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Tender Co. Denim


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^thanks Drew! Really appreciate it  :)


Here's another version of cotton/wool for the new production. Merino wool twisted with cotton, knitted as a fine gauge rib, cut and sewn with long or short sleeves, and rinsed or dyed with logwood or walnut:



you get the body of cotton, but the softness and fluffiness of the merino. It takes the dye beautifully, and best of all, has substance almost like a bobbled boiled wool, but still light enough to layer or wear as a Tshirt.






These are cut slightly larger than standard cotton Tshirts, either to be worn loose or as a lightweight sweatshirt. I listed them on the Stores as Tshirts, as this is how they're cut and made, but they could just as well be listed as lightweight knits and worn that way. Up online now and delivered to various stockists. 


More soon!

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Newbie here but thinking about a pair of 129 in rinsed or woad. I'm a straight 37" waist, which if I reading the charts right would put me smack in the middle of a size 5 and 6

Is there much expected stretch? Bottom line being size up to a 6 or down to a 5

Thanks in advance

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Newbie here but thinking about a pair of 129 in rinsed or woad. I'm a straight 37" waist, which if I reading the charts right would put me smack in the middle of a size 5 and 6

Is there much expected stretch? Bottom line being size up to a 6 or down to a 5

Thanks in advance


thanks for this! I'd go with a 5- the measured waist will be just below 37, but you'll get 1/2" stretch or so easily, and probably a bit more if you need it. Please email me if you need any more specific measurements, very happy to help 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally sorted out the issue with my computer. Here are some pics of my flower pot jeans and the 129 in madder [iIRC]:


I really like the way the bias cut shows from the wear. Here's close-up:


The 129's have been a lot more 'stubborn' - but the texture and colour is amazing. It's hard to capture in pictures though:



If anyone has some madder dyed ones that are a bit more broken in - I'd love to see the 'evo' on those.

I also have some shirts that are ageing nicely. Particularly a turmeric dye one and a couple of leather items (belt and wallet) - I might get around to taking some pictures of those. [Maybe in another couple of months :tongue: ]

Edited by Nei.Nor
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  • 2 weeks later...

^thanks so much for posting these! I love how the diagonal grain is showing up on the bias-cut trews. Your jeans are starting to look really nice too. They're wattle dyed, actually, and I just listed a fresh pair here, if anyone's interested.


On to a new style, and a new fabric. I just collected Type 110 drawstring pyjama trousers from the factory last week, and they're on their way to various different stockists. These are based on the elasticated waist style from a couple of summers ago, but without the elastic they fit much more easily. This time round there's a bigger variety of fabrics, which are quite a bit heavier and more textural than the original calico (although there is a calico version, too!).


One of the fabrics which these are cut from is a new double-faced wool-cotton. As with the other cloths in this production, the black yarn is wool and the ecru is cotton:



the double-face is constructed so that the wool 'floats' over the cotton, giving you a soft cotton inside, made up of quite long, flat, loops of yarn not dissimilar to a loop-back jersey (sweatshirting).


Once the fabric is washed or dyed, the faces shrink away from each other, creating little channels between the weaving cross-over points, which makes for a nice sturdy handle, and traps air, keeping the garment warm. Here's the walnut dyed version, which shoes the texture quite clearly:



and a rinsed pair:



The dyed versions pick up the colours mainly in the ecru cotton, so you get more of a contrast from the back side, but especially the logwood really deepens and strengthens the tone of the black from the outside:



here's the walnut:



and the rinse again, for comparison:



the trousers themselves have a British-woven ecru cotton herringbone tape drawstring, and a single patch pocket on the right hip. They're cut with no side-seam, based on the same pattern as Nei.Nor's trews.


More soon!

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As a customer who just emailed me said, "For now, it is sweater time". Knitwear in the new production is another experiment in combining natural undyed Shetland sheep's wool with soft, thick, dyed lambs' wool:



The navy lambs' wool and grey Shetland are fed onto the knitting needles at the same rate. The lambs' wool is a lot fatter than the Shetland, so you see more of it- this also makes the sweater softer to wear, as there's more lambs' wool next to the skin.


Here's the same thing, with ecru undyed lambs' wool and natural black sheep Shetland:


this is the most straight-up of the versions- there's no dye in the pullover at all, but you still get the softness and lightness of the lambs' wool.


