” There’s a growing part of the world’s population that’s tired of buying poor quality products that are made under doubtful social conditions.”
Iu Franquesa, the founding father of Companion Denim. Established in 2013 and now celebrating its 2nd anniversary. An artisanal brand born from the desire to express Iu’s vision on denim, exposing the way of life that lies beneath this timeless fabric. After spending many years working in the cheaper fast-fashion denim industry, building his own brand became a natural transition for Iu.
Growing up a Blue Boy
“Raw denim has been a familiar thing to me ever since I was a kid, when I used to hang around piles of raw denim which were waiting to be treated at my father’s washing house. Ironically, I ended up doing something complete opposite to what I learned in my years in the denim industry and my family’s company background.”
Would you say that there’s a difference between Iu Franquesa, the denim artisan and Iu Franquesa, the person?
“Not really, no. I don’t think there’s too much of a difference, since I take denim as a personal expression and I try to do things the way I like them most. Companion denim is my main hobby and I basically do the kind of jeans I like.”
Iu realized why he wanted to do what he does now, by discovering his own passion during the start of his career. After spending many years designing jeans in front of a computer and in supplier rooms all over the world, Iu’s need to work with the denim material itself and with his own hands took over:
“I wanted to be able to experiment, have more control on the subtle detailing that goes into a pair of jeans.”
What does the world of companion denim look like now?
“Let me tell you, these first two years have been totally crazy! Every day is a big challenge with lots of new things to learn and improve on, I’ve got so many new projects up ahead. It’s absolutely thrilling! The customer’s feedback has been pretty good so far, which is wonderful. When you see people getting their fifth, sixth or even their seventh pair of jeans, you realize you’re not doing so bad after all.
Why the market for custom-made denim is growing
“I think there’s a growing part of the world’s population that is tired of buying poor quality products that will have a short life, and which are made under doubtful social conditions. Raw and selvedge denim brings totally opposite values: Authenticity, quality (but not in all cases unfortunately) and love, all combined in a product that will age and look better as time moves on.”
There’s a definite, perhaps even explosive, rise in self-proclaimed denim artisans. Some good, few great and many just misusing the term artisan. With this rare group of pure denim artisans, demand from consumers for a core range is high. However, it is not something most artisans can provide. Why? As all these jeans are made with artisanal methods, on slow(er) machines and with time-consuming processes and endless details, the manufacturing becomes quite expensive. This results in not being able to offer enough margin to third-party retailers. However, every artisan knows the importance of having a physical presence thus Companion denim has started collaborating with selected denim retailers and will continue to do so in the future.
The world of Companion Denim in 2020
“That’s a very long mark, I can’t even see further than 4-6 months for now! Well, product-diversification and wholesale are some of our most immediate goals for now. But for me, I’d be more than happy if I can keep making products the way I like and have it profitable enough to keep a small and sustainable growth.”