Where to start when describing Tender Co.? Probably best to start with William Kroll himself. You could say that he has fashion in his blood, as his grandfather was the Art Editor for British Vogue in the 40s and 50s, and he actually made his first pair of jeans at just 14 years of age, albeit as a result of his obsession with construction, rather than fashion.
Following through with this early interest in making clothes, at 18, he headed of to London’s Central St. Martin’s College - pretty much the Ivy League of art & fashion in the UK - to study menswear, taking a year off to work at Hackett’s bespoke suiting department, which turned into a full 18 month apprenticeship at the table of a master tailor.
After graduating, William took a job with Evisu in Hong Kong, designing their Deluxe and Heritage collections, and it was with this brand that he was really given a baptism into the world of premium denim. After spending several years bouncing between Hong Kong and Japan on a regular basis, he left the job and headed to Okoyama, Japan to learn indigo dyeing, eventually returning home to the UK, where, in 2009, he founded Tender Co.
Tender Co. began, in a mirror of the 14-year-old William Kroll’s first dalliance with shears, needle and thread, with a single pair for jeans made by William, for himself. Using the wealth of experience he had built up in his career to that point, he started with a vision of making something quite unlike any other pair of jeans on the market. Drawing influences from everything from classic workwear, to 18th century formalwear, to Spencerian penmanship, a unique, yet classic, pair of jeans was born.
Today, Tender Co. produces a wide array of goods, from the jeans that started it all through to hand-thrown ceramic mugs and beakers - one of which, I’m actually drinking tea from as I write this. In his spare time, William teaches Denim Projects at his old college.
The main ethos of Tender Co. still remains to do something that’s easy to make to formula in a different way, without losing the essence of the garment itself, and to produce all of it in the United Kingdom.
To that end, one of the things that Tender Co. is known for is the use of unusual, all-natural dyes, many of which are plant-based, such as chlorophyll, wattle (where the dye is extracted a type of acacia tree), logwood and woad (the forebear of indigo) and even some more esoteric materials, such as verdigris, which is actually the green rust that forms on some metals after oxidization; probably the most visible verdigris in the world is that covering the Statue Of Liberty.
Attention to detail in both the construction itself and the methods employed therein is another hallmark of Tender Co. Examples include the single stich on the denim waistband through the coin/thumb pocket - yes, it’s one continuous stitch for the whole waistband, including the pocket seams - the pocketbags being cut from selvedge denim, the hand over-dyeing with woad, the solid brass, lost-wax cast top button, the double folded hems, the triple-stitched seat seam and the fabric-lined belt loops – and all of those examples are from just one specific item of clothing from Tender Co.’s collection.
Ultimately, Tender Co. produces the kind of goods that are epitomize the idea of the ‘investment piece’ - things that, over time, become personal to you and that you’ll still be happy to pull out of your closet a decade from now.