Circle of Friends: Sweden’s Denim Revival
As many denim enthusiasts know, the most favored denim mills call Japan (and North Carolina) their home. There are plenty of other countries that produce denim (e.g. Elhaus of Indonesia), following the current resurgence of premium denim brands and although the fabric’s name has French origins, Europe tends to be less prominent in today’s raw denim world.
Per Fredriksson, the owner and founder of Swedish brand Circle of Friends (COF Studio), is looking to change that. Fredriksson has been a longtime player in the denim industry having gotten his start when he was still in high school working in a Swedish denim shop in 1978.
In the time since, he’s worked for several European denim brands that used Japanese denim exclusively, though at the time much of the denim was not selvedge. He eventually worked with Kaihara Mills in the late 80’s to start development on their recently acquired shuttle looms to produce their first ever selvedge denim.
COF Studio is based in Stockholm while they source and produce all of their goods in Italy, a country mostly known for it’s long history of tailored clothing. Frederiksson started the brand in 2011 and after much development, released its first collection in 2014.
The brand is extremely transparent in its production, going so far as to screenprint a list of each and every manufacturer involved in the process on the inside of each garment. He encourages his customers to look into these factories to become familiar with their histories and really understand the work that goes into a pair of COF Studio jeans.
Frederiksson hope to bring attention to all of the craftsmen within the ‘Circle of Friends’, as he spent many years living in Italy and has seen great textile factories close their doors leaving many of the factory workers behind. The ultimate goal is to restore the livelihood of the thousands of skilled and dedicated craftsmen now out of work.
COF Studio also asserts a high level of environmental awareness exclusively using denim from Candiani Mills, which touts themselves as the ‘greenest denim mill in the blue world.’ Using a dying process known as slasher dying, they are able to reduce water usage up to 70%. But they’ve been a family business for a long time (since 1938), which is another reason for COF Studio using their denim.
With all of the heritage/workwear brands emerging, Frederiksson doesn’t see a need for another one. After all, being a Swedish born man living in Italy, American workwear isn’t really something in his family history. The overall aesthetic and ethos for the new denim brand is one of simplicity and transparency. Per explains,
Our DNA is for sure a classic 5 pocket jean that is produced with traditional processes and historical elements, but I can’t see why the world needs another US heritage/workwear brand. With COF Studio I want the traditional and the contemporary to attract the urban consumer who might already purchase their jeans from heritage stores or premium men’s stores.
They offer jeans both in raw and washed finishes ranging in weight from 11.75oz. to 16oz.–the heaviest denim ever produced in Europe. Though the general look of each jean is clean and simple, bearing no rear pocket arcuate, belt loops that are sewn into the waistband, and felled inseams, each pair of jeans subtly boasts a bit of Italian flare with a single golden rivet located on the watch pocket (a symbol of Candiani’s quality) as well as a golden top button.
COF Studio released their debut collection for Fall/Winter of 2014 and have their Spring/Summer 2015 collection up on their website. Prices range from $210-260 for non-selvedge jeans and $240-$300 for selvedge denim jeans.
Although they don’t have brick and mortar store front yet, you can find them in store at San Francisco’s AB Fits. The brand will soon have a showroom, retail store, and warehouse next to their office in Stockholm.