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Tender Co. Denim


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Rough-out shoes via UpThere.

3 years, once or twice a week wear.

No care provided apart from regular brushing.

Stitches near the eyelets are slowly coming off, and the crepe sole is wearing thin now...might be time for a re-sole soon.


Looking forward to more Tender shoes~



Edited by mikecch
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Maybe not as nice as the newer offerings, but beautiful to me!

Just ordered a new belt and wallet, can't wait to have a belt that actually fits.


Thank you Discop! Your belt and wallet will be going out tomorrow, and your watch looks lovely- if it wasn't that the watchmaker retired I'd happily continue producing these. I spent a lot of time of the dial and details and like them a lot. I'm delighted you're enjoying it.


William, I'm not sure how many times I've searched deep into Instagram hoping to find a solid source for the brand. (hint, hint)

;) I hear this quite a lot. I've never done any social media, for Tender or personally, apart from posting here. If I was going to be on Instagram, or anything else, I'd want to do it properly, and just don't think I have the time. It's honestly still just me doing the whole brand- design, managing the production and all the logistics, all the wholesale, as well as packing and shipping orders from the websites (and stocking the sites and keeping them up to date). Along with teaching it's a pretty full schedule! Seriously, whenever I've glanced around IG at the things that get posted, it's really exciting to see how people wear things, and what interesting people Tender owners are. So perhaps at some point I'll get to it, but in the meantime it's nice that most of the social media stuff out there is from retailers and owners, all of whom bring their own attitude to the products and hopefully make the brand richer, more nuanced, and less focussed than if I was pumping stuff out, or working with a p.r. agency etc.


Rough-out shoes via UpThere.

3 years, once or twice a week wear.

No care provided apart from regular brushing.

mikecch, these look totally fantastic! thank you very much for posting, you're doing them proud  :)

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Four washes in, the 'veins' in this fabric are starting to come out:

(replaced original picture [overexposed] with this short post)




I don't think I've actually said anything about these 128s on here since I got them from the Tender Stores a bit over a month ago. They're excellent—in design, construction, and in maintaining the original vision of creating a pair of ultimately 'simple' jeans.




So far, the patch front pockets (which are barely visible here, but are about the same size as the large, square back pockets recognizable on other Tender jeans) have been one of the most enjoyable details of this design for me. The enormous pocket openings and loose top block made them immediately usable, and objects sit far better amongst each other than they ever have for me in a pocket bag. Although it's a bit out of focus, down the thighs, you can see how grainy the denim is becoming as it begins to shed its first shades of indigo.




In perhaps an act of artistic solidarity, i've given these a raw 31-inch hem early last week, which has been through two washes since. They were actually hemmed to 33 inches earlier than that, maybe the second week I had them, by Blue Owl; at that time the jeans were cut with a raw hem also, and then Alex ran a chainstitch around the frayed edge maybe 1cm down, so that the legs wouldn't fray apart entirely. (In my iteration, I just hand-stitched the outseams together where I'd cut the hem—for now I don't mind the fraying.)




The denim has begun to develop a lovely wrinkliness over the past couple of weeks, and is still quite hairy. I've attempted to get these photos true to color, and this one might have gotten closest to it. You can also see the extent to which the right leg has twisted, possibly in the next photo too...




...and the truly straight cut still falls excellently!


I'm still excited about these jeans, which is sort of amazing. Thanks for looking, everyone!

Edited by chicote
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I've had trouble posting pics on here. I can't seem to 'paste' into the dialog box - but I'll try again over the weekend.


Mine don't show particularly high contrasts [yet] so I'd love to see if anyone else has a well worn pair.

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anyone has this hat? Looking for a picture of someone wearing it..


Thanks Jay, sorry for the delay. I sent you some lookbook photos by email, but here are a couple of quick shots of my own one of this exact hat:





Discop, thank you! Delighted they arrived safe and you have a belt that fits right now.


Chicote, your jeans look superb! thank you so much for posting. I really like the hemming idea- I've been meaning to cut a pair off like this for myself. In fact, I hemmed my current pair of jeans (a new style for Autumn/Winter 2016, more soon) at the ankle, which I'm really enjoying.


