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Women behind the brand

7 DENHAM women on spearheading their career and dressing for the job The denim industry may be a man’s world. That’s a fact – traditionally and to this day. Yet at DENHAM we proudly work with a 50% female team. Taking the world of denim by storm in their very own way, we present seven high-achieving and inspirational DENHAM women. Dressed in our iconic DENHAM jeans and a new tee, launching today on International Women’s Day. The Perfect Tee in five fits – ranging from long- to short sleeve, boxy to fitted and with different necklines – to fit any shape and style. Words by Kaira van Wijk

DENHAM

Marleen van de Wouw, PR Manager, 34, Dutch Marleen has always been a denim girl. She does embody all that DENHAM represents: a clean and clear aesthetic, a love of heritage and craft. Having been with the house – starting out as a shop assistant – for 11 years, she knows the label in and out. You will rarely find her wearing colour, but she’s often in her trusted denim fit. Which allows her to move around and go about her goals with ease.

What's your go-to look on the job? ‘Jeans and a sweater. I gravitate towards high-quality basics with a bit of an oversized fit. Though always proportionate; I do balance out my silhouette with looser-fitting pants and a slightly more fitted top, and vice versa. Overall, I’m more into straight-fit jeans with a relaxed feel like DENHAM’s Bardot jeans. I jazz it up with a pair of loafers, maybe a sneaker, and a handkerchief playfully tied around my neck. I stick to my classic essentials. The same goes for jewellery: I’ve got a few precious heirlooms that I never take off.’ How do your style choices express your personality? ‘I guess that I’m straightforward, reliable, and approachable. What you see is what you get. Yet also pretty relaxed. All in all, I don’t really think about what I put on from day to day. My dress sense is very much inspired by my mood.’ When do you feel most empowered? ‘When I stick to what I believe in and go after what I want. In that zone I can be laser-focused.’

Marleen's favourites

DENHAM

Jony Meloen, Account Manager Womenswear, 32, Dutch

Trusting your gut and being independent is what Jony’s mother taught her from a young age. Now responsible for the sales of the entire women’s collection in The Netherlands these lessons have served her well. For an important meeting she feels most empowered in her trusted DENHAM jeans and solid basics like a tee and blazer.


How do your style choices express your personality?
‘I guess it shows that I’m driven and down-to-earth. My go-to look simply consists of wide-legged jeans and a tailored or slightly oversized blazer. I like to balance out the masculine and the feminine. Understated elegance.’

Which women inspire you?
‘My mother, who always looks beautiful, very classy, and has such a positive outlook on life. She hasn’t had it easy from the start – both her parents passed away when she was a child for instance – but she still managed to start her own business and build a beautiful life for herself. I also like media personality Vivian Hoorn. Just because she’s a successful entrepreneur who travels the globe but still keeps it real.’

When do you feel most in your power?
‘When I’m prepared – which I think is the key to success – and succeed because of that. DENHAM gives me all the tools and motivation to push my boundaries and that way I have been able to truly excel.’


Jony's favourites

DENHAM

Nikki Verhaeg, Supply Chain Manager, 33, Dutch

Just back on the work floor with her little one, baby girl Bobbi-Mae, in tow, Nikki feels uplifted. ‘It’s a very familial environment at DENHAM where I get to be myself in every way – also now that I’ve sort of had to reinvent myself being a new parent’.


What’s your go-to look on the job?
‘Leather DENHAM pants, a black tee and a black blazer. The black makes me feel confident and in my power.

How has your style changed over the years?
‘I can imagine people who have just seen me yesterday and then again today might be like: who is this person? (Laughs) My style is very eclectic. Depending on my mood, one day I can be in sneakers and jeans, next in a dress and cowboy boots. I’ve also had all types of hairdos throughout the years: short, long, pink, half-shaven. I also love to experiment with new styles and trends, but denim is an essential.’

Which women inspire you?
‘Style wise I adore Victoria Beckham. She looks so feminine and in her power. Big shirts, big blazers, big shades. I wouldn’t mind raiding her closet. I do love seeing more and more women reaching positions of power. Like Marianne van Leeuwen, who’s now CEO of professional football at KNVB, Royal Dutch Football Association. To see that happening in a male-dominated industry is really cool.’


Nikki's favourites

DENHAM

Nadia Zouaoui, HR & Office Coordinator, 38, Dutch

Not being able to wear high heels for nine months throughout her pregnancy is something Nadia found to be pretty dreadful. Back from maternity leave, she’s happy to be wearing her favourite shoes and jeans again. Celebrating the body that she’s come to fully appreciate especially after giving birth. Her casually feminine style is highlighted by her joyful persona.


What’s your go-to look on the job?
‘I lean towards a feminine aesthetic yet not classically feminine. I like to opt for jeans in different fits, but the straight-leg Bardot fit is a favourite right now. Then I like to wear a sculptural pair of heels and a top with an interesting shape like wide sleeves or a wide neck. Showing some skin in a subtle way.’

