A lot of people are making plans to visit Amsterdam over Christmas (or ‘invade’ if you are part of Amsterdam Invasion, a somewhat degrading term in my opinion), and I think that is great. I remember my first time in Amsterdam: arriving at central station in late afternoon, me and two friends drifted around the east side of Amsterdam, in search of coffee shops and cheap food; at night we headed towards the infamous Red Light District – and watched a couple shows along the way.
Little did we know, Amsterdam has so much more to offer us than drugs, alcohol and all that. If you come out of central station and head west instead of making your way to the Red Light District, you are in for a treat: you are about to find one of the two Tenue de Nîmes in Amsterdam – oh yes, it is also one of my favourite two places in the city!
Tenue de Nîmes – obviously French, stands for ‘suit of Nîmes’, and knowing this should teach you two things about jeans: 1) the word ‘denim’ derives from the French words ‘de Nîmes’, which means ‘from Nîmes’, thus 2) Denim was first made there. And if you haven’t guessed yet, Tenue de Nîmes is literally a denim exhibition hall, which attracts denim-lovers around Europe to visit. The shop in Haarlemmerstraat has three floors: in the basement you will find collections of denim jackets, jean shirts, desert boots, knitwear and other accessories. Alongside are all-wooden fixtures and decorations that will drag you into the world of Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas or almost any good movie that the Coen brothers have ever made. If you happen to wander all the way back up to the top floor, the staff have put together a cozy denim museum just for you: just relax yourself on the old sofa, and admire the wall American vintage Levis and Japanese Big John right in your face. If you visit in the afternoon on a weekday, manager Immo de Maar might have the time to come up and talk you through the jean manufacturing with a roll of selvedge denim fabric in hand.
And no, I haven’t forgotten about the ground floor. I would suggest you to have a browse in the women’s floor for a taster first, where the dresses and coats highlight the stark contrast between high-quality womenswear on the high street and the Asos attire Exeter girls tend to wear to TimePiece. Then you can casually stroll into the men’s section, and appreciate a whole wall of denim jeans behind the cashier. There you will find an eye-opening collection of A.P.C., Edwin, Lee, Wrangler, Momotaro and the seldom-seen but nonetheless well-made and well-fitted Acne Midnight Ace raw denim jeans, with the entry price of 129 EUR. If you’re a denimhead, look across and you will see the heaviest denim ever made in history: a 32-oz pair of Naked and Famous jeans, made with Japanese fabric in Canada. You can ask to try them on, but no one would expect you to buy them – you wouldn’t even be able to move in them as they are just so ridiculously stiff.
For most of us, a lot of their products are just not quite affordable, but then apart from selling jeans, Tenue de Nîmes also provides jeans repair service for a reasonable price. It might sound slightly bizarre, but if I damage a pair of jeans that cost me more than £100, I would not just go get a brand new pair; furthermore, given how much people bike in Amsterdam, jeans wear and tear so much quicker. I have had three pairs of jeans fixed there during my stay, so I would strongly recommend you to bring along your favourite pair of torn jeans at home when you next go to Amsterdam.
One last thing – whilst you are there, don’t forget to take one of their business cards. It has a fairly lovely quote by American golfer Walter Hagen:
‘You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.’
Find out more about the Amsterdam retailer here.
words and photos by Justin Chan, Razz Fashion Correspondent