Bryce Alton and Doug Bollen from everyone’s favorite denim brand, Nudie, came to Indonesia and we had the brief chance to interview them at Club Culture’s store, a couple of days ago. Both Bryce and Doug have just landed in Jakarta mere hours before they have to scramble through traffic to make it to their own interview session, so we tried to make the best of it and squeezed in a couple of questions regarding the denim world, designs aspects, competitors, and the philosophy behind Nudie Jeans.
Although the principal designer for Nudie Jeans, Maria Erixsson, didn’t make it here to Indonesia, both Bryce and Doug did an excellent job of answering the questions both from a designer’s and marketing’s point of view.
And here’s the interview.
Speaking from the designer’s point of view, why denim? Out of all things, what made Nudie choose denim?
Bryce : We’ve been working with this brand for 12 years since it’s started. But we’re not responsible for any designs, more so marketing, distribution, run the concept stores, sales for South East Asia and Australia. But I’ll answer that question on behalf of the designer Maria Erixsson. She loves jeans, she’s always working with jeans. She’s quite internationally renowned in the denim industry, former head designer of Lee Europe, and she loves blue jeans.
On to the second question. Speaking from a marketing point of view, how do you make Nudie stand out from other competitors?
Doug : There’s a number of different factors in terms of marketing for the brand. We don’t really do a lot of paid marketing from a global level. We let the products do the marketing and so everything you see today is being created by word of mouth and by the customers wearing the jeans. Outside of it, obviously the game is changing and you do need to do things to stand out amongst the crowd, for example just literally this morning we launched our new recycled project. We produced a series a recycled rugs and camper seats and they’re all made from 2700 pairs of worn out jeans.
Bryce : And just to elaborate on that, we are not just a denim brand. Our focus has always been around being sustainable. Since the very first day, since the company started we always have a tie to Amnesty International, so we’ve always been about being a sustainable brand, but no matter how sustainable a brand is, it always comes back to the fit. So there’s a lot of emphasis on the fits. That’s what sells a pair of jeans.
While we’re on the subject of competitors, how do you feel about them?
Doug : I think any competition is healthy competition in the denim industry. Each brand has something unique to offer and it’s just, obviously, setting yourself apart. We have so many different things setting ourselves apart from the competition, whether it’s being a hundred percent organic, or being the first company in the world that offers a hundred percent transparency on our company and our brand, whether it’s being able to have a full order trail of how our product has been produced down to the camper seats and the rugs. There’s so many different layers of our brand, so we’re not, in a way, competing. We’re just setting ourselves apart
Bryce : And the ironic thing about that is, the things that set us apart, we’re encouraging our competitors to follow them. We want our competitors to have a sustainable jean, pay living wages, use organic fabrics, we want them to do the same things that had made our brand successful for the better purpose of the environment.
What do you think the trend is going to be in 2015, and how would it affect Nudie?
Bryce : I think tight fits are still here. There are a lot of talks about tight fits going away, but I think tight fits are here to stay. We have a lot of focus on regular fits. We want to be seen as a denim brand that caters to everyone. But the main trend that we see happening for next season is using classic and timeless pieces and personalizing them to your kind of ways, like taking a pair of jeans and adding patches to them or painting your denim jackets or adding pins or patches to them. So taking classic pieces and adding your own touch to them will mainly be the trend next year.
Where do you guys see Nudie in 5 years? Any new flagship stores or dedicated retailers in Indonesia? Collaborations?
Bryce : First of all, we see ourselves in 5 years and we always want to be a leading contemporary denim brand. We wanna be focusing a lot on technology, and being really fresh and exciting, at the same time we wanna stay classic and true to our denim brand and our followers. You’ll see a lot of exciting things happening especially in our tops collection. We’ve done a few collaborations in the past. We’ve done the leather boots which is a collaboration with a Swedish boot maker. We’re looking for collaborations with brands that share the same directions and interests as our company, so it’s been somewhat rare, but there’s been some great projects.
Doug : It’s not so much about collaborations but more about exclusive products and about offering something exclusive and hasn’t necessarily been done before.
Is there any chance of Nudie collaborating with Indonesian brands or designers?
Doug : It’s yet to be seen. We don’t know what the future’s gonna hold. We can only hope and suggest. We always want to do what’s best for the brand, we never react in a very abrupt way. We think long and hard about it. It took us 10 year to open 4 stores in Australia alone. The brand itself has only been around 11-12 years now and we only have 19 stores. So we are quite conservative in our approach of hitting different parts of the world but who knows.
And as we thanked them for their time, we wrapped up the interview session with a photo session. One of our favorite photo was of Doug and Bryce holding two pairs of pants, where one is brand new and the other one is used and worn for three years and never been washed, showing not only the durability of Nudie’s products but also the sustainable aspect of Nudie’s products.