Nei.Nor and Discop, seconded, I'd love to see both your jeans. NN, there's a locked thread on posting images, I think. Once you have your image hosted somewhere (I use an old flickr account) you can copy the image, then click on the photo icon (looks like a polaroid of a tree) in the reply box here, and paste into the popup. I hope this helps!


more soon

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just received a lovely mail from a great friend of the brand, and poster here (I think? Hisa?!) of his tan oak bark leather wire buckle belt. It's looking pretty astounding. With permission, here's his email and photos:


I was inspired by what you wrote on the card you sent with the belt, saying that how it turns out is up to me. Well here it is.

I shortened the keeper as it was too loose. Removed the stitching and punched holes so it could be fitted with brass Chicago screws. Now it’s much easier to clean and grease my belt. It also make it possible to quickly change buckles. I burnished the edges the best I could without professional tools. I used spit, sugar and a wooden burnisher. I also “finished†the flesh side with the same tools and method. Daily wearing did the rest.
This belt I wore almost everyday at work and off work. It has been through a lot. Welding, cuts, scratches, the merciless sun, sweat, industrial grease. For cleaning, I rub the belt with a bar of organic soap and a very little bit of water. After I have rubbed all the dirty stuff out, I wipe it down with a moist cloth and let dry. Then I grease it up. I used Huberd’s shoe grease before I brought a jar of mutton tallow from you.
You might wonder why I use such a wide range of belt holes. That is because I have high rise trousers as well as middle to low rise trousers. Had I only worn this belt only on high rise trousers, it would probably never develop a curve. 
I enjoyed wearing this belt a lot, thank you very much for such a beautiful and functional piece of art.
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While we're on belts, I just put up a little special, hand painted with daisies on a navy background:







These (and this wallet:


) are hand painted by the Master canal boat and barge painter who drew the TENDER word for Tshirts last summer. The paint ags really nicely. Here's an update of my own wallet, from the previous, white painted, batch:


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And, while I'm posting things, for something completely different, the fantastic NEIGHBOUR store in Vancouver just posted a really nice feature put together from two very enjoyable rambling FaceTime conversations. The article's here, and copied in below:


This Spring, we have been quite excited to add Tender to our brand list. Operated by William Kroll, Tender has its roots firmly planted in English workwear, drawing reference from the Great Steam Age. In addition to running the label, William is also a sessional instructor at the esteemed Central Saint Martins, where he studied tailoring. We are delighted to present to you a conversation between Neighbour and Tender's founder.





