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The Denim Industry’s Favorite Brands and Retailers

Almost everyone has a favorite store to shop for jeans, but only long-time industry members can point to the Japanese denim brand with the most interesting editorial imagery or the Thai retailer that puts on the best yearly event.

Denim enthusiasts discussed their favorites at Kingpins New York’s “Denim Blogger Quick-Fire” panel featuring show founder Andrew Olah; Thomas Stege Bojer, Denimhunters editor-in-chief; Nick Coe, Heddels founding editor; Tricia Carey, Lenzing director of global business development; and Amy Leverton, author of Denim Dudes.

Japanese brand Kapital, known for its unusual silhouettes and unique design details, was the most discussed brand among panelists. Leverton said that as a trend forecaster, she is drawn to more fashion-driven denim, and Kapital fits the bill.

She said, “Kapital is very, very specifically quite directional and quite niche. You either love it or it’s not your thing, and they would probably say, ‘You know what, we’re not for you. Don’t worry about it.’ And I think that’s really cool of them.”

Coe added that Kapital’s highly developed lookbooks and the brand’s general commitment to what they do helps to separate it from other brands. Coe said he is generally drawn to the Japanese brands. “I think there’s a real dedication to the craftsmanship and a lot of thoughtfulness,” he commented. He also listed Stevenson Overall Co. and Studio D’Artisan as other top brand picks.

Leverton also pointed to Australian brand Rollas as another company that stands out for its uniqueness. She said, “[Rollas] are really into that eighties heritage. I think in this day and age to be a denim brand and to stand apart from other brands, you have to have a very strong DNA.”

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In terms of more traditional brands that present strong, quality product, Carey pointed to Rag & Bone. She highlighted the variety offered by the brand, the washes and the presentation.

Olah also asked panelists about retailers they found compelling. Coe called out brands that have succeeded in growing an audience. Pronto in Thailand fosters community with nine locations throughout the country and the retailer’s annual Denim Carnival that draws up to 30,000 people who come to meet the brands. He also noted that Self Edge has done a great job of moving into new cities and curating a selection based on that market.

Leverton said that she has become interested in a couple retailers in Los Angeles offering a new type of assortment. Menswear and home goods shop Virgil Normal and womenswear store Shop Super Street are both mixing urban street and skate style with high-end fashion for a new genre of store.

Finally, there are some retailers that simply have the right selection and a passion for their product. Bojer said of Swedish retailer Meadow, “It’s not that they have the best selection of raw denim; it’s not that they have the best selection of streetwear; it’s just a great mix.”

Bojer told a story about when the store owners wanted to sign on a new Japanese brand. In order to bring in the necessary money, one of the owners left to work another job driving a forklift on the side while the other took on double-time work at the store. He said that this is the type of dedication that makes the shop so appealing.