The San Francisco Bay Area saw denim enthusiasts gather yet again for the three-day crock fest, Denim Bruin, California’s little denim rendezvous. This year’s festivities were similar to years previous – the Harris collection of rare and recovered vintage workwear on display for enthusiasts and newbies alike to ogle at many a rare piece up close. Brands like Levi’s Vintage Clothing and Hollows Leather showcasing as well as selling their wares. And, of course, alcohol. Like past Denim Bruin’s, the three-day event blurred the lines between denim festival, miniature trade show, and workwear-themed party.
There were, however, a few standouts. Especially on the third and final day at Oakland boutique Standard & Strange. The store hosted the most brands with Warpath Leather Goods, Old Hands, Ladywhite, and Indigofera among the bunch. But the real treat was seeing the small team of cult Japanese denim makers Ooe Yofukuten come out to show their goods along with the master of vintage sewing machines, Matsuoka.
Denim Bruin founder and organizer Mark Randall says, “Denim Bruin got started as a byproduct of my friendship with Michael and Charla Harris. They have a fantastic, historically important collection of early American workwear that I felt deserved to be seen by a wider audience than the elite collectors who could afford to purchase their rarer finds.” Local artisans in the Bay Area were already making their own reproductions of garments within the collection and were showing their work in the summer of 2012. That’s when Denim Bruin made its debut.
When I spoke with Mark at the event, he said that this year’s event might have very well been the last. Though a denim festival is nowhere near the capacity of a music festival like Outside Lands, which took place the same weekend just on the other side of San Francisco, it’s still a lot to wrangle. I asked him if he’d like for someone else to carry the torch and he said that he wouldn’t want another Denim Bruin. Rather, he would like to see something like Denim Bruin get started, not Denim Bruin 2017.
However, the tide seemed to have turned for Randall. This DB16 was a huge success yet again, and those who were a part of it expressed their desire to see DB continue. And, with some coaxing and heartfelt conversations, it looks like the Bruin will come out from hibernation once again for DB17. If you haven’t gotten the chance to make it out to denim’s home town, you’ll have at least one more opportunity.