The vast expanses of actual space are now challenged by the limitless void of cyberspace. Some would argue that the internet has made mankind more insular and likely to spend time with his laptop, tablet or smart phone than with other humans whereas some would argue that the ease of communication and sharing of information which it affords has been mankind’s greatest achievement. For the niche of denim and work wear there can be no doubt that the internet plays a major role in the success and failure of any venture.
Increasingly brands and enthusiasts are learning about the exposure that they can get for their wares and endeavours through social media, forums and other internet based platforms. Mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow for an image or a message to be communicated on a massive level extremely quickly, whilst facilities such as tagging and sharing can send the “right” posts viral to an audience the size of which conventional advertising could not hope to match. The only limitation of using this method of spreading a message is that it is not particularly personal, and in our industry the personal touch is almost as valued as the product itself.
Central to this burgeoning realm of social interaction and information exchange is the forum, and maybe more than any other form of exposure the forum is a tool for driving whatever you set it up drive, be that products and services, social discourse or a community based around help and assistance of the members, by the members. The best forums manage to do all of this at once, and I want to take a few paragraphs to discuss the communities and forums with which I am best acquainted.
I started reading Superfuture after my first trip to Japan, and I joined a little time after. Like a good “newb” I resisted the urge to post straight away and instead I read every discussion that interested me. From this I discovered that SuFu, as it is affectionately known, had a great deal of Frat Boy humour spread through most of its sub forums, this is totally not my thing. Further research lead me to find that for some reason this most juvenile of pettiness did not extend to the Superdenim forum and so this is where I found myself most of the time. It was on Superdenim where I learned just about everything in those early days, I saw what people were wearing and how they were wearing it and I learned what was good, authentic and respected and I also learned what was bad, frowned upon and lacked soul. The Superdenim community is where I made my first real connections and friends in the denim community, it was here where I began the HWDC and most importantly it was here where I honed my own taste in denim and continue to do so to this very day.
From my friendship with Beatle, and the HWDC, I found myself at the Iron Heart summer party in 2011 and signed up for their online community slightly before that. The IHF (Iron Heart forum) is very different to Superdenim, it is brand focussed but the community there is close and discussion flows in directions not often seen in most online communities. It is the closest online experience I have had to having a chat with some mates in the local pub, and it has also taken me into actual pubs and having actual conversations with people I have met through the forum, in locations as diverse as New York, Tokyo, Jakarta and Birmingham. I have made real and genuine friends through the forum, had arguments that have actually pissed me off in real life and made me question how seriously I should be taking the internet and I have helped and been helped out by numerous people in all corners of the globe. It isn’t perfect, but it is unique in it’s ability to draw people together. The forum is welcoming, knowledgeable and is moderated discreetly and is the best place to go if you like to chat more broadly than just about denim.
Online communities are fantastic conduits for learning, networking, finding deals, giving and getting help and making genuine friends. Before posting it is always best to spend a few days reading the forum in question to get into step with the humour of the place and what is tolerated and acceptable along with what is not. My experiences have been far more positive than negative, and if you can take a step back from your keyboard every now and then to think about what you have just read (something that I sometimes struggle with), you will stay out of trouble and have a great time.