FWA The Hunt – Leather Jacket Part 3

Image

After spending the last week or so looking at all the options available in terms of leathers, style cuts and fastenings I decided that my absolute favourite leather jacket out there was one that I would never be able to afford in a month of Sundays. I won’t mention which jacket it is as that would be pointless, but what I set about doing was to find a jacket which offers a similar aesthetic and quality for a little less pocket change, and I think I have succeeded.

Image

The style of jacket I wanted was one which is vintage in appearance but not dated, has buttons rather than zippers, offers mobility and comfort and sits at waist length. The leather has to be substantial but pliable, the construction needs to be top notch and the whole supply chain has to be ethical. After speaking to some friends and peers who know far more about leather jackets than I do, the choice of company and jacket came back as unanimous. The FWA jacket of choice will be the Alexander Leathers Simmons jacket in Horween Steer Hide.

Image

The price of the Simmons jacket is far from unreasonable at £500, unfortunately it is more than I have available to me at the moment what with damn pesky family holiday, children requiring entertainment and a wife who positively demands that we buy food to fill our cupboards, bah! So the next issue facing the hunt is how to raise the funds to secure this next FWA item. Ordinarily I would simply identify items in my wardrobe which did not see much use, sell them and use the money to buy the item which will see use. Unfortunately after two years of doing exactly this has left me with exactly what I wanted, a functional, minimal wardrobe with no more room for cuts. So what are the options….

Image

I go on a family holiday to Barcelona in 5 weeks time, so between now and then all my spare funds will be diverted to that so that my son can recklessly squander hideous amounts of money on the merchandising of Barcelona football club, and in particular his favourite player Lionel Messi, so I could throw myself into doing extra hours at work after this which would mean that I could afford the jacket at the end of October. I could take a decision that this FWA is more necessary than another I already own (or some others) and sacrifice them from my possession to fund the purchase or I could simply accept that for the foreseeable future it is out of my reach. I am selling some things on eBay currently but nothing which will bring me within touching distance of picking up the jacket. Honestly it is looking like the conclusion of this first FWA hunt will have to be postponed for a while in order for funds to be raised.

Image

Nevertheless the choice has been made and once I figure out how to acquire it I will give it the usual FWA gonzo review treatment right here. Now to consider the next FWA, and this time a much cheaper one.

Advertisements

Denim HQ – Denim Monk Part 1

Image

I know that I’m an asshole !

I know that some of my views are not popular, I know that the way I look at certain things makes people angry, I am referring in particular to when I talk about peoples spending habits, my perception of greed and waste and the guys who wear their denim like it’s a dress up costume. Well, these are my opinions and I don’t ask anyone to agree with me, or even acknowledge them, I state them in my own words and in my own little corner of the internet. The question which I know people ask, and I know because I have been told, is that some folks want to know if I can practice what I preach. I am aware that any new item which I acquire is met with derision by certain individuals who take it as a sign of me not having the courage of my convictions, so I’m going to set about showing that I live by what I say.

Image

What I’ve been up to.

Over a period of the last 18 months I have gone through a process of trimming down my wardrobe, I have got rid of almost everything that I don’t wear regularly, of which the last remains are currently on eBay. I have sold expensive and unused items to fund more necessary things in my personal life such as household and car repairs, and family trips and I am almost at the point where the clothing I have left in my wardrobe is all regularly used, but nothing much else is required. It is filled with items that I love and firmly believe to be amongst the best available, as evidenced by the FWA posts, so I am almost satisfied that I have a wardrobe which is both functional and enjoyable and filled with items which are versatile and timeless. This has been done on purpose to get me to the point where I can begin my Denim Monk challenge.

Image

The Denim Monk challenge

The Denim Monk challenge is something which has been going through my mind for over a year now, ever since I first provoked indignant response by suggesting that people who own 25 pairs of jeans and 40 shirts were perhaps behaving a little excessively. It is a simple challenge with a few built in caveats to make it eminently achievable and goes hand in hand with my FWA philosophy of owning and using the very best, timeless items I can lay my hands on. The challenge in its most basic form is that I will not be purchasing any new denim items, shirts, jackets, coats, leather goods or boots for a period of not shorter than 24 months, no new purchases on a whim, nothing brought in because it’s a bargain or because I just fancy a change, what I have will take me through this next two years, sort of.