How do your style choices express your personality?
‘I hope it wholeheartedly radiates my essence: someone with a positive mindset. My friends would describe me as bubbly, and you’ll often hear me burst out into laughter in the DENHAM building. (Laughs) I like to think of a glass half-full. Subsequently, I think that’s what you can also tell from the way I dress.’

When do you feel most seen?
‘When I’m valued for what I’m here to do: lend people a sympathetic ear, help people thrive. That could be a dear friend, when she’s going through something emotional, or here at work of course. It’s my job to pay attention to the mental well-being of everyone around me.


Nadia's favourites

DENHAM

Martina Micheli, Head of E-commerce, 36, Italian

Italian-born Martina Micheli started at DENHAM in 2019. Never shying away from a challenge, she was part of launching e-comm for DENHAM to great acclaim. ‘My job is about numbers, but it’s also highly creative. As in solution driven and you constantly have to evolve and learn something new. DENHAM has a very openminded company culture – unlike more stale corporates – so we get to run with our ideas and make magic happen.’


How has your style changed over the years?
‘I’m from Florence, a place that as you may know is all about the arts, and my background before I came to DENHAM is in luxury brands. Style-wise DENHAM is very friendly, approachable, but still with an eye on craftsmanship and product excellence. I think I used to chase what was shown on the runway more. Now I’m cosier, more comfortable, yet still with an edge. I like to play with colours, with silhouettes, and with layering.’

What’s your go-to look on the job?
‘That would have to be DENHAM Bardot or Keira jeans and my much-loved Tabi boots by Maison Margiela. Accessorized with a leather belt with gold hardware, a slightly oversized poplin shirt with a tee underneath and some jewellery. I also can’t do without a good manicure.’

Which women inspire you?
‘Friends of mine who work in high positions who also have children. I’m like: wow, you’re a cyborg! (Laughs) They can easily take on and slip into all kinds of roles: mom, manager, partner, you name it. I think as women we’re incredibly powerful that way and it’s really important to remind ourselves and each other of that. My mother was also a working woman who lived with my father in another city than their families, so they had to do everything themselves. I have huge respect for that.


Martina's favourites

DENHAM

Kenouly Lo Van, Digital Operations Manager, 34, French

Moving from Lyon to Paris and then Amsterdam to pursue her dreams, Kenouly has always walked her own path. Over the years she has also found self-expression in exploring her personal style. That style is a balancing act between a clean aesthetic and luxury accessories that showcase her love of design.


How has your style changed over the years?
‘My style has always been fairly simple. A pair of neutral-coloured jeans or pants and a tee. I barely wear make-up. Then I accessorize with a statement bag and shoes like flat slingbacks to add a fancy touch. Before I would mainly wear skinny jeans because I’m quite slender and I felt like I was drowning in bigger styles. Now that I have gained more confidence in myself and my body I also love to dress in straight and loose fits.’

Which woman inspires you?
‘Aung San Suu Kyi, the politician who fought to bring democracy to then military-ruled Myanmar. How she fought for human rights and didn’t back down to stand up for her values I find that to be very admirable.’

When do you feel most seen?
‘When I connect with my friends and family back home. They view me as brave person who moved countries and made it all on her own. My parents are refugees; they are originally from Laos and therefore I grew up in Lyon, France. My upbringing was very loving but also strict. I wasn’t allowed to do the same things as my two brothers. In my early twenties I moved about 700km away from my parents to study in the north of France, then moved and worked in Paris to eventually end up in The Netherlands. It forced me out of my comfort zone and, with trial and error, helped me stand up for myself and come into my own. I’m proud of that.’


Kenouly's favourites

DENHAM

Oyunaa Kerssens, Repair Assistant, 20, Dutch

When Oyunaa was nine years old she went with her parents to Kojima, the birthplace of Japanese denim. She was immediately sold and has worn loose-fit denim since. ‘Kids would ask me whether I was a boy or girl. I replied: I’m just a child.’ Luckily, she never swayed and always stayed true to her style. Stepping into her father’s footsteps – teaching denim at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute for nearly 35 years –, she now works at DENHAM’s repair service.


What’s your go-to look?
‘You can basically picture me in jeans any day of the week. I love the fabric; the more you wear it the more beautiful it becomes. Denim works with anything. I usually pair it with a white cotton tee. No jewellery, no notable accessories, just Dr. Martens boots. My style is quite clean, but over the years I moved towards more quality materials and socially aware brands and designers.’

What does your love of denim say about your personality?
‘Denim is literally workwear. That’s how it started out at least. I think it does show that I’m persistent, that I’m not a quitter and that I put in the work. Drive and dedication, that’s really important to me. Whether big or small, that’s how I’ve always been able to create opportunities for myself. From organizing a symposium on sustainability to landing this job at DENHAM which I love.’

Which women inspire you?
‘The women around me, especially those from my study association The New Mode Collective and Dirty Laundry. I feel we can move mountains together. Yet also game-changers like Alice Tonello of the Tonello family, who specialises in washing machines for denim. Amy Wang, the general manager of Advance Denim who started on the factory floor and worked her way up, and Tricia Carey, the driving force behind the brand TENCEL™.’


Oyunaa's favourites