Behind the Seams: Denham Greig’s Adventures in Apparel
When you hear his name, it almost sounds like fate that Denham Greg, Kontoor’s Director of Product Supply in Africa, ended up working with Lee® and Wrangler®. “Some of our staff in our regional office pronounce ‘denim’ as Denham, and I started to say, ‘Yes, can I help you?’” he laughs. But, for Denham, it was a long and interesting path to the apparel industry across many countries, continents and languages to get to where he is today in beautiful Kenya. Denham loves the culture, being part of Kontoor’s presence there and, of course, a view of nature like no other. “In between July and August, we have the wildebeest migration…it’s something everyone has to experience once in their lifetime.”
We talked to Denham recently about the opportunities in Africa, his interests, and how his time in the International Merchant Navy helped prepare him for his role with Kontoor.
How did you get your start?
Back in the nineties I joined an International Merchant Navy, studying nautical science to be a navigating officer. But in '97, I met my sweetheart – who is now my wife – and took up merchandising back home in Sri Lanka. I think the training and discipline really helped me fast track my career in the apparel industry. I moved to Pakistan in 2004 for a role as a merchandising and marketing head. In 2010, I moved to Bangladesh working for a manufacturer as an Operations Director and eventually leading operations for an apparel company in Bangladesh. A few years and moves in between, I’m now in Kenya, leading Kontoor’s sourcing operations in Africa.
What do you enjoy about the apparel industry in Africa?
The apparel industry is a major employer, providing a way of life for many people in developing countries. While Kontoor doesn’t directly manufacture products in Africa, our sourcing presence helps directly and indirectly provide opportunities. When I started in 2016, we only had a couple remote employees in Africa and we’ve since expanded the team.
What is a typical work week like for you?
Prior to March and the COVID-19 pandemic, I was traveling extensively. Kenya is our hub, but we manage supplier relationships in Ethiopia, Lesotho and Egypt. I was basically on a flight every week visiting other vendors and meeting with our remote staff. But since March, I've been operating from home. I take great pride in saying that the Kenyan regional office was one of the first to participate in virtual factory tours. We had a four-hour virtual visit with one of our suppliers, and it was a fantastic experience.
What’s your favorite Kontoor apparel?
I love the Lee MVP Series – the Extreme Motion slim fit, straight fit. That's my go-to pair of jeans. And I really love the 101s. These are great fits.
What are your favorite hobbies?
One of my passions is watching cricket and rugby. But another is traveling … whenever I get the opportunity, I travel around the region on a vacation to somewhere like Uganda. I've been to more than 45 countries in my lifetime, so you can say it's in my blood.