Hope you’re all having a top weekend, so far, and that’s it from me! Over to a familiar face…
Hey Hey, it’s Dave @ruggedworkwear back again for another review on @clobbercalm blog. This time about, what else, DENIM! As usual, my review is not your typical. This time, while I provide a review of denim, I would classify this as a very different and interesting denim project which I hope you find interesting due to its unique nature and details. I like to check out things with a bit of a different twist if you haven’t figured it out yet so sit back, crack open whatever your favorite beverage of choice is, and hopefully become a little more enlightened to the denim possibilities out there. Cheers and Enjoy!
1. How did you come across Du Nord Projects Denim?
Believe it or not just through mutual likes and interests on Instagram. I cannot remember if I liked Jeroen de Wal’s @du_nord_projects first or if they liked me first. But I do remember the first time I looked at the denim trousers they are selling under the name “The Zachary”. For a long while I have asked a lot of mainstream companies if they plan to produce a denim chino pant/trouser and in most cases denim brands are hesitant to do that. These trousers remind me of a denim chino and I loved the details the second I saw the first picture of them on Instagram. It was love at first sight when I looked at that picture of The Zachary denim chino trousers.
2. What caught your eye about them?
The fact The Zachary denim trousers look more like dress pants than they do your typical denim jeans. The design blends denim work wear with high end dress pants features. Plus, the denim that was used is just absolutely gorgeous. Very unique looking and rare, but in a very good, tasteful way in my opinion.
3. What is the spec of the product?
The Zachary denim trousers have many very interesting and unique features:
Fabric: Woven in Italy by Industria Tessile, one of the oldest (1887) weavers in Italy. They do a large volume of luxury fabrics for powerhouse brands like Valentino, Chanel, and even do some interior fabrics for Ferrari. They are a very much local-focused business, situated in Bovolenta and working mainly with complimentary fabrics in their region, to keep Made in Italy on a high level. The fabric itself is from the Dandy Blu collection by Berto, a fabric collection they have woven to cater to the demands of the growing formal denim wear trends of the past years. It is a 98% cotton, 2% elastane blend, 10.6oz. This fabric is no longer being developed by Berto and thus has become a deadstock fabric quite soon after Du Nord Projects purchased their quantity, making The Zachary more rare and unique!
Lining: The lining is also woven in Italy, by Cervo Tessile which is one of the more premium factories for lining and has been in the business since 1815. It is a 100% cotton chambray, sanforized.
Buttons: The buttons come from Butonia Group, a German company that has been specializing in this field for over 150 years. They are made from corozo material, which comes from palm trees.
Labor: These jeans have been constructed in an independent artisan workshop in Spain, by people that have a very high reputation in the premium denim industry. The chino’s have been made partially by hand (pattern making, cutting, some sewing elements) and partially on antique/vintage machinery. It takes 6 hours to complete one pair.
Other Details: Pleats, set in by hand; Waistband construction with curved edges in the front, Suspender buttons inside of waistband for those that like to use suspenders!
4. Why is it a product we should search out and buy?
If you like up-scale denim, if you like unique denim, if you work in or require a business casual or professional casual and want to mix in “dressy” denim, or if you are like me and just love the way these look, grab yourself a set while they last! The material is deadstock so they won’t be around forever. Finally, the fit really works for me. I have an athletic build, the top box is roomy while still having a very slim, yet not too tight thigh and calf fitment. The pleats can help here too as by design this is exactly how pleats help, allowing slimmer appearance of the top box with more usable room in the pants. Most denim jeans do not fit me quite right – either the waist fits and the legs are too tight, or the legs fit and the waist is too big… These fit absolutely perfect for the “tweaner” folks out there like me, but I would guess for slim and heavier alike as well.
5. Where is it available?
The Zachary denim trousers are available in the Du Nord Projects online store, www.storedunord.com/product/zachary/
They may also be offered in other online outlets select brick and mortar venues soon.
6. What’s the price of the product?
Price in Euro: $279 / Price in USD: $330
~ Notes ~
Jeroen’s story, like many start up denim companies and ventures is quite interesting considering all he has had to overcome. When I asked him about the lead up to his company launch he had this to say…
The main reason for me to start Du Nord Projects was, and is, my son Adan Zachary. He was born during the period that me and my ex were getting divorced, which is a painful memory and a very dark chapter in my life.
I wasn’t always the best person I could and should have been in the past, and his birth made me see that things needed to change.
As my son lives with his mother in China, I don’t get to see him much. If I am lucky, once or twice a year. This makes it very hard for me, and even though I learnt to accept this situation it is still very difficult not being able to see your child grow up.
