Ruedi Karrer aka the Swiss jeans freak
Name: Ruedi Karrer
Instagram ID: @swissjeansfreak
Daily work: Geographer with Geographical Information System on water management of the Kanton Zuerich
Who are you and what are you doing within the (denim) industry?
I'm Ruedi Karrer born in a remote alpine village in 1959 and collecting heavy faded and vintage raw denim since 2 Levis jeans arrived at my parents home back in 1973 in a cloth donation parcel,
I'm the founder of the little Jeansmuseum of heaviest fadings, whitch I opened in Zuerich In 2001 just 20 years ago. It's open on request. With showing strong natural raw denim evolution on many samples and from many brands compared to same new items I wanna keep the raw denim spirit alive and convince people to create their own fades over years on a new raw denim pants instead of buying fast fashion with many artificial fadings and treatments with holes includeed in the price already
Over 14.000 jeans and denim jackets and many other stuff like books, ads, banners,… have been collected so far.
What are you currently working on?
I'm still working as a GIS specialist for the government of Zuerich until my retirement in around 2 years and taking care of the denim collection as a hobby until then. I plan to increase my work for the Jeansmuseum after my retirement. I started the pre sorting off all stuff with the help of a friend in July 2002 to get an overview of all items. This first inventory should be finished next year.
What is the biggest achievement so far in your career?
That I could build up a denim archive over the last 48 years and making it accessible to the public at least in a small way, despite the very low budget of not even 20.000 Dollars annually and all paid out of my own pockets without any subsidies or sponsorships.
I'm also so happy that I could make 120 pairs of my 60 birthday jeans with the help of @candianidenim and @imjit35020.
Another important step is showing people the power of natural raw denim evo on my Instagram account and on some denim fairs and trade shows, sometimes combined with workshops. The physical part of trade shows and exhibitions is almost dead since March 2020 because of the Covid pandemic and I can't wait to come back again, when it's over
What is/are your favorite denim brand(s), and why?
This is the most difficult question. I love soooo many brands
The traditional ones: Levis, Lee, Wrangler
Japanese brands like Big John, Denime, Edwin, Eight-G, Evisu, Flathead, FOB, Fullcount, Ironheart, Japan Blue, Momotaro, Oni, Pure Blue Japan, Samurai, Strike Gold, Studio d'Artisan, Sugarcane, Warehouse …..
Brands in Europe like APC, Benzak, Blaumann, Blue Blanket, Denham, Eatdust, Grivecs, Hensteeth, Indigofera, Manufaktur Blaugang, Nudie, Pike Brothers, Rokker, Tulp, Ullac, …
US and Canada; brands like 3x1, 3 sixteen, Carhartt, Naked & Famous, Rising Sun, Rogue Territory, Tellason, WH Ranchdungarees,…
Indonesian brands like Mischief, Nobrandedon, Oldblueco Sage, …
Or non existing brands anymore like: Atelier La Durance, Ande Whall, Denim Demon, Imperial, Pace,
Some older styles from some european brands from the 70's until 90's like Big Star, G-Star, Lee Cooper, Lois, Marcel Scheiner, Mustang, Pepe, Rifle, …
My raw denim brain is melting about heaviest naturally faded greencast and left hand twill denim fabric at least 14 oz or more!!!
What is your favorite denim store, and why?
VMC in Zuerich with a huge selection of awesome raw denim brands, but I love all raw denim stores around the world. Perhaps because I'm just a little bit raw denim addicted?
What do you think we can expect in the (near) future of denim developments as it comes to sustainability?
The real raw denim market is still a bit low a.t.m. as I can see on the streets, but I think it will come back soon. I expect some more traditional old school styles showing up and perhaps even a few new raw denim brands again, despite the rougher raw denim market. In addition to remixing all kind of styles. I hope that the denim market would change more from the fast fashion Industry to more sustainable products without prefadings, predistressings and more 100 % organic cotton combined with more sustainable fibres like sugarcane, hemp or recycled cotton. There is still an extremely long way to go and we should react quickly!! And we should redo two more things again: Repair and recycle/upcycle
What is the most valuable lesson your have learned during your work?
The strong relation ship built up between the owner and his or her favorite jeans or denim jacket because of the denim evolution with fadings, wears and tears reflecting a long part of the owners personal life over years.
If you could be someone else for one day, who would you be, and why?
I would love to be a huge honey comb on a hardcore naturally faded heavy weight blue jeans worn by a person In an authentic way as a working cloth. In real I would love to be a rebel like James Dean, marlon Brando or beeing a part of the Beatles or other persons I was adoring 50 years ago since I was too shy back then to be my own rebel
Can you describe your ultimate pair of jeans?
A never washed but hardcore broken G-Star US-Lumber jeans I've got second hand over 25 years ago, a lefthand twill denim fabric with an amaaaaaaaaaaazing greencast fading, or my 25 oz Iron Heart jeans worn by myself 1008 wear days and still never washed or my still never washed Lee Storm rider blanket lined denim jacket. Worn for almost 10 winter seasons, or my never washed Benzak greencast jeans and many more…
Do you have a life slogan, or one that inspires you?
Live as authentic as possible, help other people if needed and try to respect the beautiful nature as much as possible. We are a part of it, we can't survive without it and we don't have a spare one. Be active and take care of good and close friendships including your relatives.