Ounce Denim Supply is the brainchild of Team Hapalan—a team formed by second-year MFA Products of Design candidates Natsuki Hayashi, Adem Önalan and Souvik Paul. The three students worked together over the course of the semester as part the Brand, Product and Experience class, taught by the founding members of Aruliden, to develop the product and brand offering for the burgeoning denimhead movement.
“Denimheads are obsessed with premium denim. Willing to spend $300 to over $500 per pair, denimheads love the quality and individuality associated with selvedge and raw denim. We wanted to design for this subculture.”
Adem defines the subculture for those unfamiliar: “Denimheads are obsessed with premium denim. Willing to spend $300 to over $500 per pair, denimheads love the quality and individuality associated with selvedge and raw denim.”
Selvedge denim is a visual marker of denim jeans that have been produced using old style looms—which create only enough denim for one pair to be produced at a time. This contrasts with existing industrial methods of jeans manufacture, in which massive sheets of denim are cut down to make several pairs of jeans. Denimheads maintain that the old style manufacture results in a stronger, higher quality article of clothing.
Further, raw denim hasn’t been washed or distressed by the manufacturer in any way before reaching the end consumer. This allows denimheads to "wear in" their jeans themselves, and to develop an idiosyncratic fade pattern reflective of the wearer’s lifestyle. It was this almost ritualistic process around fading—wherein denimheads would go months and years before washing their jeans—that attracted Team Hapalan to design for denimheads.
It was this almost ritualistic process around fading—wherein denimheads would go months and years before washing their jeans—that attracted to team to design for denimheads.
“At first, it was hard for us to relate to our target audience," comments Souvik. "But we quickly realized that underneath the sometimes strange behavior of denimheads—whether that was soaking their jeans in the bathtub in lieu of washing it in the washing machine to avoid losing too much indigo dye in their jeans, or participating in denim world tours where jeans would be sent around the world to be worn by different denimheads for a month at a time—there was an underlying theme of commitment to sustainability and authenticity...values that we could very much relate to.”
Building their brand pyramid to address and embody “the authentic self,” and seeking to help denimheads celebrate their denim as the centerpiece of their wardrobe and their ideology, Team Hapalan developed the oz.kit and the oz.stand using materials that would age well over time—brass, leather and wood.
The oz.kit is a pill-shaped wooden box with a brass lid, containing two glass bottles with nested measuring cups made out of brass, four marble stones, and storage compartments for the user’s odds and ends. The bottles contain salt and baking soda, and vinegar - staples that denimheads use to clean their jeans in order to avoid using damaging detergents - and are refillable. The stones are used to weigh down jeans when they’re soaking in the bathtub; their white color is meant to pick up the indigo dye over years and years of use, echoing and reversing the fading process of the jeans.
The oz.stand is a furniture piece that highlights the centrality of denim to the denimhead lifestyle. Jeans are hung on an pill-shaped loop that allows them to be prominently displayed—even when not being worn—allowing air to circulate through them and keeping them smelling fresh for longer. The tubing of the stand is made from brass and stainless steel. The structure is stabilized by a dense brass base with a wooden lid that doubles as a platform for shoes.
The lid flips over to reveal a stainless steel bottom, perfect for catching water drips from washed denim as it hang drys on the stand. The oz.kit comes with the purchase of the oz.stand, and is stored on the pill-shaped loop in the stand, providing an ideal spot for users to toss their keys and wallet into after coming home.
The packaging for the oz.kit is a reusable canvas and leather tote bag—shaped to match the iconic pill shape of the oz.kit and oz.stand—with a heavyweight paper band wrapped around. The paper slip articulates the brand’s mission elements: “The careful selection of authentic materials that age with time. No details spared in the construction process. In the spirit of storytelling, one pair of jeans at a time.” Within the kit itself is a note welcoming users to the Ounce Denim Supply community, along with the signatures of the brand’s founding members.
The oz.stand is packaged in a cardboard box, with clear assembly instructions printed on the inside, and all of the easy-to-assemble parts fitting neatly inside the base of the structure. Purchasers of the oz.stand are greeted with a letter welcoming them into the Ounce community and explaining how they can engage with other members of Ounce.
The designers envisage both products selling in stores such as 3x1 or BlueinGreen—premium denim outlets. In order to distinguish the oz.stand from the in-store fixtures, Team Hapalan devised an installation that calls attention to the product with sophistication and understatement.
The branding for both products and their packaging was kept intentionally minimal. Believing that simplicity and elegance would convey more about the brand than having the word “Ounce.” embossed everywhere, Team Hapalan’s brand name appears only twice on their products—once on the leather tab on the oz.kit’s lid, and once on the tote bag that in which the oz.kit is sold.
Understanding their target audience better allowed Team Hapalan to make branding choices that were well-suited to denimhead culture. “We chose to use Sugo Regular as our typeface; it’s bold weight embodied the fierce individualism of denimheads, and gave us the opportunity to distress the lettering, echoing denimhead practices," argues Natsuki. "We chose to include the period in the brand name because it suggested that no compromises were made in the establishment of our brand. There was a fun opportunity for us to turn that period into a rivet—further incorporating the iconography and imagery of denim into the brand itself.”
Another brand touchpoint is the serial number. Each oz.stand comes with its own serial number, engraved on the structure itself and on the inner lid of the accompanying oz.kit. (Ounce community members who buy an oz.kit separately before buying an oz.stand will have the option to send their kit in in order to have it engraved.) Aside from personal and aesthetic value, the serial number connects members of the Ounce community together. Serial numbers will be distributed in a geographically diverse manner, and Ounce. Denim Supply will sponsor denim world tours among its community members with serial numbers belonging to the same family. Ounce. will maintain a heavy presence on popular online denimhead fora such as superfuture, reddit, and Heddels, and will sponsor denim championships to engage with the denimhead community.