The artistry of denim is often lost in an industry that produces jeans en masse. This can make the task of finding the perfect pair of jeans akin to reaching a kind of fashion nirvana of sculpted denim that perfectly hugs your body.
Founder and creator of Neuw, Par Lundqvist knows a thing or two about that feeling. It’s the reason he and two other Melbourne lads, Stephen Little and Richard Bell, founded a label that is about integrity and design first, profit second. “We were keen on getting out of the corporate rat race and instead starting a company with a unique proposition,” he says. “We wanted to create denim with richness for detail, detail that you only see when you look closely or turn the garment inside out.”
Lundqvist’s passion for denim awoke in his hometown of Stockholm after years working in various international denim businesses. That passion soon became an endeavour of his own on the other side of the world. Calling Sweden home and Melbourne “a great city to live”, Lundqvist has set about building his brand on the concept of vintage revision – the process of adapting and transforming vintage jeans into wearable modern garments. The result is a modern denim brand with traditional attention to detail, which in a little over a year, has seen the label stocked in several retailers around Australia and the world, as well as celebrating the launch of their own boutique in an old bank in Fitzroy.
Lundqvist attributes the success of the label to two things. The first is an extensive archive of vintage denim (he alone has collected over some 2500 jeans and related vintage pieces from New York, LA, Tokyo and Stockholm). The second is a record collection that ranges from boogie-woogie and jazz to punk, dub, lo-fi and electro. “The record collection sets the tone,” says Lundqvist, “and the archive delivers the individual piece inspiration.” With the creative process set in motion, the first step is conception – deciding upon the look and the silhouette for the season. The design team then delves into their vintage archives and pulls those pieces that best represent that season before re-cutting and repairing vintage pieces to represent a more modern silhouette. It is these re-cut pieces that form the blueprint for the entire production process.
The idea is to create jeans that actually look and feel like your old favourites, perfectly sculpted to the contours of your body and made to look worn. The production process is extensive to say the least and begins with the jeans being sanded down in all the places that they would naturally wear out when worn regularly. Once this is done, a special bleaching process is conducted whereby jeans are sprayed to ensure they fade in all the right spots. Finally, the jeans are placed in a large industrial washing machine before going through a dryer, for that added authentic look. The end result is a modern pair of jeans with traditional attention to detail, fit and workmanship.
It’s an extensive process, but as Lundqvist notes, “A good premium fabric will make your jeans look better every time you wear them. They will develop individual character and that’s what jeans are about.”
Individual character and that ‘worn in feeling’ is something that appeals to all jean consumers and whilst Lundqvist agrees that this is the case, he is quick to add that there are some differences when it comes to jeans and fashion in Australia in comparison to his motherland. “The Swedish aesthetic is simple, sharp and sombre, whereas the Australian taste is more casual, washed, exhibitionistic and sexy. Climate makes a big difference”.
With Neuw fast asserting themselves as an affordable go-to brand for denim-wearers from here to Sweden, Lundqvist and his cohorts need not worry about managing the diversity between the two. It appears that this denim will transcend hemispheres.