Denim Is Very Serious Business for Douglas Friedman
In San Francisco there is a laboratory that measures the effects on natural materials by ozone, lasers, and acids. The people who work at this lab are constantly exploring, creating, and innovating what will ultimately change the way we interact with the world. Specifically our denim. The lab is Levis’ Eureka Innovation Lab, and it is filled with creative people who love denim and are searching to discover the next level of invention. Photographer Douglas Friedman teamed up with GQ Germany to explore this creative hub. “The whole thing was so exciting to see how they make jeans, how they make Levis, how bespoke and hands-on and organic the process is,” says Douglas. “It’s a lot less clinical than I thought it was going to be. It’s an experimental laboratory where they play and they create.”
The lab is full of the kinds of machines you’d expect at any laboratory, but at Levis’ Innovation Lab, it’s not the sparkling clean familiar to a medical facility with the sterile science behind the slow trudge of medicine. Instead, it’s a much more dynamic environment. “Everyone who works there is young and creative and there’s energy that was inspiring and exciting to be around,” says Douglas. “Giant washing machines full of stones for the stone washing, acid for the acid washing, vats of indigo dye to makes shirts and jeans and experiment with different colors and textures and this incredible machine that uses a laser beam to age brand new denim. It was all so fascinating.” There are even safes where they lock up their experiments. It’s very serious business.
When it comes to Douglas’ own denim he’s just as serious, taking the time and effort to age them on his own. He gets his pairs crisp and wears them until they’re aged exactly the way he likes them. But, even though his jeans aren’t coming out of Levis’ Innovation Lab, he has one rule: “I only have Levis jeans.” He is brand loyal.
When asked if he notices a work adjustment to cater to photographic tastes in other countries, Douglas jokes with a laugh, “I have a really healthy relationship with the countries of Germany and France.” His style remains signature to Douglas Friedman, no matter where he finds himself.