Image

The caveats

Like I said, there are a couple of caveats, the first of which being that I won’t stopping my FWA leather jacket quest as I see that as an action already in motion not to mention it is an item which will see plenty of use, the next FWA’s I intend to investigate are for things not covered by the challenge (tee’s, sneakers etc..) so the FWA hunt will not have to stop. The second caveat is that for business purposes I might need to acquire a new pair of jeans at the end of the year if I decide to run another denim contest, at the moment I am undecided on that and even if I do I might stick to administrating it rather than competing, we will see. Lastly, if I manage to find gainful, full time employment in the industry with an employer who’s wares I need to use I will of course be doing so. Now, to be clear as to which items are included and which are not I have drawn up the following lists.

Included                          Not Included (consumables)

Jeans                               Tee Shirts
Jackets                            Underwear
Coats                               Socks
Flannel Shirts                  Sports wear (sneakers, jogging trousers etc..)
Denim Shirts                   Night wear
Shoes                             Hats (I’m bald!)
Boots                             Cheap, ethical knitwear basics (not loopwheeled expensive knitwear)
Watches
Leather goods
Bags
Loopwheeled knitwear

Image

Is it really difficult?

You might be thinking that this sounds easy, or you might be thinking that I must be insane. For me personally it will only be difficult because I work retailing some really cool brands, who kindly give me discount on their products (and I really like their products), so I will have to negate that desire. I would guess that most folks wouldn’t think that this is a particularly tough challenge, indeed I don’t think it’s a tough challenge at all, which begs the question why don’t more people live like this? The answer is twofold and simple, firstly they simply don’t want to and secondly humans naturally ignore things which conflict with their ideal of how to live, think, act and look.

My contention is that the hoarding of expensive clothing misses the point of the clothing in the first place. This is clothing which is meant to be worn, used to its potential and enjoyed, having 20 of them all neatly in a drawer defeats the object, I know because I have done it myself. I recall reading an interview with Haraki San of Iron Heart which my friend Keat Chan did last year where Haraki said that he would prefer people to wear their clothes to their full potential (or words to that effect), he acknowledged that this presented him with a problem of selling things but wisely noted that perhaps the answer was to expand the market rather than to keep milking the same cow, this is key. I do not care about exclusivity, I think that everyone has the same right to own great jeans, jackets and shirts rather than a select few owning piles of them, this is my point and this why I will become a Denim Monk, no replication, no waste, no excess, use what you have and appreciate the privilege of doing so.

Image

What I hope to gain

What I hope to gain is a closer understanding and relationship with the things that I love, I intend to own them rather than them owning me and through this I hope to gain a greater understanding as to what makes them so great. I will have to maintain them or have them maintained, repaired and regularly cleaned if I am going to be using them seriously regularly, this will bring me closer to understanding the functionality of the design and understanding how to strengthen and improve stress points. Far from being down about the prospective lack of new purchases I am excited, I am elated to have this opportunity to increase my understanding and to use what I have as it was designed to be used.

Denim HQ – Get Paid Or Dye Trying – Part 3

Image

The quest to find myself paid employment in the Denim and Work Wear industry raises more questions to me than answers. The area of work which appeals the most to me promoting new business for brands trying to break into new markets, which means that what I must now do is attempt to find these brands and convince them that I am the man to help the to progress. For the next phase of the “Get Paid Or Dye Trying” project I will be researching companies, brands and material producers who may be in position to look to wider markets, contacting them and making the following offer.

Image

In order to prove myself worthy of working in this industry, to put into practice what I have learned and to use my existing knowledge and contacts to their full potential I would like to offer my services to any brand out there on a purely performance related pay basis. In other words I will actively work to expand your business, build your brand, and improve your profile in your chosen market or markets for no money until you are satisfied with my efforts and have seen benefit to your brand. All that I ask is that the company covers any agreed expenses incurred. I will put this offer into a covering letter/ email, identify some brands and companies, make contact with them and cross my fingers that someone out there will feel that their business is in a position to be built upon or diversified and recognises that I would add value to that.

