Denim HQ – What I Talk About When I Am Talking About Denim


I have a confession to make. I don’t know what denim companies are talking about when they say things like “we use yarns 6, 9 and 13 to make our denim”, I have no idea what difference I should be looking for in right hand and left hand twill (I hear that they fade differently), and despite the amount of people who tell me that there is not much real difference between natural and synthetic indigo I still say that natural indigo looks brighter and is harder to fade.


The reason for this lack of knowledge is not that I am stupid, although it could be argued that I am, it’s not even that no-one has ever told me because they blatantly have (Giles Padmore made a series of posts on subjects like this on the IH Forum), it is simply that I don’t care. Being a fan of comic books I am well versed in the difference between a geek and a nerd, and I am definitely a geek. A denim geek loves the scene, loves how it looks and makes you feel, loves seeing the different denims and how they fade, enjoys different cuts and styles and in short is mainly interested in the earthly pleasures of the senses. How does it feel, how does it fade, how does it evolve, what cool details does it have? A denim nerd however obsesses not over how and what, rather their pleasure is what and why.


For me it is enough to know that a certain pair of jeans fades a certain way because I think it looks cool, for a denim nerd they have to know exactly why they fade in that way, it’s a level of detail above where my interest and excitement ends. To me, if you know how a magic trick is done then it ceases to be fun, and the continual evolution of denim is magic to me and I am happy to feel that, I do not want to see the illusion ruined by the technical data of the why and the how?


My work as a retailer has forced me further behind the curtain than I have ever been before, as I know that many customers really want to know why and not just what, so I learn in order to be able to explain, certainly not for my own pleasure. I figure that people might be disappointed if they asked me about a particular item and I simply responded with “buy this one, because it looks awesome”, but that is how I operate. I only have to love a something, I don’t have to question why I love it, the feelings outweigh the facts. However, I do have to appreciate that for many people spending a large chunk of change they do need to be reassured that they are doing the right thing, perfectly natural, so I learn the what and the how in order to reassure others that they are doing the right thing. The trade off being that my innocent, child like denim wonder diminishes with each new specification and fact I learn, an indigo dipped martyr to customer service ha ha.


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