Tender – Ones to Watch
I’m always grateful to find out new brands – new to me at least. Even more so when they’re British brands. This particular brand was mentioned to me by my good friend Gabriel Hughes, based in New York. Having similar interests and styles, we tend to share brands, music etc. Knowing my interest in classic workwear inspired clothing he felt compelled to mention them to me. I did my own research and keen to pass-it-on and share here. The brand in question is Tender, that has it’s roots in antique workwear from the Great British Steam Age. Grateful for the suggestion, I duly did some research after his enthusiastic recommendation.
Very quickly I understood Gabriel’s excitement and garnered my own. Whenever finding a brand that has a beautiful story about how they make their clothes, it gives a lovely picture of what they do and allows for customers to build a close relationship. Despite saying themselves that they’re a denim brand, Tender produce a wide variety of objects in their studio. Each design’s development actually informs and influences other ideas, such as hand-thrown red clay pots, cotton acetate sunglasses, a coin purse cut from wattle-tanned leather and mouth-blown glass tumblers, to name just a few. I am thoroughly impressed with the discovery attitude of Tender, wanting to learn from those who have the skills to execute the specialised work. Each product is the result of the maker’s actions and will therefore be slightly different to each other. ‘Perfection of imperfection’ is the undercurrent tone here, which is of course achieved through the focus of making one piece at a time.
As mentioned, there is a wide variety of products that Tender produce, but it’s the denim that I want to focus on here. I had a good chat with William Kroll, the founder, and will post our chat in the Coffee & Conversation section soon, so keep an eye out for that. As I’ve been getting into denim a lot more in recent years it’s always a pleasure to discover brands that hark back to the basics and keep a lot of things in house. A lot of the dying process is also done on site using natural dyes, completing and enriching the properties of the original weaving. Knowing that it takes up to a day to dye each piece, you have to respect Tender’s willingness to adhere to these natural colour processes, which in turn reward with a deep and rich variety of colour that cannot be achieved any other way. The dyed clothes are cut and sown in England from unsanforised 16oz Japanese selvage denim, English woven twills, English interlock jersey, broad cloths, canvases, satins and calicoes. Following research into historical garment colours, Tender’s dyeing process includes individually hand dying in the natural dyes and washing/shrinking the fabrics and finished items.
A prime example of the quality and attention to detail can be seen when going through the collection online and you’re able to read a legend of the garment, including the fabric used and it’s benefits, as well as all the details of buttons, stitching, lining and so forth. Seeing also garments that have been produced in previous season but have brought back and updated is always refreshing. Why completely get rid of something that works well, but rather, allow others to get their hands on it. The transparency of production and making each garment is extremely refreshing and thoroughly appreciated. You can see how a number of Japanese, British and American stockists have taken on Tender. Get involved and get yourself a Tender product – something that will last you an age, while knowing that it was made in an artisanal fashion.
My personal favourites are the Type 915 Guard’s Jacket, Type 980 Darted Shoulder Jacket and Type 420 Long Sleeve Tail Shirt in linen – all above. The 915 Guard’s Jacket has an insightful explanation of it’s quality, explaining that the brushed beaverteen fabric is used woven for use in foundry overalls, meaning that the brushed pile causes molten metal to run off the clothing before it burns through to the skin. These sorts of consideration for garments that can be worn in workshops and are made to perform and last. The practicality of the garments are also noticeable by the large pockets featured on many models, but it’s the knowledge of time and affection that has gone into each piece that resonates with me. Get yourself and timeless Tender product that will no doubt join you on your own journey of adventure and discovery.