Image

Speaking of adding value and the questions which arise from this endeavour, I have absolutely no idea what these kind of services usually cost. I am extremely confident in my ability to deliver a measurable and feasible result but I am unsure what to charge for it, being honest I am not a greedy person and my needs are few so if anything I think that to build a sustainable business and client base that my rates will probably undersell what I offer to potential patrons. I will give this issue more thought over the coming week.

Image

Another point which occurred to me in this last few days is that I could, and arguably should, work for myself. The HWDC has generated plenty of profit for investors and sponsors in the past, and absolutely nothing for me the inventor, which realistically tells me that I need to take ownership of the concept if and when I decide to progress it further after the current contest. The other option being that I simply sell the contest as it is for a brand or retailer to run as their own based on my existing model and formula, with the rights to use the current names, logos and accounts. I favour retaining ownership myself for the moment, the original HWDC concept was simply for all lovers of denim to be able to join in creating some incredible, multi brand, worn in denim and that must never change. I fear that selling it on would run the risk of ruining what makes it the biggest competition in denim, but on the other hand it might also give it the investment to realise its potential which I can’t. Much to think about.

Image

 

 

Denim HQ – Denim Influences Old And New

Image

I think that it is pretty much the general consensus in the denim scene that we all look to guys like Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando as kind of our aesthetic icons in a celebrity sense. In the movie “The Wild One” Brando had an image which has side become synonymous with the 1950’s anti fit, big cuffed style that so many love so much today (me included). McQueen took Greaser Chic to whole new levels without even trying, which carrying equal amounts of gravitas in blue jeans and a white tee as he did in a sharply cut suit. We know this, we see this, we acknowledge this, but what about more personal influences? Do you have an uncle who has totally badass faded work jeans? Is there a particular celebrity who always wears the greatest fitting jeans? Or is there anyone else who style, fades or choices have influenced your own?

Image

 Speaking personally, my influences like most peoples were cultural in my younger years, I wore old style skater baggy jeans through the early 90’s by UK brand Joe Bloggs, and after that I wore the loose, straight black Levis favoured by hip hop performers of the time. As time moved on and I got older my tastes and influences became more classic, and the discovery for me of the raw denim and work wear scene opened my up to a whole new sphere of influence, internet forums.

Image

Thanks to my involvement with the HWDC I have had a birds eye view for over three years on some of the most magnificent denim in the entire scene, and my peers in this scene have had the largest considerable sway on my choices through my prolonged exposure to their styles. This latest piece of gonzo is for me to give a swift shout out to a few of those whose approach to work wear I appreciate.

Eddie Lim

Image

Eddie is the real deal, he talks the talk and walks the walk. The chopper riding, denim slinging, silver tongued man from Manilla has been a stalwart of the denim scene for as long as I can remember. The vastness of his collection of denim is boundless, his custom resoled boots from Whites, Viberg and Wesco are some of the best you will see, and for a (and I’m sure Eddie won’t mind me saying this), larger dude, Eddie always looks effortlessly on point because he is a man who knows his own style.

Follow Eddie on Instagram @edieeelim

Beatle

Image

My old HWDC compatriot was one of the first connections I made in the denim scene, at which time she was already a well established and respected contributor. Beatle was the one introduced me to Iron Heart as people and as a brand by inviting me along to the 2011 summer party. Whatever she wears Beatle has an effortless style that is impossible to imitate as it is uniquely Beatle, her eye for detail is amongst the best around and she now shares this talent through her own brand, ByBeatle.

Follow Beatle on Instagram @ByBeatle

Giles Padmore

Image

Giles just wears clothes, he doesn’t spend much time waxing lyrical (especially for someone who heads international operations for a major denim label), he just puts on clothes and wears them, and therein lies his secret. As a man who has endless access to one of the largest collections in quality denim it would be easy for Giles to fly off the rails and wear a different pair of jeans every day, which is why I respect that Giles doesn’t do that. Once Giles selects a model of Iron Heart denim to wear it becomes a regular choice for him and he makes it his business to wear it hard, which is why the man known simply as “G” rocks some of the coolest vintage fades around.

