Tenue de Nîmes 10 Years - An Interview by Denim Dudes

Tenue de Nîmes opened the doors to it’s first retail store in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, on a chilly November day in 2008. Did you realise that’s just two months after the collapse of the investment bank, the Lehman Brothers? To most people reading this interview, myself included, the year 2008 immediately conjures up pretty bleak memories of the now famed global financial crisis. And, lets be honest, a decade of uncertainty and challenging times across most aspects of business (especially retail) has followed. Amongst the bankruptcies and liquidations hitting headlines, alongside the multitude of articles and analysis of this dreadful decade for business, have been some heartening success stories too. Tenue de Nîmes is one of those stories. What lessons can we learn from owner, Menno van Meurs? Well, we can find out what lessons HE learned along the way. And believe me, he has ten years worth of amazing insights we can all apply to our jobs, businesses and lives. We got dug in with Menno recently at his Anniversary party and talked retail, sustainability, community and a whole lotta denim.

DD: Congratulations on 10 years of Tenue de Nîmes! What do you attribute your 10 year success to?
TDN: Thanks to our anniversary, people ask me this question often. I guess the first and most important thing that pops in my head is that no matter what people tell you, you must always stay determined. If I look at all the negativity that has captured the world of retail (specifically during the last ten years) it would have been very easy to become very depressed. But instead I always tell people: “If these are the hard times (having so much fun already) I can’t wait for the great days to happen”. So what I take from that is that no matter what happens to the world, or to the business that you are in, when you provide great product and you are good to your customers there will always be a business for you.

DD: And what do you think will most impact your business for the next 10 years?
TDN: During the past 10 years I have learned many, many lessons. I often wonder how amazing it would be to start all over again with these past 10 years of knowledge and experience in my back pocket. The beauty of entrepreneurship is that you learn every day. That journey never ends. Comparing 2008 with 2018 sometimes freaks me out, because literally nothing is the same. I really feel like I have been in this constant start-up mode, although it’s been 10 years already. The internet changed the game so drastically that I had to reinvent myself quite a few times already. The most important lesson I have taken from all the changes is that we must urgently go back to less, but great product (as opposed to big volumes of fast-fashion crap). The clothing business is the second most pollutive industry after raw oil. We create 150 billion garments annually, on a population of only 7 billion people. On top of that 75% of that 150 billion garments ends up being landfill. The remaining quarter is worn 3 times on average before it’s thrown away. That makes me sick! Tenue de Nîmes will continue to curate only the best available jeans out there and to advocate the good, to make sure this planet is still fun 100 years from now. This is also why I will soon launch my new brand Tenue. which is about making honest quality jeans which are loved and used everyday.

DD: How have consumer’s attitudes and education progressed over these years when it comes to denim quality and transparency? 
TDN: Consumer knowledge is far from where it should be in my opinion. At the end of the day it is the consumer that will force brands to re-think their food-chain. So if we want the consumer to make the right choice we have to give them the tools. This is why we make TDN care-instructions for jeans and knitwear to help them make a better purchase. In addition to that, we are working on a ‘how-to-buy-good-jeans-guide’ that helps people understand how you divide jean number 1 from jean number 2. The guide contains very simple guide-lines such as the difference in terms of environmental impact between a rigid jean and a washed jean. People underestimate the importance of simple information. Fashion professionals love to get technical on their garments but consumers don’t have the knowledge to digest that. Therefore we should start small: Where is this made? Where is the fabric from? Does the fabric contain any synthetic fibers? Were there any chemicals involved in the production process? Helping people ask themselves these very simple questions will make a huge change on their purchases!

DD: We recently read an interview with you ‘Buy Less Pay More’ discussing consumers purchasing habits. How do you at Tenue de Nîmes approach big topics such as sustainability and strive to make a positive impact on the industry? 
TDN: In addition to my answer above I believe it is our obligation to educate consumers. In my experience consumers are more and more willing to make the difference. But they need to be able to get the right information to draw their conclusions! Consumers are 100% ready to spend more on a product that shows its origin, explains it was made with honest ingredients and labour and built to last. Look at how the evolution of organic food has forced the big chains to invest in eco-friendly assortments. I just feel the consumer is not educated enough and needs some help to see the difference. Trust me that consumers are not crazy and once all the information is available they will turn away massively from stuff that doesn’t smell right. This is why we endorse the idea of saving up some money and then invest it in something that is worth it. Buy less, pay more. On top of that we offer free life-time repairs on all our Tenue. jeans. By doing this we hope people enjoy our products for a life-time. I can only hope that one day my Tenue. jeans will be perceived as premium vintage too.

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