Lennaert Nijgh, founder of Benzak Denim Developers or BDD for short, has a quick word with us while at the Modefabriek in Amsterdam. BDD started displaying it’s wares (or wears) since 2011. Despite being a small start up brand, its made quite a bit of headway in the denim scene. Having been featured in top fashion magazines like GQ and the like, this “one-man-brand” has captured our attention. Seeing how he has a project up on crowd funding site, Indiegogo, that expires in 4 days time, we thought we’d get a hold of him despite how busy he is at the Modefabriek. If you’re in Amsterdam, check out Modefabriek from 14-15 July 2013.
SK = Saintkeat
LN = Lennaert Nijgh
SK: First off, tell us more about yourself Lennaert. Did you grow up in Amsterdam? Were you working with denim or fashion before BDD?
LN: I was born and raised in Den Haag (The Hague), the 3rd biggest city in the Netherlands. I moved to Amsterdam when I was 19 to study at AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute). At that time I was already focusing on denim; it was the brand Evisu that caught my eye some years before. Somehow the coloured edge at the sides of the legs really intrigued me (I later learned this was selvage) and I started reading into the subject of denim, especially the history and jeans construction.
SK: With a flood of new brands in the market, what inspired you to start a new denim brand?
LN: My inspiration to start my own brand goes back to highschool — so the current flood of new brands is just a coincidence. On the one hand the competition grows, but it also opens new markets. If you look at Amsterdam at the moment, it is simply amazing how much denim awareness there is. For me it was simply experiencing a great product and wanting to do it myself as well. Most people would say something like ‘I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I made it myself..’, but for me this wasn’t the case. I just want to create products I love. For BDD that is always the case: I only make what I would like to wear myself.
SK: What does Benzak mean?
LN: Benzak is my nickname, from long ago. I wanted to have something personal in my brand name, but Lennaert Nijgh is quite difficult in the Netherlands, let alone internationally. So I went for Benzak instead. But I usually communicate with ‘BDD’.
SK: Apart from Denim, you managed a collaboration with Obbi Good Label, wallets with a denim insert. Is BDD moving towards being a full fledged clothing line? Can we expect more of such brilliant collaborations down the road?
LN: When you create a high quality product, I believe it is best to focus on what you’re good at, in my case jeans. Sure, I’m doing some indigo dyed t-shirts and more accessories as well, but the focus will and always shall be on jeans. Most of the other stuff I do are in fact collabs – the cap for example is made by Ebbets Field Flannels and I am working on some other projects with really talented people, but I can’t tell you specifics at the moment.
SK: Denim manufacturing is expensive business. There have been several denim start ups on Kickstarter and the like, Gustin being the last successful project. What made you take the crowd funding route?
LN: Like you said, it’s expensive: you have to invest a lot. But the main reason I took the crowdfunding route is that I want to be as independent as possible, it’s part of the BDD philosophy as a one-man-business. If you try to get an investor, others will be involved and I don’t want that. BDD is my child and no one should ever have something to say about it. By using crowdfunding I can avoid this because people can get a product in exchange, instead of a share in my company. See it as pre-orders, as I don’t consider myself a ‘Kickstarter’ brand. My goal is to sell mainly to stores rather than the ‘cut the middle man’ principle, as I still believe in the old fashioned way of reaching the consumer, especially in this niche.
SK: Are you offering different fits in this collection? Would you be able to meet the production timeline? (I think most backers are keen to hear this).
LN: Yes, both jeans are 2 new fits. BDD-006 is a slim fit with a slim leg, while BDD-710 is regular fit with a vintage rise (4 fly buttons) and a tapered leg. But I am not planning on releasing many different fits, as I focus on fabrics mainly. Every fabric has special or rare features, I love left hand twill for example. This is my way of standing out. I really like to create a ‘colour palet’ with only shades of blue (pure indigo, red cast, green cast, you name it).
If you’re interested to find out more about Benzak Denim Developers, check out their website here. You are highly encouraged to have a look at BDD’s project on Indiegogo before it expires or you might miss out on some great deals!