Entering the denim market, as G-Star Raw did in 1989, is always a risky business. Not only do you have to compete with the big heritage denim brands and all their history, you must also compete with most of the other big designer brands who have jeans in their collections. Dutch company G-Star Raw did just that. They launched what was probably the first true 3D jean, the G-Star Elwood. Today, G-Star Raw is a worldwide designer brand with more than 6,500 selling points across the globe. They took on the big names in denim, and they won.
“Just the Product”
G-Star was founded in Amsterdam 1989 by Jos van Tilburg. The company was initially called Gap Star. The name was changed to avoid any confusion with the Gap brand. The philosophy of the brand has always been “Just the Product”. That determined approach has led G-Star Raw to be the first with many new ideas for denim. It was G-Star that was first to fuse street-level style with high levels of craftsmanship to create “luxury denim for the streets”. They also pioneered the use of raw, untreated denim and they evolved a unique architectural denim silhouette. G-Star have never stood still, though. They have brought out many new washes and treatments of denim as well. Their collections now include a wide variety of palettes, from raw unwashed denim to bleached jeans with distinctive textures.
Unique Collaborations and Crossovers
Another distinct feature of G-Star Raw has been the many unique crossovers and collaborations the brand has embarked upon. With each of these, they have applied their own unique style to products. The brand’s collaboration with industrial designer Marc Newson has given rise to many unique pieces. Most notably the 10th anniversary G-Star Raw / Marc Newson Reversable Tour Jacket. G-Star have also collaborated with manufacturers of other types of products. These collaborations have included car manufacturer Land Rover for the RAW Defender, French cognac brand Hennessy for the denim edition of the Hennessy V.S Flask Sleeve, and the Swiss furniture design company, Vitra, for a collection of furniture.
RAW for the Oceans
G-Star Raw has been pioneering sustainable manufacturing processes for some time. This was evident in their use of organic cotton. Cotton that uses less fertilizers and pesticides to grow but is still high-quality cotton that is comfortable to wear. When Pharrell Williams joined forces with G-Star Raw, it took eco-friendly designer wear to the next level. The G-Star Raw Oceans project uses yarn from Williams’ own company, Bionic Yarn. The yarn is made from recycled plastic waste that has been reclaimed from the sea. The project has recovered the equivalent of 2 million plastic containers from around the world. The plastic is first converted into chips. Then, the chips are shredded into fibres. The yarn that is created from this process is then woven into G-Star denim products, hoodies, T-shirts and other items.
G-Star Raw – Moving Forward
The success of G-Star Raw is attributable to ambition and innovation. The brand has always strived to do better and to evolve. Even though G-Star are best-known for their urban clothing, the brand certainly isn’t a brand that will ever stagnate. G-Star continues to innovate, and they often surprise. At the same time, G-Star have stuck firm with their philosophy of putting the product before the money. That was a philosophy that was first brought to the brand by its founder Jos Van Tilburg.
It was the G-Star Elwood that propelled the Dutch designer company into the global league. The unique design, with its curved contours below the knees, was the first of the new style of structural jeans. The style, which has sold more than 10 million pairs, is now available in a wide variety of cuts, washes, and with different types of detailing. The Elwood was the first example of G-Star’s ability to produce jeans of such a high quality that they could be compared by some people to the quality of a pair of Saville Row tailored trousers.
G-Star Raw has created clothing styles that had never been seen before. Much of the early inspiration for their designs came from military style. The brand began very much as an urban streetwear label. Even the name of the brand is said to have been chosen because G-Star closely resembles Gangster. Raw untreated denim is what G-Star is best known for. Denim is still at the very heart of the brand’s range. The brand has expanded a great deal since the early days, though. The G-Star range now includes shoes, underwear, bags, and clothing made of many different types of fabrics. G-Star Raw is a brand to be reckoned with. A brand that won’t sit still. What’s more, G-Star Raw is still a brand that always puts the product first.