Follow Giles on Instagram @IronHeartDenim

Farhad Samari

Image

Farhad one of the greatest masters of imagery in the whole denim scene, his client list includes Filson, The Flat Head, Red Wing, Self Edge, Rising Sun and Rogue Territory and the chances are that you will have seen his work in publications such as GQ, Mens File and Inventory Magazine. Add to this that Farhad also wears some of the coolest voltage fades around and you’ll see why this is a guy to take notice of, not to mention that most importantly he is a really nice guy.

Follow Farhad on Instagram @FARHADSAMARI

 

 

 

Denim HQ x NoKipple – What’s The Word On The Street?

Advertising is a dirty word; its modern implication implies subterfuge and agenda to covey a corporate message as we live in a time when it is common knowledge that Coca Cola changed the colour of Santa Claus and we are sold dream lifestyles by air brushed celebrities on cabbage water diets to maintain the body beautiful. It has not always been this way however and strangely advertising appears to be making a return to its original concept and principles by the newest of inventions, Social Media.

 Image

Never before have new brands and retailers had such easy access to such a large audience for so little costs, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow the conveyance of complex ideals and concepts in a very easy visual form to an almost captive market, such is the level of infiltration which social media has in modern society.

 Image

We at NoKipple are no different; we have had our Facebook page in operation since March of this year providing updates on our product selections, supplier visits and design collaborations. We have been sharing images of products, details and supplier insights via Instagram for a little over three months now, and we have seen from the response that people seem to genuinely like our direction and choices thus far. It has allowed us to interact with our potential customer base prior to launch on a level previously unavailable to brands and retailers and given us a real measure of what people do and do not like.

 Image

In a way I believe that this way of advertising and sharing is a more pure form than the glitz of images seen in glossy magazines, it is a no frills, honest approach in the way of what you see really is what you get, and you can interact with the retailer to feedback your thoughts and feelings in a very meaningful way. Don’t get me wrong, I love the magazines, and I will always be a sucker for well presented imagery, but this is something very different and very real.

 Image

The market for quality denim, work wear and accessories is characterised by having educated consumers, we all take a geek level interest in the things which enthuse us and force us to part with our hard earned cash, and because our consumer is so educated they can detect a fraud. In very few other markets will you find such a passion for both authenticity and innovation, conflicting as they are, whilst completely rejecting that or those which do not share this imperceptible feeling.

 Image

As a new retailer we have had to think extremely carefully about the message we send out, as we are not 100% sure on who will be receiving it and how they will interpret it. We chose to explore social media platforms first because they offer exactly what I have spoken of already, a large audience at zero cost. We will also go directly to our consumer base through the most popular and trusted forums whilst we look to establish our own means of total interaction between us the retailer, you the consumer and also the people behind the brands, but more on that much later.

 Image

In the future we will explore other avenues and methods of advertising, we are working with a couple of extremely talented photographers who could give us images of magazine quality for glitzy adverts, but for now we are happy to be interacting with our customers on a very personal level. This is how we establish rapport, this is how we learn what people want and expect from us, and this is how we are able to go directly to the people who will be interested in what we are doing. After all, as a wise man once said and an even wiser man quoted “If you want to hunt elephants, then you must go where the elephants are”.

Denim HQ – Summer Sucks

Image

The UK, my home country, has spent the last couple of weeks bathed in an unhealthy combination of ultra violet rays and sweat inducing heat, that awful time of year popularly known as summer. I know that it isn’t a popular sentiment, but as a resident of the UK and of confirmed Celtic lineage I am confident in declaring my loathing for the scorching days of the mid year. I am fair skinned so I burn, I am intolerant to sweating, but most importantly I absolutely hate not being able to wear my favourite shirts and jackets.

Image

The limiting factor which soaring mercury places on my wardrobe choices is a constant source of irritation to me. Some of my favourite clothes which I own are substantial shirts, hoodies and my beloved Trophy Clothing Reservoir Hood, which I would happily live in daily, whilst my lightest jeans weigh in at a not insubstantial 14.5oz. Please don’t misunderstand me, it isn’t that I’m not equip for summer, I have over 30 tee shirts which I like most of, I do own a few pairs of shorts and a couple of pairs of linen trousers which I actually don’t mind….but I prefer my jeans, shirts, hoodies and jackets.

