The beginning of denim bruin started back in 2012 and marked the first day of the celebration of denim. Who thought up this event and where did it all begin? I went back and asked Mark Randal, the guy who asked us at AB Fits if we would like to participate the first year and all the following.
How did Denimbruin begin and what were your goals with it?
Denimbruin began with a confluence of events involving my friends Michael and Charla Harris. They are collectors of early American workwear, mostly western brands that were manufactured between the 1870's and the 1920's. They were having several reproductions made from their collection. Many manufactured by small batch producers in San Francisco, and several were due for completion around the same time. The first Denimbruin was created to celebrate those releases.
I asked AB Fits if they might like to be involved. They were interested, and so we expanded the idea to include an event there that presented modern Californian manufacturers of higher end work wear and denim as a counter-point to our first planned event showing off Mike and Charla's collection of vintage clothing.
How did you meet Michael and Charla Harris?
I met Michael first, on Superfuture denim forum, and took a liking to him. I arranged a showing of some of his collection and a signing of his book Jeans of the Old West at Unionmade in SF, which I suppose was a precursor to the Denimbruin format. I met Charla in person shortly thereafter at Inspiration LA.
Wonderful people, both, and refreshingly down-to-earth.
Do you think Denimbruin has evolved and how?
Absolutely - the first Denimbruin was almost entirely made in California brands (hence the name Denimbruin, referring to our state mascot, the Grizzly Bear). Since then we've expanded the idea to include companies and artisans from all over the world who produce quality denim and work wear-influenced clothing.
We also have held events at a variety of spaces, always trying to offer at least one new venue per year. AB Fits and Standard & Strange have become a real part of the family and I wouldn't care to have a Denimbruin without them.
This year Reliquary, in Hayes Valley, is our Friday venue and brings a nice focus on women's wear to the event, which I've been wanting to encourage recently.
How do you decide and find the suppliers each year?
Each year we include brands that have been involved with Denimbruin all along and are a good fit, like Levi's Vintage Clothing, who have been extremely supportive of Denimbruin. Hollows Leather has also been involved for many years, and has become an integral part of the gathering.
We also like to find new and promising ventures to present to the public. Michael, Charla and I have found many new DB exhibitors either online on denimbro.com or superfuture, at trade shows like Inspiration LA, and surprisingly have made quite a few connections on Instagram that have led to rewarding Denimbruin relationships.
Lately we've been seeing lookbooks for the event. This year it was elaborate with dead bodies, detectives, diners, and a squidhead? Why and where did you get the inspiration from?
My main goal with the look books is to highlight any new products that Denimbruin exhibitors are coming out with, especially items which will be Denimbruin releases or exclusives. My secondary goal is to present them in a way that does not follow the current trend in work wear marketing, which have become very narrow in recent years - beardy guys in slim fits, everything faux-camping under layers of Hi-pass and smoothing filters, in slightly desaturated blue tones.
Workwear has been around forever, but in recent years the heritage trend has really exploded in this new very tight-fitting and non-work-friendly mode. I think that will end in the next few years, and I'd like for Denimbruin to survive and not be colored by those current marketing pressures.
The themes of recent lookbooks, a Twin Peaks Homage last time and a H.P. Lovecraft referential tone this year are a touchstone for the deeply nerdy denimbro core, and have given me a clear alternative stylistically to the above-mentioned trends.
Who are you excited about this year for Denimbruin 2015?
This year I'm looking forward to seeing the offerings from the Matchbook Company (involving veterans of The Blackacre and Rising Sun), meeting the guys from Indigofera (who are by all accounts a good time), seeing Florian Bertmer's artwork hanging at AB Fits, and perusing jewelry from Worn Over Time.
Any plans for Denimbruin 2016?
Sam - Not yet!