Neuw Denim: Raw Jeans from Auckland to Brussels
From humble beginnings on Nieuwlandstraat in Brussels, Neuw Denim has grown to become a player in some of the largest denim markets in the world. The brand, a collaboration between designer Par Lundqvist, Steve Little and Richard Bell (the latter two being based down under in Oceania), strives to keep hold of a timeless aesthetic, something that’s evident in their regularly updated collections.
Nowadays, Bell is responsible for the strategic marketing activities of Neuw and was instrumental in the brand’s recent push into the New Zealand market. We were able to touch base with Bell in order to better introduce the new kid on the international block.
From it’s beginnings in Brussels, Neuw has expanded to become a three way cross-hemisphere partnership. It all started when Lundqvist began tailoring and altering pieces belonging to his personal denim archive, creating an idea of “vintage revision”, seemingly a mash up between aspects of past and present denim era’s. What drives the team behind Neuw is a drive to influence denim the way their favourite bands influenced music. As Bell describes:
“Running a denim brand is like being in a band. The best bands (we think) are the ones that have a burning passion for roots music and the rebellion, aesthetic and lifestyle connected to it. They take the audience and the music to new places by experimenting and playing with the original, raw sounds and rhythm. We aim to create our jeans like our favorite bands create their music.”
Furthering from their passion for music, the brand takes inspiration from traditional craftsmanship and combines this with innovative denim fabrics designed exclusively by Neuw. However while their raw collection is primarily constructed out of Japanese selvedge denim, they aim to break down the usual price barrier.
Despite producing a full menswear and womenswear line up, Neuw Denim structures their collection releases much like the rest of the denim industry. The design aesthetic of the brand’s products have a distinctly timeless character, sitting somewhat in the middle of the heritage and rock denim era’s.
Those who have been a fan of Neuw Denim since the beginning will remember that it took them a while to work selvedge denim into their main line. “You need to earn a place on the premium brand shelf to offer selvedge jeans,” Bell educates, “it took us two years in working with the better denim mills and to build the brand up to this great place where we now have selvedge in four Neuw fits.” These styles, the Iggy, Joey, Lou, and Johnny, encompass skinny, slim and tapered fits all woven from Japanese selvedge denims.
While the simple Black Iggy Skinny model (which is also available in a raw, selvedge denim) is their global best seller, Neuw have found a niche that allows them to stay true to their timeless mantra; releasing just one evolutionary style each year. In 2011 Neuw released a collection titled Black Colour, a selection of denim jeans woven with a black weft in order to retain their hue. Styles introduced by Neuw in 2012 and 2013 took inspiration from the Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice movement and a piece of Lundqvist’s denim archive respectively. In 2014 Neuw is looking to introduce a “Black Rope Denim”.
Although these annual innovations have so far overlooked the raw denim scene, it will be interesting to see what Neuw can do with the fabric when they inevitably work it into these special collections.
An aspect that made Neuw stand out to us here at Heddels was the brand’s recent expansion into such unconventional denim markets as Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand.
Neuw Denim has been present in the NZ market for a few years now and recently opened their first stand alone boutique in one of Auckland’s most in demand retail locations. The resounding focus of their venture into NZ has been to place the brand in the right areas and to educate each new customer as to the story behind the brand as well as the history of the product. This focus has seemingly helped Neuw to overcome a lack of consumer education, something that troubles premium denim start ups in even the most conventional of markets. Bell says of the brands venture into NZ “we are already seeing the positive results.”