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Denim Country: A Recap of Nashville Denim Days 2018

Amsterdam Denim Days hit the denim scene hard with its debut back in 2014. Put together by Kingpins as a weekend-long festival centered around the all things denim, Amsterdam was dipped blue with many European vendors showing off (and selling) their wares alongside interactive displays and panel discussions.

Its success led to subsequent events in the following years and the event eventually expanded across the pond to New York City where American denimheads eagerly awaited the blue bash. Continuing their westward expansion, the Denim Days franchise recently touched down in Nashville, home of country music and hot chicken, and we went to see Music City’s denim takeover.

Outdoor Market

Before entering the venue, which was held at the beautiful Marathon Music Works in Nashville’s North Gulch neighborhood, people were greeted by an outdoor market with food trucks and about fifteen vendors ranging from vintage dealers to organic soap makers to brands young and well-seasoned. It was a pleasant surprise for the casual passerby to find what was essentially a curated flea market. If you couldn’t bring yourself to pay the $15 to enter the venue, it was a great way to get a taste of the event without having to dig into your wallet.

Inside Marathon Music Works

But if you did fork over the 15 bucks to get inside, you were greeted by some helpful event staff as well as a little Denim Days shop. As you guessed, everything for sale was denim-themed if not indigo-tinged. And it wasn’t merely denim tote bags and indigo-dipped t-shirts.

The shop’s array was quite varied, including denim beanbags, books, clothes (surprisingly, even though they were not in attendance, pieces from the cult Japanese brand Kapital were actually there), DIY indigo dye kits, and even indigo headphones were all on sale. Get yourself a pair of Bluetooth indigo headphones and listen to ‘Mood Indigo’ if you’re a real head.

nashville-denim-days-nathan-zucker-02Past the gift shop, the tall ceilings of Marathon Music Works were strung with vintage jeans like banners welcoming denimheads home. The swathe of vendors taking up booths was a nice mix of vintage dealers, local brands, and foreign brands (with a smattering of big brands who keep the whole thing going, of course).

For Tennesseans who have admired brands like Left Field, Tenue De Nîmes, Kings of Indigo, Jean Shop, and Indigo People from afar, having them gathered together in one space was a good chance to see the product and interact with the brands themselves. Aside from the tone-deaf booth of Imogene + Willie (get your photo next to a huge sign that says ‘Kill Your Jeans’ overlayed with gun targets as you stand amongst jeans that have presumably been killed, their blue bodies strewn about the floor in a pile of more gun targets), the rest of the event was plenty of good, clean fun for everyone.

Interactive Booths

There were no full-on indigo-dye vats to get your hands blue, but there were plenty of interactive booths. Hand-painting leather goods, darning repairs, and chainstitch embroidery were all present. And, though you couldn’t dip your hands into a cauldron of bubbling blue stuff, you could jump into a huge steel pit filled with cotton.

Having musical artists perform live on stage was a real treat and a nice distinction that set this iteration apart from other Denim Days events, but it wasn’t without its hiccups. Each live performance was conveniently scheduled at the same time as each of the Denim Talks. Though the talks were positioned at the opposite end of the venue, they were merely sectioned off by a barrier and not in a separate conference room, which made it difficult to listen in on any of the discussions. Needless to say, a powerpoint lecture was no match for a 5-piece blues rock band.

Minus a few logistical issues, the event was a success and a ton of fun to experience. Denim Days continues to do a great job of bringing together denim-focused brands from all over the denim spectrum whether you’re into raw denim, repurposed jeans, avant-garde, or straight up vintage. And if you’re itching to interact with the designers, makers, and fellow enthusiasts, it remains at the top of denim gatherings out there. Plus, it gives you an excuse to experience Nashville, which is a very, very cool city.

Missed out on Nashville Denim Days? Thinking about making it to a Denim Days event next year? For the casual fan of fashion, the denim enthusiasts, or simply the curious, there’s something for everyone. So, now that you know that Nashville’s on the table, get ready for next year’s indigo affair (and leave some room for hot chicken).

To learn more about Denim Days and how you can get in on the fun, check out their website.

Photos: Nathan Zucker for Denim Days

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