Almost a year and a half in the making, Vancouver-based label Neon Denim Brand has just shipped its first assortment of men’s and women’s denim and streetwear for fall 2021. Owned by industry and streetwear veteran Raif Adelberg, who’s designer and art director; Colton Showers, director, and Bryan Pudney, operations, the label is offering quality denim with responsible production at an affordable price: nothing in the line goes above $250 retail.
“It was about taking our backgrounds — my background is kind of skate, surf, punk, rock; I’ve always applied that to the luxury world, so let’s take that to a denim line. I’m inspired by Double RL, Celine, Yohji [Yamamoto], Helmut Lang, Rick Owens, [John] Galliano, all those brands,” Adelberg explained over the phone, adding that his experiences working in the industry — both design and retail — were key to the brand’s inception. “It was about creating this brand and identity, without having any assets or social media. Creating this mood board, which is what [the brand’s] Instagram had become.”
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The brand mixes ideas from youth culture, luxury and streetwear with elements that have defined the category — tougher washes inspired by workwear heritage — and a timeless appeal. For fall, offering denim styles with just enough trend and toughness with easy wearability for all ages was key.
“Denim has always been catered to this young market, ages 19 to 35 type of thing. I said, as well as the youth market, I want to still reach out to the 40- to 60-year-olds. It’s great to show a pair of jeans with a pair of Vans, but I’d also love to show it with a beautiful pair of shoes and a handbag, show it dressed up and use more mature models,” Adelberg said. “The brand, for me, we’re the paint and it’s for someone to apply it to their canvas, to their style.”
Designed in Vancouver and produced in China, the brand’s denim fashions are warp certified (noted as ISO9000, ITS, BV) and factory approved by U.S. and European department stores. Key styles for the brand’s fall debut include skinny, straight-leg and baggy silhouettes in washes ranging from vintage black and blue and black wax to acid-bleached blue and dirty wash across men’s and women’s (both offering size ranges 25 to 38). The brand also offers Japanese cotton sweatshirts and T-shirts with screen-printed graphics such as Neon Denim Brand logos or other culture-centric motifs. As the brand grows its denim styles (jumpers and overalls, dresses, shirts, jackets and blazers were noted for women’s), the ability to scale consistently is seen as essential.
“As it grows, so does our awareness of what the consumers are looking for and what they’re feeling. For me, it’s about making sure the story has continuity, but at the same time, listening to the consumers,” he said. “In the past, I always did things where I was always recreating the wheel — if I made a sweater that sold well, next season I changed it and made a different sweater. Now, it’s, ‘OK, you like that jean? We’re going to keep that jean, put it in our core collection, have inventory on it, and offer it in a couple of different washes.’ Broadening the brand while also shrinking it at the same time.”
The line is available on Neon Denim Brand’s e-commerce site, as well as with retailers across North America, such as American Rag, Capsule NYC, Gotstyle and others.