”. This was when Mark approached Howard Gee, the owner of AB Fits in San Francisco's North Beach, about hosting another night of events. As Howard owns the longest running denim shop in the city, and has a special interest in Made in America denim, Mark felt he and his shop would be a great match. Howard happily agreed. Together, they developed a short list of manufacturers that they wanted to showcase at the event. Mister Freedom, Rising Sun, and Levis Vintage Clothing were among the exhibitors that first year.
As the events of that first year were surprisingly well attended and greatly appreciated, Mark and his group of enthusiastic and talented denim historians, manufacturers, and retailers decided to keep doing it as long as it was feasible. Over the years, the core planning and instigation group has evolved from the Harris’, Howard, Roy, and of course Mark, to include Standard & Strange, Nicholas Hollows, Levis Vintage Clothing, Kevin Mosley, and Florian Bertmer. Denim Bruin wouldn't be the same without them.
A question for Mark about his decision to continue Denim Bruin this year: What changed your mind?
“I was sort of worn out-truth be told. Denim Bruin planning is not physically demanding; however, the logistics and trying to keep participants to deadlines has turned out to require a lot more mental energy than I had initially realized.”
“A few key people from last year expressed a keen interest in continuing Denim Bruin; so here we are, for at least one more year.”
The new format for Denim Buin 2017, how will it be different from past Denim Bruin events?
There was to be a new format this year. Friday was to be a private event for long-term Denim Bruin attendees and exhibitors, offering them an opportunity to mingle in a low-key atmosphere. It was going to have some nice surprises-a live sewing demonstration, several talented (and actually, rather well-known) musicians (and denimbros), and a Dutch Tattooist (also a denimbro) doing what they do best during the event. Sadly, one by one, they became unable to attend.
But then-Michael Harris found some new items of clothing that he was especially excited about. His finds were so inspiring that he asked Mark about showing them this year. So, with that proposal, Denim Bruin has reverted to its original format.
Actually, Mark is pleased that things turned out this way, as “it will be nice to go out on a similar note to the first year-if this turns out to be Denim Bruin's swan song!”