So I wanted to mean more to him than just the “dad on distance”, therefor developing my plans for Du Nord Projects.
I often refer to Du Nord as “The Legacy Project”, because I aim to build something for my son. My intentions are to develop a company/brand that can have livelihood in the market, so that when Adan is grown up, he can see what I did all those years. I want to be able to create a better future for him, with profits that I (hopefully) make with Du Nord to go to his savings. I find it very important to let him know that even when I was on the other side of the world, I always kept fighting and working for him, to build something from the heart with him always in my mind.
Next to that, Du Nord is also an expression of my favourite elements in fashion. I have a background in premium formal menswear, working in various retail positions for the last 17 years. I wanted to combine this passion with my love for all that is indigo. Developing the Zachary denim pants is a blend of both worlds, in a style that I find suitable for the well-dressed modern man. The trousers have Old World details such as pleats and suspender buttons, but come in a modern fitting with an extremely soft and comfortable fabric.
The journey on developing the project has also been rocky, to say the least.
As early as March 2016, I set out to research my options with well-connected denim artisans in Italy. I was lucky enough to have met many denim people over the years, due to frequently visiting trade-shows and writing for Denimhunters.com, allowing me to get in touch with the right people.
I started my journey in Italy, where the great people of Berto Industria Tessile helped me out with finding the right fabric. Especially Arianna Morimando and Maurizio Zampollo, both of Berto, helped me enormously to kickstart Du Nord Projects. There patience and expertise was very heartwarming to experience in this long, difficult journey.
After finding the best fabric, I got in touch with an independent denim artisan in Italy. We had various talks and visits over how to go about, eliminating unnecessary details from the initial design, checking the best fit and walk through all the steps from prototype to finished product.
It were productive talks and made me realise that things were going to go well, so I registered with the Chamber of Commerce and set up my business plan.
As I am not a wealthy man in terms of capital, I had to write up a financial plan and approach credit companies.
While I was in this process, the artisan from Italy informed me that he had to cancel the project due to personal circumstances. This was 6 months after our talks, and I was absolutely gutted.
I was seeing my project slip out of my hands, leaving me behind frustrated.
So while I was seeking financial support, I also had to go find someone else to work with me.
Luckily so, I had a few good contacts in my network and I got in touch with someone in Spain who was very open and willing to hear more about my ideas.
So, I flew to Spain and had 2 days of talks with another artisan and he believed in me and wanted to help me. What we agreed upon was that he would develop the prototype and do the production, guide me in every step and then I would have a product plus the basis that I needed to continue in the future. This artisan normally never does any external projects, and his willingness to help me with Du Nord Projects meant the world to me.
As I arranged a new production partner, I still had to find the funding for everything. I spoke to a microcredit company, which was funded by the government, and basically they were willing to finance me. But at a very high interest rate. Speaking with one of my advisors about this, my advisor sort of blew up and expressed his annoyances with credit companies and how they could charge insane interest rates. He decided he was willing to support me in my journey, as he too believed in my mission and passion. So now, my advisor has become my bank sort of haha.
All of the crucial ingredients had been set in place, and the journey could continue.
Over the course of a few months, I received the prototype in June and it was all good. Not a single detail in the prototype was flawed, the insanely high level of attention to detail showed that I really was working with the right person. Normally you always have to alter a few things after seeing a prototype, but not in this case. We continued to roll out production and after a couple of weeks I received the full batch of 20, limited and exclusive, Du Nord denim pants.
With one of my best friends working hard on the website, we were able to launch officially on September 1st, realising a dream. Feeling extremely proud of this achievement, the journey still is continuing. It is extremely difficult to build a new brand and get it into the market. What I hope is that I can inspire people with my journey and the Zachary trousers, and trigger them to purchase the pants. I want them to become an integral part of their life and style, accompanying them on their own life’s journey and create lasting memories.
Du Nord Projects isn’t about “just a product”, it is about overcoming obstacles in life and to continue one’s journey to the top of the mountain. It just happens to be damn fine denim wrapped around your legs…
~ Wrap-up ~
These denim trousers and Du Nord Projects are catching attention in many other denim forums (The Denim Daily, Longjohn Denim Blog, et cetera) for very good reason. Check out Jeroen’s work on the Du Nord Projects website and give Du Nord Projects an IG follow! That’s about it. I hope you enjoyed this trip off the beaten path of denim products, I know I love these things and I hope you can appreciate the craftstmanship of this product. Until we meet again on the denim map, be safe and good vibes to you!
~ Dave Mathias 13-1-18