The pair that opened Tenue de Nîmes, arguably one of Europe’s best denim stores, in Amsterdam in late 2008 is no more–at least not business-wise.
Co-founder and -owner Menno Van Meurs bought out his companion Rene Strolenberg’s share in the business at the end of February. “I decided in October last year that I wanted to continue the journey by myself,” says Van Meurs.
After the buyout, Strolenberg is currently doing consultancy work for different international brands and stores, advising them in terms of image, collection strategy and production and therefore traveling to different manufacturing sites from London to Italy, Morocco o Colombia. He is also working on new project called Blue Eyes Mine.
Meanwhile, Van Meurs continues to run the Tenue de Nîmes business with its two denim stores (and one Red Wing store) in Amsterdam. Doing so, he wants to especially expand on Tenue de Nîmes’ own brand, which released its first pair of made-in-Italy jeans in the summer of 2015 and has grown into a full range of Japanese and Italian denims and basic shirts and tees (it currently encompasses 60 SKUs including three denim fits for women and three for men).
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Benefitting from the production capacity of facilities in Japan, the US and Europe which have suffered from their former clients shifting production to the Far East, Van Meurs says he is able to create amazing products with these people in a “mood of positivity.”
“I decide what I want to make, then find someone who makes it and THEN decide what the price will be. Not the other way ‘round! So I think my quality will outstand most of my competitors’ but my price will be much cheaper. I don’t have an expensive office designed by Rem Koolhaas or any big marketing expenditures and I decided to forward this benefit to the consumer.”
Van Meurs also highlights the durability and therefore sustainability of the Tenue de Nîmes collection and explains that he is currently working on a new online platform to be more efficient in selling it to the rest of the world.
However, he does see limitations to the line, admitting that he will always prefer to leave certain categories to the experts (“I will never make a better canvas sneaker than Converse!” / “Me for instance, I don’t like stretch, but I know that a lot of people do like stretch. So I’d rather buy it from the specialty brands like Acne Studios”) and stick to the multibrand nature of his stores. “I’m not a fan of mono-brand stores because I simply think they are boring! I sell the other brands in my shop because I am a big fan of them.”
I’m not a fan of mono-brand stores because I simply think they are boring! I sell the other brands in my shop because I am a big fan of them.
Asked about his future plans and the option to take the Tenue de Nîmes line to wholesale, Van Meurs responds: “At a certain size point, your margins will get better and I am sure that at one point there will be room enough to sell to other retailers, too. But for me, getting the best product to my consumer is point one. My main concern is teaching the consumer good product again! If I do my job right, we don’t need sales and Black Fridays etc. Retail right now is like cooking – it’s not only about the right ingredients but also about preparing it right! Let’s face it: you can get anything from anywhere these days, but I have many customers who just don’t have the time to do so! They simply want my taste. It’s almost like chemistry!”
Let’s just hope they don’t miss the second chef’s spices too much.