Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in A...
Amsterdam the denim capital of Europe23 November 2013, by Alexandra Gowling
A rather unusual fact about the Dutch capital is that it has the highest number of jeans companies per square kilometre in the world.
Now, Amsterdam also has what may be the world’s first school for denim.
Jean School, opened in September 2012, is an mbo-level (vocational) course with a three-year, full-time programme where students are trained to become Denim Developers.
Jeans School course structure
The course aims to teach students the ins and outs of the denim trade, from design to sales, allowing graduates to work in the jeans industry in design, development, purchasing and production.
Co-founders Mariette Hoitink and James Veenhoff saw a gap between industry and education, especially an absence of denim programmes in fashion schools.
"Denim is a growing market, but we have to change it and make this product that we love more sustainably," said Hoitink.
Veenhoff, meanwhile, launched a pilot programme in 2009 that he presented to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
Currently, the course has 35 students in total, 15 in second year and 20 in first. Unusually for a fashion course, three-quarters of the students are male.
The curriculum is developed by the school’s curriculum team in co-ordination with the House of Denim, which describes itself as a platform for craftsmanship and innovation in the denim industry, also founded by Veenhoff. It arranges guest lectures and projects with both Dutch and international denim brands such as G-Star Raw, Scotch & Soda, Tommy Hilfiger and Levi’s Vintage.
Photo by Flickr user muffet
All the students are also able to get internships with denim brands while studying, including in places as far afield as Turkey or China.
Positive industry feedback
The school is already attracting interest from other businesses in the field, including trade shows such as Kingpins show, which will launch in Amsterdam next year.
Andrew Olah, owner of the company behind Kingpins, said that "Amsterdam’s growth in the denim business is undeniable and cooperating with the school was part of the attraction."
"I am getting mills and different industry people to collaborate with the school because I believe in it. The purpose of the school is to graduate individuals who can come in to work and can contribute right away, and this is what the industry needs."