My personal favourite, though, is the most subtle- dyed black lambs' wool with natural black Shetland:



There are pullovers, sleeveless slipovers, and tubular scarves, knitted as a single long pullover sleeve, with a cuff at each end.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've just delivered the final batch of garments from the current mainline production, lined overcoats. There are a couple of styles, the type 925 flat coat, based on the same pattern as the 425 shirt, and the 966 slad coat. There are various fabric/dye combinations. Here's my own logwood dyed blanket version:





The back panels, with a centre split, run up over the shoulders and into the front yoke. This is adapted from the very first jacket I made for Tender (type 900) and it gives you a very soft comfortable unstructured shoulder. The collar runs straight up from the fronts, with no notch, and has a set of buttons and buttonholes so it can be worn done all the way up. The pockets are double-folded, with a flap at the top for putting things in, and a slanted opening at the side for keeping your hands warm. The body is fully lined with striped wool-cotton, and the sleeves are lined with cotton, to make it easier to slip on and off.


Here are some detail shots of the fabric, in the unlined rinsed version of the same style (nb the unlined version has single pockets, and button cuffs):











this cloth is woven the same as the very heavily milled box cloth, and dyed, but pulled out of the finishing process before it gets shrunk, shaved, and felted. It works really well as a relatively lightweight, but very warm, jacket, or as a heavy overshirt. Lined it becomes a properly substantial coat, with the loosely woven outer trapping air and the more tightly woven lining keeping out the wind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

speaking of jackets, here's a special for Brown & Seedling, in Tokyo. This is a type 900 jacket, from the very first season (here's the original version), but cut from Irish linen canvas, and panel lined with Irish linen calender (based on this style), and logwood dyed. This special ed. is packed up in an unborn jeans bag, which has also been logwood dyed, and each jacket is signed underneath the washing tab:










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I was involved in Viking re-enactment in the late nineties, and had a nice pair of boots made up by Mark Beabey, who used to work out of the Royal Armouries in Leeds making period footwear. They disappeared fifteen or twenty years ago, and I wasn't sure what happened to them, until I unearthed them in my father's attic!


Unfortunately they'd suffered neglect. The leather had dried out, and there was mould on the uppers.  :(




Fortunately I have a tin of Tender boot grease!  :)




And this is what they look like now.




It looks like it's good for the Dark Ages as well as the Age of Steam!  :P


As a bonus, I put a coat of the boot grease on my Iron Heart IHB-04 belt, which is coming along nicely.



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  • 2 weeks later...

^yes please!


Semi-off-topic, I've just received a few pieces of some new GS/TP watch styles. These are a small production of black coated cases with hand-wound gilt movements, and three new dial designs.


Sector dial:



Complete dial:



Cherry Pie dial:



They're all available with black or grey dials, and they're all on gstp.watch now, with lots more detail photos

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^thank you redragon! fit looks great.


A lovely piece has just gone up online at AnOther magazine. Here it is:



The Slow Denim Brand Inspired by Victorian Engineering

For the second installment in our series, Rebecca May Johnson meets the man behind Tender, the brand pairing small-scale manufacture with industrial clothing concepts
— December 8, 2016 —
Text Rebecca May Johnson

While Tender denim is named after the coal truck on a steam train, thanks to founder William Kroll’s enthusiasm for Victorian engineering, it’s an apt epithet for his business too. After driving through torrential rain to Stroud for the interview (the global business has no London base), I arrive expecting a studio or a workshop, but instead pull up to a green front door on a quiet residential street. A bespectacled man wearing wide, unbleached cotton trousers and a dark blanket-cloth shirt opens the door and beams, before ushering me into a long open-plan space with bright orange Formica kitchen, cosy sitting room and dining room. Salt dough cut into festive shapes for making Christmas tree decorations covers the table and Deborah, Kroll’s wife (a dancer by profession) comes downstairs with their young baby to say hi. Kroll has brewed coffee in anticipation of my arrival, in a jug he designed with a potter his granny introduced him to and sold via Tender's eccentric online Trestle Shop. He attentively refills my cup as we chat and I have to remind myself that I’m here to work, not to spend time with old friends.

