An interview with OldBlue Co. about all things denim
Oldblue Co. is an Indonesian denim brand with a single most important inspiration: jeans with a real work purpose, those that once all the cowboys, blue-collar workers, and miners once had. Attaching to this strong principle are a great design and prime quality fabrics.
From the native land of San Francisco California, denim and the denim industry have gone a long way, to faraway places. Even if Levi’s continues to be an important reference, the fact is that there are many more countries where denim is as strong as in America.
We talked briefly with Ahmad Hadiwijaya, one of Oldblue Co.’s founders to know more about their jeans mission. Read the insight and check out some of the brand’s pieces below.
When and why did you establish the brand?
I first started this brand in April 2010. As I always have had a lot of passion towards denim, at first Oldblue was just my idealist project. I just wanted to prove that I could make out something based on my passion.
In a more detailed manner, at the time when we first started this brand, there was a ‘denim boom’ phenomenon here in Indonesia. Still, most of the brands in the market were just following trends, offering a modern concept (skinny pair and such), and I must sadly say, the quality factor is not their first priority.
As I was always fascinated by the American vintage jeans culture, I wanted to offer something different, in terms of concept and quality. Oldblue’s main inspiration is American vintage workwear, especially in the 1890’s to 1950’s eras.
We are a classic, anti-fashion brand. In terms of quality, we try to offer a superior denim quality, like they were made back then.
From the shuttle-loomed-selvedge fabric, high-quality hardware, to the machinery behind our jeans (good old vintage machinery which is more labour intensive). Although our raw materials are mostly imported, from the denim fabric (mostly from Japan and the US), hardware (buttons and rivets from Japan), to the US horsehide as our leather patch.
But all the production process (from cutting into sewing) is proudly done here by the talented hand of Indonesian workers. We also want to prove that our country is handi-capable to make a high-quality denim piece.
Why denim? And has it been hard to deliver your product? (knowing of all the competition from strong markets like the Japanese not to mention the US).
As I said earlier, I always have had a big passion towards denim, especially the vintage one. For me a pair of jeans is a living proof of history, every detail contains its own story and history.
And in terms of dry denim, they will age beautifully with wears and every dry denim will have their own personal attachment to their wearer. Just like you said, it was quite difficult at first to deliver our products in the middle of an incessant attack by brands from abroad, especially all those great Japanese brands.
Because when the premium denim (in term of their price and quality) was having a booming trend here in Indonesia, it was mostly those Japanese brands who get the attention. But instead of taking it as a major drawback, I took it as an advantage to Oldblue, because more and more people acknowledge what the real quality piece of denim pants are, and in the sense that what makes a premium denim is not only based on its price. Thanks to that ‘Japanese boom’.
It was also difficult to shove the Indonesian customer’s mindset, which is really ‘import-oriented’, into appreciating their own local products. but with time and a lot of educational efforts, now we can have quite a good response towards our product. We try to embed in their mind that our quality is not inferior to imported denim, and also with a relatively lower price than those brands.
The most important thing is the sense of pride in wearing Oldblue jeans that they can’t get in any of those abroad brands. in the sense of they wear a product that is made by fellow Indonesian.
Can you now please identify all the founders and current owners/responsible people for Oldblue?
Oldblue co. is still a very small scale workwear brand. In terms of our production scale, and also in term of the number of people behind the brand. Oldblue consists only of two guys, myself, Ahmad Hadiwijaya (sufu id yax), as the founder and owner, and Randy Wilmar, the other owner.