William Kroll of Tender Q&A

18th May 15

Tender has become synonymous since its beginnings with creating garments using natural dyes, traditional methods an overall eye for detail. As not so secret admirers  William Kroll and Tender, we asked the man himself to take time from his busy schedule as owner and designer of Tender took to answer some of our questions about the now legendary brand. To our surprise, he agreed.

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Read the full interview below:

NSS: So, we know you’re based in England and have what some might describe as an obsessive attention to detail! But where did it all begin for William Kroll? Can you tell us a little about your background?

WK: I studied Menswear design at Central St Martins, and in the middle of that I took a year out as an apprentice to a Savile Row tailor and cutter. In my last year at college I worked weekends in the Evisu shop, also on Savile Row, and was offered a design job as soon as I graduated. With Evisu I had the chance to spend a lot of time in Japan and really get to know jeans. After four years doing that I decided I wanted to start doing my own thing, and Tender started up, in the summer of 2009.

NSS: Obviously you’ve worked hard to give Tender the incredible background and reputation it has today. But we’d like to know what inspired you to create Tender?

WK: Most of the clothing brands which I liked had an American or Japanese aesthetic and story behind them, and as a British designer I wanted to do something that reflected my own home and interests. I really love traditional bespoke tailoring, and having seen a bit of that first hand I wanted to see if I could bring some of those details and attitudes to a type of garment which in many ways is the total opposite - jeans - without compromising their own rich history and integrity.

NSS: We hear you’ve spent a lot of time in Okayama with denim dye masters, how did this influence your own denim production?

WK: I’ve been incredibly lucky to spend time with, and learn from, fantastic makers and teachers in Japan, the US, and the UK, but the time I spent in Okayama right when I was starting Tender were really special. Seeing people committed to particular niches and really respecting the ritual and history around different types of making was very exciting for me, quite apart from lots of specific technical knowledge that was shared with me. I think I’m more willing to allow happy accidents and chance to take a part in my design and manufacturing process than some Japanese brands, but an appreciation and understanding of the minutiae of production has definitely been heavily influenced by people I met in Japan.

NSS: Tenders roots are in British workwear. What makes this so appealing to you in particular?

WK: There’s such a lot of excellent Japanese and American workwear-influenced clothing around that it would be very difficult for me to bring anything new to that world. British workwear of the Victorian era (in some ways this country’s own Wild West!) was heavily based in formal tailored clothes, just made in a more robust and newly mechanised way. I think this meeting of two worlds is really interesting the architecture and engineering of the railways built around this time (many still in use) sums it up perfectly for me. The Tender is the coal truck on a steam engine, so everything just sort of fell into place when I started thinking along those lines.

NSS: We especially love that you use natural dyes and traditional methods. How important is this to the makeup and life of Tender garments?

WK: Dyeing with natural colours is really central to what Tender’s all about. On the one hand there’s a fantastic history of natural dyeing, going back thousands of years across every culture, on another front the physical processes that go into dyeing this way are really interesting and give enough uncertainty that the results feel very special. Then on a third hand, natural dyes tend not to be as colour-fast or strong as modern chemical dyes, meaning that they age and become more personal as the garments are worn, helping each individual piece diverge away from the state in which it leaves me to become completely unique to its owner.

NSS: We often see photos of the production of your garments, are you involved in a hands on level in the production?

WK: I follow the whole production very carefully, and I spend time with the makers all the way through the process. I think it’s extremely important that I fully understand absolutely everything that goes into making each product, but equally I think it’s right that the garments themselves are made by people who are very skilled at the processes in their production. I make all the patterns and the original prototype samples myself, and then do the finishing (fastening buttons, numbering the care labels, packing), but the production is done by experts in the various fields of manufacturing.
NSS: What’s next for Tender? Can you let us in on any new methods you’ve been exploring?

WK: Tender's a one-person company, which I do from home (I have a small studio at the bottom of the garden), so I have a lot of flexibility to try out new things, but on the other hand it takes a lot of my time keeping on top of design, production, and deliveries, as well as running our own online shops. I’m very excited about the carrot dyed garments, some of which you have in stock now, and also about a new jeans fit, type 127, which will be appearing in the coming weeks. It’s taken a lot of trials to get right, but I think it’ll be really nice!


New State Store Launch

7th Mar 15

For months now, we've been working around the clock to get the new website up and running plus sourcing brands and garments from around the world. It's finally here!

It's exciting to be able to bring our project to life finally and offer out some of the worlds highest quality clothing alongside some of the design greats of the past century. We source the highest quality clothes straight from artisans and designers around the world. Whether they be in their new state or vintage state, each item is a good as the next

At New State Store, we believe in lasting garments with that timeless design quality. Garments that will look as good in 10 years as they do right now. Which is why the vintage clothing we offer isn't just your average vintage clothing:

Clothes pick up characteristics over time. New clothes are like a blank canvas, over time they'll begin to fade or develop changes that turn them into your favourite piece. A lot of designers today aim to offer copies of garments that have been in the past. We aim to actually offer the garments that inspire them alongside the modern day re-productions.

The vintage garments we sell are testament to the new garments. Every garment we sell has taken a journey from it's new state into it's vintage state and shows that journey in the way it has developed. Like a good pair of denim, every garment shows characteristics.

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