The premium denim brand Denham aims to become bigger internationally and speed up its growth in Asia. Founder Jason Denham explained to SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL how the brand is expanding in Japan and China.

Jason Denham, founder, Denham
Photo: Denham
Jason Denham, founder, Denham

When did you start operating in Japan?
We opened our first store in Daikanyama, Tokyo in May 2010. This is one of my favorite places in Japan. I instantly fell in love with the white glass box architecture located next to Okura which is an indigo institution. This is the home of our brand in Japan. I will never forget walking through Daikanyama with my friend Stephane Muller and seeing the empty building and thinking:“That's going to be my first store in Japan.” Six months later I was cutting the tape with Rin Tanaka (author of My Freedam books and founder of the Inspiration show in LA). Our Japanese adventure had started. East meets West….


What are your aims to grow in this market in the next years?
We aim to open 27 stores in Japan by the end of this year. In November we will open “Parco Shibuya” in Tokyo, which will be our 15th store in this city. We plan to open 20 more stores in the next two to three years.


Will you also sell through multibrand stores?
Our main focus is expanding through retail and e-commerce, however we also do wholesale in selected distribution.


What goals do you aim to reach there? 
We have invested and nurtured our Japanese business very carefully and after 10 years in the market we still see huge potential. Our goal is to maintain our premium position and to increase our footprint in all the key territories. If we continue to get this right the revenues will continue to be our number one market and growth potential.


Are you planning to further expand in Asia?
China is a very important market for us. We have opened 25 stores in the last two years and we see great potential in this territory. We have opened in the key cities Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongquing, Hangzhou and Nanjing. I am learning about China every day and the energy is incredible. There is a fantastic appetite for denim, innovation and sustainability which are the key pillars for our brand.


Are you selling a special collection in Japan or is it exactly the same one in all other markets?
We create specials for the Japanese market, mostly in women’s models due to specific fits and body types. We also create key pieces for our men’s line. Local production “Made in Japan” is very important for the Japanese consumer. We have a very strong offer of Made in Japan denim specifically for this market.

Denham store in Ginza Six in Tokyo, Japan
Photo: Denham
Denham store in Ginza Six in Tokyo, Japan


Are you selling more to men or women in this country?
Our success in men’s apparel is stronger but the women’s market is also growing, as now 70% of our sales are men and 30% are women. 


What do Japanese consumers like best about your brand?
The Japanese customers appreciate that Denham jeans are “East meets West,” meaning we understand the value of Made in Japan denim materials and aesthetic. The Japanese also love our connection with Candiani and the quality and innovation of Italian denim. The balance is very important.


What are Japanese customers looking for when buying a pair of premium jeans? 
Quality, design signature, innovation, presentation, service and sustainability.


Are they interested in buying products that are sustainable? 
Absolutely. And that starts with quality.


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