We are Marcel and Roger. We are Bulang.
For the second interview in our series, we got together with the Grivec brothers. The brand of the same name has earned the twins their spot in the Dutch and international menswear and fashion world. Ever since Marcel and Roger turned their family’s jeans business into a studio for exclusive denim and garments, the label Grivec Bros stands for fine style and a down-home attitude – from Chevremont all the way to Shibuya.
Please give us a short recap of how it all began back at your parents’ shop.
Marcel: Their first shop – the Jeanspaleis – was opened in 1976, we were still very young at the time. So we grew up between Levi’s and Wrangler jeans. The only thing we saw in our youth was jeans. We didn’t know anything else.
Roger: We were practically born in jeans. They probably wore jeans while making us!
So it was only a natural step to get into this business?
Marcel: Yes, when we were 18 years old, our parents decided to split up, and we took over – it wasn’t easy, we were young, little nothings that suddenly had to run five stores.
When did the idea of starting your own brand come up?
Roger: That was always in the back of our minds, ever since about 2008.Marcel: Around that time we started to repair our own jeans.Roger: To do so we needed a proper sewing machine, which we have finally received by none other than Jason Denham. After a while, people noticed what we were doing and we had requests from clients to repair their jeans. So we bought the next sewing machine and so on…
Marcel: At that time, each of us had already seen about 30.000 jeans passing in our stores, and we thought, we take this detail of that jeans, and that detail from another one, and we make our own perfect jeans.
Crafting jeans is one thing – but how difficult was it to create your own label?
Marcel: Looking back, that was a heavy process. You have to find a name, create a logo, buy the right fabrics, the yarns, everything! It was a totally different game for us.
From your experience, what makes denim so special?
Marcel: It’s a really great fabric to work with. It ages well, it gets more beautiful with wear. Of course, it has to be denim – a jeans with stretch material is no jeans to us.
Yours is a classic case of »making your passion your work«. Besides passion, what does it take to be successful at this?
Marcel: Stay true to yourself and believe in what you do. Make honest products and make them with beautiful and nice people. At the end of the day you will go home with a big smile on your face. And I think that’s what success is – success is not only about how much money you have in the bank.
As twin brothers working together, do you fight a lot?
Roger: Yeah, all the time, and I win!
Marcel: No, we almost never have fights. We do have discussions, and that’s OK, we don’t have to agree all the time. But as identical twins, you really do often have the same ideas, feelings, answers and opinions. It’s sometimes more difficult for others to work with us – because we understand each other so well.
You’re not based in Amsterdam or Berlin, but in the border town of Kerkrade. How did you manage to make your brand so strong?
Marcel: We call it Chevremont, the district we live in, it just sounds a little better. But yeah, it happened all here. We’ve had a good look at the history of the jeans in the USA, and Levi Strauss, he made pants for the gold miners of their day. And it was here in Kerkrade where the first jeans in Holland were sold because of the coal miners in this area. So, regarding jeans, it doesn’t get much more authentic!
Roger: I also believe that you don’t have to be in Berlin or Amsterdam to start a business. The world’s best restaurants in the world are mostly not in the busy cities, for some of them you have to drive 200 kilometers into the middle of nowhere.
How do you still find the time for other passions – and what are they?
Marcel: For me, it’s aikido. It’s a big passion of mine and I really make time for it. I train six to eight hours a week. I have many other passions, but a mutual passion for Roger and me are watches.
Roger: But we don’t have to go anywhere to be passionate about watches, it doesn’t take a lot of time. It just takes money!
So, let’s get to the watches. What’s on your wrist and why?
Marcel: I fell in love with my first watch when I was 13. We were at a boarding school in Austria, and there was one older guy, about 18 years old, who was wearing a Rolex. I had never seen anything like it. So when I turned 18, I got one myself. It was the first time I bought something big like that, a second hand Rolex. When I needed money, I sold it, and then I got another one, and so on. Then a couple of years ago, Bernhard came to our shop, and he wore a 5513, and for me, that has always been the watch. I asked him to let me feel it and look at it. At that point I had not owned a Rolex for a couple of years. I showed it to my wife who was at the shop and she said, OK then, buy it! And I did, and I still love it. It’s a very classic watch, you can wear it every day, whether in a suit or in a pair of swim trunks.
Roger, what is your watch story?
Roger: The GMT you see me wearing in the pictures is my first ever Rolex. My first love, and that’s why I wear it the most. The colours look so cool and it goes great with denim. I have a few others, but this is the one. I only got it a few years ago. Before that, I was into bikes, and that cost a lot of money, so after I sold my last bike, I thought about getting a big US car, but that’s such a money pit. And Marcel kept talking to me about watches, so in the end I decided to get a GMT. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
Marcel: But it’s no money pit.
Roger: But it’s an addiction. And once you start with a GMT, you want another one and then another one. So, it’s an addiction, but a nice addiction.
We are proud to offer an exclusive range of products from Grivec Bros. Their artisan crafted leather belts have become a mainstay in our portfolio, and for the launch of their new chambray blouses we are now cooperating again with Roger and Marcel. A cooperation that is to be continued with more beautiful Grivec Bros. products in our store! Check their website or Instagram for more on this amazing brand straight outta Chevremont!