I’d already been working for a Japanese brand and I had studied fashion at CSM and tailoring, and then had gone to work in the denim industry and getting really into Japanese jeans. I guess I had these different strands coming through - a fashion menswear approach of researching things and getting into different moods and feelings of things, then working that into the design process. Also incorporating a tailoring influence, which holds a respect for tradition handwork and craft.
And then there was also the Japanese reproduction culture and appropriation of Americana and workwear. I felt a lot of the brands that I liked were Japanese or American and were doing great things, but felt quite specific to those cultures and I was keen to try something for myself and do a new project.
At this time (10 years ago) I felt as though, through the internet and menswear media there was access to a lot of great product so I needed to do something that was a bit different. So I started putting things together and started from a workwear point of view, more specifically I saw an opportunity to do something with British workwear and how it linked together the ideas of researching something not directly within the scope of fashion and then bringing into a clothing point of view. Looking at practical clothing and also the evolved side of things and handwork that comes from tailoring.
I’ve always been quite into craft and making things, before I got into fashion I was in furniture and product design. Initially, when I went to college I had intended on furniture design. Really it was the idea of making something myself.
I guess the name came from working clothes in the UK and I was getting into the steam engines from the Victorian Era. So I started looking at the Industrial Revolution and engines and the clothes people wore during this time. This is where the name came from, the piece of the train which would carry the coal and water.
Whereas American workwear jeans had evolved quite far; people were travelling over from Europe for the Gold Rush, and in the UK the clothes you’d wear to work on a steam engine were quite close to formal tailoring. You’d have your high-waisted black wool pants and your black wool frock coat and it is interesting to see these clothes and their parallel evolution alongside what might be conceived as ‘workwear’ in a contemporary context. Those differences are what I wanted to focus on.
With the name, it suggests gentleness and in a way a sort of rawness in the idea of being tender. There’s a sense of vulnerability and this is quite honest as a design sensibility and quite open. I don’t approach it from a hard shell of cool (common in fashion) and that’s not really me. I prefer to have a slightly more personal relationship with these things and there’s something about that in the name. Also, the idea of making something with love and tenderness. The person who owns the product becomes a very important part of that thing and they become the tender to it, in the same sense as a garden or flock of sheep. If you take on a shirt from my collection, it will arrive to you in its new state, which is to say the end of the production process. I see this point as the middle, but then it goes onto the new owner who will live with it and it will become something much more personal and interesting. In a way, if there is an end of the process it happens when the garment truly becomes the person’s own and loses the connotations of branding and ideas of a seasonal designer object. Over time this sheds away and I really like this idea.
There’s also the sense of friendliness. The kind of British making I partake in is not always absolutely by the book, but it has an understandability and openness. I hope that if someone picks up one of my garments, even if they can’t make it themselves, they might still be able to understand how it was made.
Blind luck is what I say. I’m extremely lucky and thankful for the people I work with. I met them by a recommendation from someone at college and I got on a train and visited them. It’s a couple who have a bespoke tailoring background and ultimately opened up a factory for casual wear in London, but eventually they became a bit more elderly and the market slowed down so they scaled down their factory and now the two of them work on all the machines in the factory they still keep. I appreciate what they do and I understand how they work, even if I can’t operate all the machines fast and neatly I understand what the limitations are as well as the opportunities. It’s given us a great working relationship where I can propose things and we’ll try it out together. Hopefully you get a better result when you’re working towards the same end, especially when you’re attempting something unusual.
There are new fabrics, new challenges, and new ways of doing things, so it’s always interesting. This allows me to be personally involved in the production process and I find it to be a privilege and a luxury, especially in the fashion world.
I think so. I think a lot of it is to do with communication and the internet and retailers who exhibit products in a detailed and specific way. Being able to buy products through the internet from any country means that retailers have become important. It’s not just what is immediately available in a local area, but rather how products are presented, how retailers tell stories, and how they edit things. That’s a great pleasure when working with retailers.
I see my products in different ways through different shops. Even a simple product shot has to do with the typography used and the other garments with which it’s paired. It gives it a different feeling and that level of presentation and knowledge has led to new clients, who like to have deeper knowledge about this. In a way, the democratization of this means that my stuff, which is tiny, is as visible to everyone around the world as a mega brand; and that’s interesting. This allows people who like things made by hand, with thought and care, to find this kind of product.
I think it might have to do with a mature market who enjoys this kind of product. It seems as though this client may be quite interested in what’s happening outside of Japan. I’m a small enough brand where I don’t have to do projections and marketing strategies and therefore I can take everything on its own merit.
If I could make a small generalization, it seems that there are quite a few store in Japan who are very small from a business point of view and order small quantities. I find these shops tend to not think of the product so seasonally and therefore they can build up collections cross-seasonally and pair old and new products in various ways. I really like that approach.
Well, from an honest, technical, practical point of view if you’re being efficient this is a disadvantage. From a personality and soul perspective, it has every advantage. When you weave with pretty much any natural fiber, the fiber in its raw state will be unstable, so if you get cotton wet it will shrink, it will change state very easily. When you weave, you’re generally using untreated yarn, or at least I usually use untreated yarn. You then get your loom-state fabric and it is normal at this point to wash it or steam it to singe it or burn off the hairy surface to press it, to do all kinds of things to put it through rollers and stretch it out so it will become stable.
At that point you can then make your garment and whatever happens to it, it will stay the same. If you make your garment with loom-state fabric you have to be careful because it will change in size when you wash it, but rather than having fabric which is shrunk and becomes quite flat, cut into panels, and sewn as a collection of panels sewn together. Instead, you’ll get these big, relatively loose, open fabrics, cut into panels, then sewn into a garment and you’ll have a collection of panels which are formed into the shape of a pair of pants. You’ll then wash that, or in my case wash it or dye it with natural dyes, when you do this all of the fabric shrinks and it causes the garment to shrink together. When this happens, in my mind, it becomes more than the sum of its parts, it becomes a three dimensional thing where you have one piece of fabric sewn with another into a seam, like pieces of paper two flat planes, but when you wash it the seam becomes part of both pieces of fabric and you then have one thing and you might get a crease in a certain place or a round part across the seam, you might get a fold that joins it. Any imperfections in dye or anything while you wash it becomes a part of the garment. It also means that anything like skewing, where the yarn tries to untwist itself, that affects the direction of the fabric and it affects the twist of legs in pants or sleeves in shirts, will happen. Pretty much all the garments I work with are cut and sewn in loom-state and then become something more interesting when the next step happens to them.
Also – cotton thread shrinks in the same way fabric will, so the results after washing is puckered seams, which gives it personality and changes the shape of the overall seam. If you have an armhole with cotton thread, it will produce a slightly gathered seam, which gives a subtle shape to the other panels and it also means that it’ll wear differently. The threads take on the dye and the same richness as the rest of the garment, but as they fade the dye will appear similar to how the fabric holds it. Cotton doesn’t hold up as well as polyester, but that means it will wear out in the same interesting ways and at the same rate as the other parts of the garments, in the sense of fraying or fluffing up. In a practical way, polyester is very strong stuff and is great, but when you look at old garments and they have loose threads that are fluffed up and frayed and they have something lovely to that. I think it’s really nice if you can bring a sense of that same spirit, without necessarily aiming for an exact reproduction of older garments.
Well, on the one hand, what I do wouldn’t be considered traditional catwalk fashion, and in some ways it’s easy and might be the right answer to say, “No, I’m against fashion.†But, it is within this world and I’m personally into fashion and I’ve fallen in and out of love with various aspects of it. That said, I do teach at CSM and also studied there. I do have a general interest in this stuff and try to keep up even with things that don’t directly affect what I do and I think it is important.
I think it’s important not to block out other ways of looking at things. It can be easy in the jeans world and reproduction world to have a very narrow vision.
One of the down sides to fashion is that it can be quite restless and not spend time doing something well and investigating it. But, on the other hand, there’s something interesting about doing research and getting excited about it and at a certain point you turn around and look at something else and then see how you can bring that into your world. From a fashion design perspective, and even from a Central Saint Martin’s attitude, you research thing from outside and then bring them into fashion. That’s something I grew up with and how I studied. I adopted that approach and I enjoy it. It can allow for a rich experience.
Even if what I do may not feel very fashion, it does come from a fashion design approach. If it veers off into another field, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t come from that perspective.
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another belt post... the Autumn/Winter 2016 production is coming through, lots more soon. But to start with, here's the new lost wax-cast brass 'Flipper' buckle:



The idea (although very much not the design!) came from the buckle of a reversible nylon strap on a Timex watch which we gave to our niece for her 9th birthday. If you have a  straight tongue, and a symmetrical buckle frame, the strap can be flipped over to allow you to choose the face colour of the belt.


To make full use of this, the new belt is available on a natural tan oak bark leather belt which has been pressed and stained black on the flesh side, so that it can be worn as a tan or black belt (also made with a regular tan, or black grain belt- all versions here).


Here are some photos of my own belt, worn over 6 months and greased periodically:









a nice smile:



and with an update on my 127s:


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Moving on slowly but surely with some more new season things- denim molleton. Two years ago I used a cotton molleton for jackets, overcoats and whales. Molleton is a very heavily raised and napped industrial fabric used for the pads of heat presses, and is made by running a loose, heavy, canvas cloth repeatedly through a series of shrinking, needling, brushing, and pressing, processes, until it achieves an almost felted texture. For this new production I thought it would be interesting to try putting Tender denim through the same process. It worked out really nicely  :)




It really has to be touched to get the full effect- visually the denim molleton is very similar to the standard denim (with a slightly more intense colour, although it's subtle), but the texture is totally new, almost like brushed-back jersey sweat-pants. The cloth has been double finished on both sides, so it's as soft inside as out:



Another nice side consequence of the finishing process, which I wasn't expecting, is that the denim molleton twists even more than the standard denim:



I assume this is because the needling of the fabric opens out the weaving structure, giving the yarn more space to untwist, and so skew the fabric. Anyway it's a really cool side-effect. Here's a pair of rinsed denim molleton 129s:


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some more jeans news.....: type 130P, with Passenger pockets!





