Blue Blooded Q&A: Ruedi Karrer aka the Swiss Jeans Freak

This Blue Blooded Q&A series is a collaboration with Long John. The series is sponsored by Bluezone, the independent show for denim and sportswear by Munich Fabric Start. Register for the next show here!

Get to know Ruedi Karrer, a face from the Blue Blooded Portfolio

For readers of Denimhunters (and denimheads in general), Ruedi Karrer really needs no introduction.

He’s been wearing and collecting raw denim since before most of us were born. He’s dedicated his life to his denim passion, driven by a vision to establish an independent jeans museum.

I’ve known Ruedi for some 7-8 years, and we’ve become close friends. Last year, supported by Candiani, I helped him realise and document his dream of making his very own jeans.

In case you haven’t seen the documentary about the project (which I co-directed), I’ve inserted it at the end of this Q&A.

What’s your story?

Ruedi Karrer, Swiss Jeans Freak, Blue Blooded Portfolio, Denimhunters,
Ruedi’s portrait in the Blue Blooded Portfolio

Ruedi Karrer aka the Swiss Jeans Freak


Born on September 8, 1959, in Ratitsch, Graubünden where I grew up in the mountains. Living in Zurich since 1980.


Working as a Geographer with Geographical Information Systems about water management for the government of Zurich.



Ruedi’s path into the denim business

Thomas: How did you get into (the world of) denim?

Ruedi: We received two pairs of Levi’s jeans in a clothing donation parcel in 1973. Raw denim became a fetish for me quickly with an important status symbol of being a rebel like movie and rock stars such as James Dean, Elvis, Status Quo, and others.

T: What was your first pair of jeans?

R: Those two secondhand Levi’s 501 and 505 Big E from the mid-60s, which I had to share with my brothers.

T: When did you know you were ‘hooked’ on raw denim?

R: When I turned 14 years old (in 1973).

T: What is your favourite thing about raw denim?

R: The whole natural ageing progress of any raw denim jeans or denim jacket showing the full power of denim evolution at its best, reflecting a part of the owner’s personal life.

Ruedi’s views on the denim business

T: What‘s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far, and what did you learn from it?

R: I have to accept that I can‘t convince all raw denimheads to never ever wash their raw denim gear and to never ever throw it away. And that most items will be thrown away someday, although this is killing my raw denim heart every day!

I also faced the reality that it’s not easy to start with a new raw denim brand when you have quite some limitations. But, despite this, it was amazing that I could realise my 60th birthday Swiss Jeans Freak jeans with the help of many people.

Another unforgettable lifetime experience is to meet the incredible raw denim enthusiasts of the crazy Indonesian raw denim community, fighting hard against the tropical sweat fade every day!

T: Which denim brands inspire you? And why?

R: G-Star with their US Lumber model and Lennaert’s BDD and Eat Dust and Atelier La Durance with great screencast jeans. But I live also very much the old-styled raws from Levi’s, Lee, Wrangler and the entry-level brands like A.P.C., Edwin or Nudie like hell as well.

I also love other small raw denim brands like Tellason, Pike Brothers, RGT, Blaumann, Grivec, Indigofera, Pace, Denim Demon, W.H. Ranch Dungarees and some Indonesian brands like Oldblueco or Sage or Nbdn, and of course the Japanese brands so much. I just can’t list them all.

T: Which denim retailers inspire you? And why?

R: I like VMC in Zurich with a great assortment, Statement Store in Munich with amazing faded samples, Tenue de Nîmes in Amsterdam Burg & Schild in Berlin, Göteborg Manufaktur in Goteborg, but I know that I haven’t seen all the stores outside Europe.

Notice the socks-in-sandals

Ruedi defines his denim style

T: What do you never leave home without? And why?

R: I usually have one pair of jeans on my legs except for those very hot summer days when I switch to shorts or for swimming.

T: List 3 of your favourite garments or accessories and (try to) explain how they define your style

R: Lee’s blanket-lined Storm Rider denim jacket is my favourite jacket style for the office and for skiing.

Any green cast jeans like from BDD, Lee, Eat Dust or my Swiss Jeans Freak jeans is a must for my legs.

And of course my legendary sandals ????????????

Ready for More Q&As?

If you want to learn more about Ruedi, check out all the previous posts we’ve published about him here.

This Blue Blooded Q&A is a collaboration with Long John. Read his answers to the 10 ‘what’s your favourite’ questions at

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