Is heavyweight denim the future for eco-friendly fashion? It’s hard to predict, but some insiders firmly believe that heavyweight jeans can be a valid and more sustainable alternative.





Lennaert Nijgh, co-owner of the authentic jeans brand Benzak Denim Developers, is constantly involved in developing new jeans and use materials developed with denim manufacturers.

Lennaert Nijgh
Photo: Benzak
Lennaert Nijgh
Among one of Nijgh’s most recent projects, there is a selection of jeans made with the 15.5 oz RCI selvedge denim by Candiani Denim. 




“The name RCI stands for Robecchetto con Induno which is the place of conception of the Candiani Denim Mill,” explained Nijgh. “We think that the combination of weight, construction and indigo dye, makes this a true classic red-cast denim fabric which will evolve into a bright blue color over time. For this, we have developed a selection of 15.5 oz RCI selvedge jeans available in a slim and tapered version.”

Made in Europe Benzak jeans made with RCI denim
Photo: Benzak
Made in Europe Benzak jeans made with RCI denim
For Nijgh, whose core line currently consists of six Candiani selvedge denim fabrics, this fabric is not particularly heavy as for the company he co-owns with his brother Eduard, who founded Benzak, a 15.5 oz denim is quite average. “We have an 18 oz fabrics in our current line as well, and have used fabrics up to 22.5 oz in the past,” continued Nijgh.




The company offers mostly men’s jeans, almost always untreated denim, and has also started offering women’s jeans in weights that vary between 13 oz and 15 oz, considering that a 13 oz denim is practically a lightweight fabric, along with other styles, like for instance, gabardine and workwear inspired trousers.

Benzak jeans made with RCI denim
Photo: Benzak
Benzak jeans made with RCI denim
“Our customers are used to wear 15 oz denim. It’s what our customers are used to,” continues the jeanswear expert, underlining that they offer unwashed and untreated jeans that gradually adapt to one’s body and mold upon it. “It requires time, dedication and patience, but it is worth, and it’s what we recommend it to get best from these jeans.”




Benzak also offer other jeans made with in Japan with Japanese selvedge fabrics from Kojima, an iconic city for the production of denim, another authentic a high-quality denim, often made with 100% organic cotton.




“We work with a small selection of fabric mills and like to operate in a very transparent way. We use both organic and regular cotton and have our jeans either made in Europe or in Japan,” he commented.

Made in Japan Benzak Jeans
Photo: Benzak
Made in Japan Benzak Jeans
“We like to offer raw jeans that age around your body and, as it takes time to age them, they can be worn for long,” he explained implying that raw heavyweight jeans last longer and will be - eventually - thrown away only after many years.




Benzak’s offers two separate selection of jeans - made in Europe jeans, that cost between €180 and €250, and made in Japan jeans that cost between €300 and €400.




“Made in Japan jeans have more details and their construction is much more elaborated, plus hand labor is much more expensive than in Europe. Therefore, their price is higher.”




Caring for leftover stock fabrics
As part of the brand’s care for the environment, there is also a careful approach toward leftover stock fabrics.

RCI denim, Candiani Denim, and Japanese blanket fabric
Photo: Benzak
RCI denim, Candiani Denim, and Japanese blanket fabric
“During the development of our f/w 2022 collection, we realised that it would end up with some extra meters of our 15.5 oz RCI selvedge fabric. Knowing that we also had a leftover roll of Japanese blanket fabric at our disposal, we decided to put the two together and repurpose these fabrics that otherwise might have ended up discarded,” explained Nijgh.





When combining the selvedge denim with the blanket fabric, the outcome seemed quite obvious and they created a blanket lined denim jacket. It is a direct nod to the Lee Storm Rider, which introduced this type of lining all the way back in the early ’50s when they started out using saddle blanket fabrics as lining for the jackets, giving the wearer more comfort and warmth.

Benzak lined jeans jacket made with RCI denim
Photo: Benzak
Benzak lined jeans jacket made with RCI denim
Along with the jackets, which they produced in a truly exclusive limited edition series, a few more meters of blanket fabric had remained. They decided to use them too and produce some pillowcases which are now on offer and can be bought.
Benzak jacket with blanket lining (detail)
Photo: Benzak
Benzak jacket with blanket lining (detail)
“The lined jeans' jacket actually can’t be restocked, since we’ve literally used every last bit of the fabrics needed to produce it. The pillows are now available for pre-order, and will be available until Friday, January 6th, 2023. We’re happy to end this year on a sustainable note, and to see as little beautiful fabric as possible go to waste,” Nijgh commented.





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