These are the pair that I've been wearing throughout the summer, hemmed pretty short. They're an extension of the idea of the Driver's pockets on type 132D, which are an adaptation of the thigh pocket found on some overalls. Passenger pockets come from the idea of large patch pockets on the skirts of car coats, worn on the laps of travellers on long journeys. It may look like an aesthetic decision, but the idea is to approach these jeans details as product design, in the way of early practical clothing. Jeans evolved for workers who stood up most of the time, where the seat of the pants was fair game. Lee jeans, intended to be worn in a saddle, spread the back pockets apart so that the wearer's wallet sits on the side of the seat. These are an extension of that: for people (like me) who spend a lot of their time sitting down, the front thighs are actually a much more practical space to store things. I've found them particularly useful on airplanes, where you don't want to be sitting on a lump for a long time, but it's really useful to have a place to keep your phone and wallet close to hand.


Here are some fit pics (again, this pair has been shortened a lot):







130P are on the Stores now in rinse or woad denim and walnut dyed denim molleton, and will be around in various versions soon. Here's a closeup of the walnut denim molleton :) :


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^thanks redragon! I'm really glad you like them


The new production, for Autumn-Winter 2016, is coming through and I've just sent the first boxes out to stockists, so it's time for some photos! These were taken by Rory Cole, who I've worked with for the last few seasons, on an Olympus Pen half-frame camera:












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^^laces look brilliant mikecch! nice choice.


As promised, I'd like to explain a few details from some of the new garments. First off, here's the Type 425 double cuff flat shirt:


the idea for this shirt starts with the cuff. Shirt cuffs as we know them are an evolution of "doctors' cuffs", separate cuffs seamed onto the end of the sleeve which had an opening, allowing them to be turned away from the wrists during surgery, to avoid getting blood on a nice crisp shirt.... (as a side note, I've been told that Savile Row, which became a centre of tailoring, was originally known as a high-class medical area, the equivalent of Harley St, and tailors' shops sprang up around it to cater for doctors). Dress shirt cuff openings are normally cur with plackets, away from the seam, but Tender's shirt cuffs have always opened directly into the seam, which feels like a simpler, more utilitarian construction method. I was thinking about double (French) cuffs, which didn't seam right, but I like the sound of a double cuff, so I thought why not try a double opening, onto a single cuff?:





Because I have the rule that cuffs must open into seams, this means you need a second seam. Type 420 and 422 shirts sleeve seams are under the arm, 430's are on top of the arm, and 450's are at the front of the arm. For this Type 425 the sleeves are seamed at the top and the bottom. This allows you to cut the patterns completely flat, with no folds anywhere (this is the 'flat' part of the shirt name.




The shirt is otherwise fairly similar to type 422, with square tails and side slits, and a flat back. It has two large pockets near the hem, lower down than on the 420 shirt, and set away from the seam:



Buttons are bottle-green melamine, which I think work really well against the black elements.


The general ideas across the whole of the new production are about mixing wool and cotton, and working with different forms of black. Across various different fabrics I've used ecru undyed cotton yarn, and black dyed woollen yarn. In the version of the shirt above, this is a new cloth woven on an ecru cotton warp, with striped wool and cotton weft. Here's a closeup:



The wool shrinks slightly more than the cotton, when the garment is rinsed, which creates a softly rippled effect, rather like a seersucker (traditionally produced by adjusting the warp tension, but often achieved by adding a synthetic yarn and chemically treating the fabric during finishing). Because the wool in this fabric is in the weft, the stripe runs horizontally across the shirt.


The same shirt is also made up, more as a jacket, in a black dyed blanket fabric, loosely woven and unfinished:



and in blueline selvage ecru cotton calico, which is cut a bit slimmer, as a shirt:



these fabrics, and a couple more, crop up across various different shapes and ideas. more soon!

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More black-wool-ecru-cotton experiments: new socks are knitted from parallel cones of yarn, fed into the knitting machine at the same time, giving a random fleck of black and white:



it's a really nice combination- you get the warmth and softness of wool, with the body and non-scratchiness of cotton. I've done them in regular calf-length, and full knee-length (I wore the initial samples all last winter, and am looking forward to wearing them again as it gets colder- you can pull them up, but I like them pushed down and rumpled up over the ankle). Here's how they look, left-right, Unborn, logwood dyed, and walnut dyed:



on the Trestle Shop now, and showing up in stockists shortly

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