361078.jpgBefore the interview, Kroll leads me through the grizzly weather in their back garden to a tiny pattern cutting studio-cum-stockroom, which just about fits the cutting table. A selvedge denim curtain protects shelves from dust, and Kroll guides me through his products and brands: from the core Tender denim label launched in 2009, now with 70 stockists worldwide and two seasonal releases a year, to 1970s-style workwear denim brand Whooper (launching in Spring 2017) and a secretive, mid-century fabric project in development. There are boxes of petite yet chunky watches under the name GS/TP (General Service/Trade Pattern) developed from military issue designs; brightly coloured socks, ceramics and garments from Sleeper, Kroll’s simpler collection based on British rail uniforms and produced in Japan. When it comes to design and manufacture, Kroll is an irrepressible polymath. Astonishingly, given the number of stockists and the fact that Tender’s sales are ten times what they were in 2009, Kroll is a one-man band, not counting his manufacturing partners.


After graduating from Central St Martins where he studied menswear, Kroll worked for Japanese denim brand Evisu as a designer. He was often in Japan, and he made the most of his time there, enrolling in night school to learn the language so that a master indigo dyer could teach him his craft. He reached a point where he needed to launch on his own to realise his denim ambitions. “I started to imagine what a pair of jeans would be if they were mine. I like steam trains and I like a Victorian approach to engineering – as with Isambard Kingdom Brunel's idea of invention and a new technology that is still understandable and transparent – so that you feel if given enough time and long bits of steel you could build a suspension bridge or a steam engine or an early bicycle." He continues, “I’m not reactionary, but I just like that simple approach to things. Finally, after saving up a little and painstakingly developing the pair of homemade jeans that would become the Tender prototype in dialogue with the contributors to Superfuture’s ‘suptertalk’ denim forum, Kroll set out on his own, with no investors.



The aesthetics of Tender have been shaped through Kroll’s deconstructive approach to design and manufacture. He is fascinated by how workwear evolved in response to the emerging forms of physical labour in Britain and American in the 19th century: “I'm really interested in the way British rail workers wore versions of tailored suits that then became rough over time, with reinforced panels under pockets; because that’s where they got worn in the most. And then you had American gold diggers who wore suit trousers made out of canvas cloth, because that would last better than other fabrics. There are definite parallel evolutions between these two forms of dress."


But Kroll does not make collections of nostalgic pastiche that appropriates old for old’s sake: “It’s nice to conduct research and dig up old details; but rather than just saying ‘oh, here is a pocket in a certain shape that we haven’t seen in a hundred years – let’s put it somewhere!’, it’s interesting to consider why that particular pocket has been formed in such a way; what people were actually using it for.†As he explains, “today, we tend to walk around with hands in pockets, rather than using them to carry tools, so, my thought processes are focused on how we can apply the same functional attitude to modern day useage. I usually don’t think of things in visual terms; but, â€˜how will it look if I make it like that?’ If you get the sweet spot, it’s interesting on all levels.â€


Tender denim is made in Leicester by a couple who were on the verge of winding down their old-fashioned factory before Kroll asked if they would make clothes for him. A few seasons ago, sales grew to the extent that Tender became the factory’s sole customer. It’s a relationship that works well for both sides: “I thought about manufacturing in Japan, but was very lucky to be introduced to the factory through a friend of a friend. It’s lovely working with them; at the moment we’re halfway through Spring/Summer 2017 production, but I took patterns in on Wednesday and they just dropped everything to make samples up for Autumn/Winter 2017 instead. They're very accommodating.†He continues, “It’s nice to be working with people who aren’t making for other brands, because there are no preconceptions about how to craft garments. Often my clothes are made on the wrong machine: typically shirts should be made on fine gauge machines, but mine are made on machines that should make canvas bags!â€


Kroll posts every order out to stores or individual customers himself, and often enters into personal correspondence with faithful followers who buy from his unconventional, labyrinthine online stores, that defy all rules of contemporary web design: “I write a little note that gets sent out with each piece and it says ‘you are its Tender and how it turns out is up to you’. It’s following the idea that while the product is the end of the manufacturing process, it’s just the beginning of the wearing process; that the point at which you buy something is the middle of its life and it will get much more special over time. The point at which it becomes perfect is when it’s furthest away from the moment I sell it.â€


Paradoxically then, despite the fact that Tender is the epitome of a slow denim brand – with indigo dying, British handwoven fabrics, two people working in the factory and Kroll in charge of everything else – his hands-on model is dynamic and responsive, and has scaled smoothly upwards as his company has grown, with no lack of commercial success. After his first few seasons when owner of British brand Folk, Cathal McAteer, let Kroll use his showroom and introduced him to shops, Tender has accrued dozens more stockists (now, around 70 including the ones he has retained throughout the life of the brand), undoubtedly an incredible achievement. Yet, Kroll has also guarded himself against one-season wonders; refusing requests from several major department stores to feature his denim on their shop floors. 


