So Donwan from PRPS sent me a mail yesterday to tell me about a great initiative he's just undertaken. He's teamed up with the fashion design program at VCU in Richmond to create a denim manufacturing and washing curriculum, called a 'Jeaneology' class. He writes:
"I've realized that as a past fashion design student myself that I knew nothing about the denim industry upon graduation from university. Most design schools focus only on pattern making, draping, and design theory and nothing on the Americas 15 billion dollar denim industry that we've single handedly created"
Very true! I was the same. I graduated in 2002 from Kingston University in London and knew how to tailor and pattern cut, drape on the stand, even knit fully fashioned sweaters but I didn't even really know how a jean went together, despite it being my natural strength and design handwriting.
What Donwan is doing is really commendable. He's sharing his 20 year denim industry insight with a bunch of kids that are going to 100% benefit. And by doing so he is investing in the future of the denim industry. Its the first course of its kind in the US and hopefully it will continue to grow into something even bigger. This has been proved over in Amsterdam at the amazingly inspiring House of Denim Jean School and their newly opened Denim City started up by industry veterans James Veenhoff and Mariette Hoitink. They have been hustling everyone from the industry to get involved and its turned into an amazingly large-scaled project; the first set of graduates entering the industry this year.
And it doesn't just benefit the students, actively working with these kids is an amazing source of inspiration to many designers, giving fresh perspective on the norms and preconceptions of denim design. I'm going to be doing a bit of tutoring later this year in the UK and am really psyched about it.
Anyway, back to Donwan and the course: the program consisted of three parts: the first back in May where Donwan lectured for two weeks on the history of denim as well as fabric makeup and construction: all your groundwork, basically.
Next up the lucky students spent a whole week in the PRPS design studio, as well as conducting much-valued market research: who's out there, who does what best, the competition in the market, etc etc.
Finally the group visited a European laundry where they were briefed on all machinery, processes and applications and laundered a raw jean with access to all the industrial machines on offer.
Donwan said he found it an amazing experience and I'm 100% the students did too. We need more of this outlook and organisation if we are to properly nurture the next generation of denim dudes!