Image

The clothing choices of others infuriate me in summer also, there is a particular affliction common to Northern Europe where the first sign of sunshine forces people into shorts and tee shirts, whereas a cloud in the sky forces some of these loons to dig out a large puffer jacket to wear WITH their shorts !! It takes me every ounce of self control that I can muster to not physically or verbally assault people who do this, I mean what goes through their heads when they put that coat on? “My top half will definitely be colder than my legs?”, “I’m sure that I saw the Backstreet Boys do this in 1994?” The whole look is designed to infuriate.

Image

I celebrated the summer solstice by putting on a thick flannel shirt and dreaming of what is to come in a few short months, the morning will get colder, the days will get shorter, and my wardrobe will go back to full use. All hail winter !

Image

Denim HQ -Exclusivity Breeds Contempt, But It Doesn’t have To.

Image

Why do we like nice things? Nice things make us feel good about ourselves and that includes our lovely expensive Japanese denim, but sometimes it makes us feel something else…something darker…something altogether human…..superior. I’m putting my hand up here and saying that I’m one of those people who looks at peoples jeans, checks out the label and has a smug internal grin to myself that they are wearing, what I am confident in telling myself are, inferior jeans !!! It is human nature to want to be better than others in some way or another, bigger house, faster car, more tattoos, better physique, anything which gives us the comfort of being better than others, and jeans are no different. This feeling isn’t healthy though, and by doing this are we not increasing the void between us and our denim wearing brothers and sisters? Should we not instead try to raise them up to our level of denim nirvana? Well, there are some options to set you on the path to indigo enlightenment which are not so exclusive.

Image

To make this clear I am not talking about price here, because much of the everyday denim I see which gets my distain is far from cheap. I am talking about good denim which happens to be readily available and not just from esoteric retailers with funky names and artistic pictures of bald, ginger men adorning their polished facades. I am talking about commonly available denim which though maybe not milled in the heartlands of Kojima is certainly of decent quality to wear and age well. Lets have a look at a few examples.

Image

Uniqlo Japanese Selvedge is a model which is released every year by Japanese retailer Uniqlo all over the world. It comes in regular dark denim, black denim and sometimes even washed denim and in straight and slim cuts. The denim is milled in Japan, weighs in at about 11oz and is of very reasonable quality for the price. In the UK they retail for between £55 and £60, which is cheaper than a pair of European made Levis 501 from department stores or the Levis shop (these sell for around £70 – £90). The Uniqlo Japanese selvedge is in my opinion the best readily available, relatively cheap, Japanese made jeans out there.

Image

GAP 69 Selvedge is the standard selvedge line which has been sold by GAP for the last 10 years. In Europe it is made using good quality ISKO denim from Turkey. They come in a variety of cuts and washes, not all of which are available in all stores and some are better than others. Nevertheless it is possible to find a decent pair of jeans in there for not a great deal of money if you fall lucky.

Image

Levis made and crafted range is available from most Levis stores throughout the world, in Europe it is again made using good quality Turkish ISKO denim, just like the later model LVC range of 501’s. Many of the jeans in this range are not selvedge, but are still a nice pair of jeans which will age and wear well. The prices here vary in the UK between £69 and £120 depending on the model.

Image

H&M Selvedge jeans are available in some of the larger stores in cities all over Europe, the denim in supplied by Denim International of Pakistan, which (believe it or not) is the worlds biggest producer of denim and is headquartered in a huge, modern facility on the outskirts of Karachi. The jeans are available in dark wash or light wash however a word of warning that the jeans are sewn in Bangladesh so their ethics are perhaps questionable.

Image

The point here I guess being that good jeans are available readily, and whilst the majority of them might not be hank, dyed, left hand twill or milled on a mystical mountain top using dragons teeth, they are still a decent pair of jeans. Like most things it is a matter of education and awareness, and yes taste. I will not sneer at denim such as those listed above, the smugness tends to be brought on by people I see wearing jeans made by one of the more traditional designers, knowing that these folks have paid an inordinate amount of money for something which has been produced cheaply and far from ethically. I would go so far as to say that my interest in denim and jeans makes me view the issue in this way, but the same can be said of any people who are knowingly being ripped off with high priced inferior products. In the age of the internet and the freedom of information that brings there is simply no excuse not to be educated before making a purchase, unless you simply don’t care.