Interview with Ruedi Karrer – founder of the Jeansmuseum

About a year ago I sold a pair of Indigoferas to Ruedi. He’s a funny bloke. Completely nuts about raw denim and one of the great folks in the denim community. Perhaps you know him better as Swissjeansfreak, as he calls himself on forums and Instagram.

Ruedi was born and raised in a remote Swiss mountain village with just 40 people, his family accounting for a little more than 25% of the population. They were poor, but that didn’t stop Ruedi from getting hooked on denim.

“After our poor family received in a cloth donation parcel 2 pairs of Levis jeans in the late 60’s I became totally raw denim addicted and I started collecting raw denim stuff at 1973”

Ruedi with some boxes at the museum
Ruedi handling some boxes at the museum

Ruedi moved to Zürich when he turned 21 but you can still clearly see his roots. He loves the nature; studied geography and works with water management for the government; loves skiing, hiking and other crazy mountain sports. And of course he does it all in raw denim.

Ruedi Karrer in the alps

How and when to wash your denim is one of the subjects that never stops being discussed. I’m not gonna say one thing is right and the other isn’t, to each his own. We all have our reasons for how we treat our denim and Ruedi is no different. He is one of the hardcore fanatics that never wash them at all. For Ruedi it all comes down to the color of the fabric. Once washed it changes from the raw denim color he loves so much to a more royal blue of which he isn’t a fan.

“Washing your jeans strengthen the fibres and extend the life of your denim fabrics. But I don’t care about this, because to keep the original color tone is much more important for me.”

Never washing your denim presents you with some issues though. Ruedi always wear jeans one size bigger than he actually needs. Roomier jeans equals less sweaty jeans and also somewhat prevents early crotch blowouts. Lots and lots of airing is still needed of course. Ruedi also lets his jeans go through three stages on their way towards retirement in the Jeansmuseum:

“1. Office pants: In the first stage I wear them as my office jeans or denim jacket as long as possible until the people start fleeing away from me or I get some free extra space in a crowded train ha ha.

2. Outdoor pants: As soon as they are just too dirty and first rips start showing up and too smelly for wearing inside a room I downgrade them as my outdoor pants for skiing, hiking bicycling and other outdoor activities

3. Work pants: And when completely falling apart, I downgrade them as my work pants in the forest, garden, on construction sites or doing some repair jobs at my parents farm place. In this last stage I don’t care anymore about how smelly, stinky filthy or stained they are since they have to stay outside in the bunkhouse after work anyway and not entering the living room area anymore.”

Ruedi in his Lee jacket and Denimes
Ruedi wearing his Denimes and Lee jacket – past phase 1

We all have different things about denim that we like. Of course Ruedi is no different than the rest of us, except maybe that he takes it a few steps further. Ruedi hit me with a list of 19 criterias making jeans awesome in Ruedi’s universe. If you wanna rock his world: sort out a a straight or boot cut in greencast, heavyweight denim, left hand or broken twill, thick and deep frontpocket bags, hidden rivets, long ass buttonfly with five buttons and two tone stitching – or go with some of the other eleven criterias of awsomeness.

“I love roomy pants that give you big, strong whiskers and huge honeycombs on them, same on denim jacket sleeves like on the wide sleeves on my Lee Storm Rider.”

Those big whiskers and huge honeycombs is exactly what pulled me into heavyweight denim. It wasn’t a huge surprise to me when Ruedi was presented as one of the jury members of the second and world wide round of the heavyweight denim championship. Ruedi truly lives his life in denim; be it skiing, hiking, chopping wood at his parents’ house or working at the office. He can truly appreciate a contest based on people sharing their life through a pair of jeans.

“I admire some raw denim heads which just after the beginning didn’t hesitated to do the dirty thing with their new raw denim projects, and throwing them in to the mud or whatever. Or other guys just started breaking them in the hard core way, as their work pants! I admire those people treating their stuff the hardest way.”

Ruedi is such a nice guy, always happy to share his knowledge and encourage other people on their denim journey. I’m barely scratching on the surface but hopefully you got a glimpse of who this “crazy raw denim freak” is. If you want to know more about Ruedi, there will soon be another part focusing on his pride and joy – The Jeansmuseum – published on Denimhunters. I will let you know when it’s up.

By Alex

I'm a Swedish denimhead working in marketing. In 2011 I got devoured by the denim scene after working for Levi's. You will also find me posting about denim on Superfuture under the handle Bobbo.

2 replies on “Interview with Ruedi Karrer – founder of the Jeansmuseum”

Thanks a lot Alex for this great post. With rescuing as many as possible retired but well loved raw denim projects from the garbage bin and displaying their power of denim evolution in the Jeansmuseum of heaviest fadings I always wanna try to keep the raw denim spirit alive to the visitors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *