Jan studied at the Danish school of applied art – now The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design – from 1972-1976.
While still in his final year, he was sought out for a position at the company Made In, creating all collections for the brand for more than a decade and, for a large part of the year, travelling all over the world. Jan’s travels included stays in India, where he carefully chose materials and oversaw the production first hand. Working in India and in close collaboration with the local craftsmen was a source of inspiration on both sides. The Indian partners acquired new skills in their own element without ever doing work that felt unnatural to them, which greatly benefitted the resulting products.
After having worked closely with the industrial end of the clothes making business through Made In, Jan decided to move away from heavy production and marketing. The desire for a creative laboratory in which to experiment with innovative techniques away from the constraint of a tight delivery schedule resulted in the opening of the boutique and showroom Zone 1 in the heart of Copenhagen. Jan established Zone 1 in partnership with Erik Tyrrell, who is still a vital part of the boutique and who has a close relation to the wide circle of devoted customers.
Zone 1, the eponymous brand, and the diffusion brand Biozone arose from the desire to immerse in the creative process and meticulously test out ideas.
The autonomy of this new space allowed Jan to work with artistic freedom, which immediately bore fruit. He received a string of recognitions, both from a growing circle of devoted clients and in the form of prestigious prizes – including the prize of the Danish Council of Craftsmen, which he was the first clothing designer to receive, the Georg Jensen-prize, which at the time was the most sought after recognition for designers in Scandinavia, and the three-year working-grant from The Danish Arts Foundation.
Simultaneously, Jan taught clothing design at the Danish school of applied art. This allowed him to further work towards manifesting the position of Denmark as a country most capable of presenting design and designers with integrity, sense, and love for the crafting process.
Today, Zone 1 still carries Jan’s collections of carefully crafted and selected items, now in his own name.
As an addition to the namesake brand, Jan and his right hand in the firm, designer Line Hangaard, launched a line of tailored shirts by the name of Jan Machenhauer Shirts in 2012.
All clothes are, as always, meticulously tailored and crafted by hand, in small batches, by an intimate staff – including designer Line Hangaard and chief tailor, Jung Van at the atelier in Copenhagen.
To pay tribute to likeminded designers, Zone 1 now also carries a carefully selected range of quality wares from brands such as John Smedley, Emma Hope, Bella Freud, and Roberto Collina, all chosen for their exceptional qualities and uncompromising craftsmanship, neatly complementing the Jan Machenhauer aesthetic.
The design collaboration has been a thread running through Jan’s career, and he is especially grateful for the sparring he has received from some of Denmark’s best textile designers: Iben Brøndum, Nina Hart, Lisbeth Friss, and Margrethe Odgaard. Their inspirational work, together with Jan’s creative freedom has made it possible to experiment with innovative solutions for Jan Machenhauer and the sibling brands – without ever having to retort to standard prints or generic techniques.
Never stagnant, always experimenting with innovative techniques and challenging given frames, Jan Machenhauer is, as ever, guarantee for an extraordinary sartorial experience – when visiting Zone 1 as well as when you reach for your favourite piece from your wardrobe.