Interview with Menno van Meurs, Owner of Tenue de Nîmes
Tenue de Nîmes is founded on the basic principles of quality, function and simplicity that are rooted in the history of jeans. Menno van Meurs, co-founder at that time, opened the first store in November 2008 at the Elandsgracht in the famous ‘Jordaan’ district in Amsterdam. The collection is a perfect balance between raw denim and high-end fashion and in a very short time Tenue de Nîmes became one of the world’s finest denim stores. In 2012 they opened another great denim store in Amsterdam with a collection for both male and female.
In their relatively short existence Tenue de Nîmes had some interesting collaborations with popular denim brands. They launched limited edition jeans amongst others with Momotaro Jeans, Japan Blue, Tellason & Rogue Territory.
The latest, but certainly not the least, collaboration of Tenue de Nîmes are the indigo dyed Chuck Taylor’s with converse and Blue Print Amsterdam.
In February 2015, Tenue de Nîmes presented their first limited collection of jeans which embodied everything that they ever felt passionate about in denim. This first pair of jeans was sold out in the blink of an eye and also their second pair of jeans, which was released in August 2015, was very successful.
Lately, Tenue de Nîmes have launched their third collection of jeans. This time, they chose to focus on both raw and pre-washed jeans, to broaden their market. On this very special occasion, we had a little chat with Menno van Meurs.
As the owner of one of the best denim stores in the world, you’ve seen many jeans coming by… What is so special about your upcoming jeans collection?
Well the reason that it took me so long to make my first Tenue de Nîmes jeans is because we are surrounded by the best jeans brands of the world such as RRL, Momotaro, Japan Blue and APC. So in order to be a note-worthy neighbour of these brands the TdN jeans simply had to become special!
I believe from a quality point of view there are many nice brands out there. I just felt most of the jeans were based on something from the past. Beautiful interpretations of old jeans from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. One of the goals I had with our Tenue de Nîmes jeans was to create a contemporary denim label. Based on quality and inspired by the past, but designed for the future! Our fits are modern fits, developed in our laboratory near Padova in Italy. Tenue de Nîmes should be relevant NOW! So therefore, we call the collection the ‘21st Century jeans’.
Can you describe your collection? And explain the washings?
I am a big fan of washed jeans myself. Before I made my Tenue de Nîmes jeans I always used to wear vintage 505s from the 80s and 90s. Soft and well worn with a natural vintage appearance. My goal with the washed collection was to replicate worn rigid jeans. Now this sounds easier than it is. Simply washing jeans is not rocket science but to find a proper successor for my beloved vintage jeans required some proper science. The first step was to find the right fabric. We collaborated with Kurabo from Japan and CONE denim from the US to find us the perfect shade to start our journey. After that, came a period of proper camping in laundries in order to find the perfect recipe. All of this resulted in our Tenue de Nîmes Tapio 1968 Memphis wash and soon our loose jeans Butch in a beautiful natural vintage wash on a Japanese Kurabo fabric.
The first two collections of Tenue de Nîmes jeans existed of raw denim only. What made you decide to produce pre-washed denim?
In addition to my answer above I believe it is simply important to acknowledge that not everybody always wants to start their denim journey from raw. Of course, you get the best ‘worn-in’ effect when you take the time to wear your jeans for years – but starting with washed jeans was mostly because we have lots of customers who simply prefer washed jeans.
Can you tell us something about the production process? Who designed the jeans? Who designed the washing? and who fabricated the jeans?
The design process takes part in Italy where I found the most amazing laboratory owned by my friend Manuel and his mother. The first design was co-created by one of my dearest denim friends. She set the basis for the TdN Charles fit as we know it today. All the fits after that were developed in my Italian lab with some of the best pattern makers on earth. It’s literally a magical (blue) boiler-room in which I lock myself for 48 hours and come out with new jeans!
The washes are developed in house as well. I have a huge archive with vintage and worn-out jeans that I use as a reference for the natural process of ‘ageing’ denim. We have two laundries now, one in Italy near my lab and one in Kojima, Japan. Two totally different worlds but two magical places!! Japan is all about hand-washing, customizing and heavy worn creations. Italy is great for a more classic salt-and-pepper look. Stuff that was made by brands such as Calvin Klein, Guess and Diesel in the 90s.
About the fabric, where did you source it?
I have been very fortunate to meet with Marco Boznanni a few years ago. He became my fabric mentor. Marco is the agent for the Japanese denim mill Kurabo in Europe and he basically opened doors for us that would normally have remained closed. Our basic blue is made by Kurabo and he often provides us with new gems from Japan. On the other hand, we proudly work with CONE denim, the legendary denim Mill from North Carolina who have been the supplier of all noteworthy Levi’s fabric since the early 1900s! They know their blues!!
The ‘21st Century Jeans’ collection is available in the Tenue de Nîmes stores in Amsterdam and in their web store.