Kroll often gets asked by students at Central St. Martins, where he teaches for advice on how to run a successful business, and rather like the design and make of his jeans, his formula for commercial longevity is old-fashioned: “I’ve always delivered early or on time and I’ve never cancelled anything; also, I’ve never had investors. I’m a left wing-liberal person and this sounds like a hardnosed, freemarket thing to say, but I think it’s important being able to run a business by being able to sell things that people want to buy, to pay suppliers on time, also expecting and hoping that you will be paid on time too. I am very lucky that I work on my own and I have no one to answer to. I am designing for people who are actually going to wear my clothes.â€


After the interview is over, William and Deborah insist I stay to eat before driving back to London. While he cooks (delicious Singapore-style noodles of which I had three helpings) their daughter sits on my lap and asks that I read her a story. It’s the first time I’ve read Dr. Seuss out loud during an interview, and probably the last, but it seemed to epitomise the way that Kroll conducts his business: tenderly.

Edited by rodeo bill
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If I normally wear a 36" waist, would the Tender 129 Woad jeans in size 6 work or would I need a 5?

Thanks for this. Depends on who's size 36 you normally wear. Size 5 measures ~36.5", size 6 is ~38.5". I have both in stock- please email me if you'd like full measurements. Generally I'd suggest size 5 as equivalent to a 36" waist.


"[...]1970s-style workwear denim brand Whooper (launching in Spring 2017) and a secretive, mid-century fabric project in development. "


Whoa, tell us more!  :D 


:ph34r: whooperjeans.com t-h-e-n.com what's next thread

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Thanks for the info. Sounds like the size 5 is what I should go with.  Can I expect much stretch or shrinkage with this denim? Really looking forward to my first Tender purchase. Over the last few weeks I've re-read this entire thread. Great stuff and totally unique compared to anything else out there.

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thank you! you'll get a little stretch, depending on how tight they are to start with. I'd say about 1/2" stretch, which will shrink back with washing, then stretch again. They've already been washed during the dyeing process, so you won't get any shrinkage with normal washing and hang-drying. 

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Quick sizing question, I have a chlorophyll dyed butterfly shirt in size 1 that fits great, if a hair snug, in most ways EXCEPT, where the sleeves meet the body is definitely too small to be totally comfortable, but is still wearable. How would I do in a size 2 type 429 short sleeve square tail in beekeepers' cloth?

Thanks in advance


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Hi Dan, thanks for this. Feel free to email me for more specific measurements etc, but basically size 2s should be fine for you. The beekeeper's fabric shirts, though, were cut really big to be worn loose. So it definitely won't be too tight compared to your butterfly shirt, but it's a totally different fit. More comparable would be a 429 shirt size 2 in linen, which were cut to a regular fit, and the size up would solve the tightness under the arms. Hope this helps!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking good! I've just given my (hemmed) 130Ps a wash, they're taking a while to fade, and I'm not trying to rush anything, but I'm really enjoying how they're coming along:




here's a closeup:



Here's a few steps ahead, Deborah's 130s which she's had for 3 or 4 years:





frosty new year grass  :)

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Those 130Ps are so cool, William! I'm curious mostly from a design standpoint--what informed the specific placement of the passenger pockets on the thighs of this pair? maybe more specifically, how do you find reaching down to grab stuff from the patch pockets while, say, standing? The 128s, I've found, have a tendency to form whiskers along the tops of the front pockets while sitting, which kind-of creases the pocket into itself and makes it really difficult to access without standing up (or slouching down in a chair). My immediate impression is that the 130Ps pockets fill sort of the opposite purpose, being wonderfully spacious and accessible while sitting but less so while standing up. What's been your experience?

Deborah's 130 are excellent as well! I love the part of the legs where I imagine the cuff begins--beautiful juxtaposition of colours. And perhaps it's the angle of the photo, but the slightly asymmetrical skew of the back pockets is really cool. Thanks for posting these!

Edited by chicote
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