So where to begin, how do you go about finding paid work in an industry where your work thus far has been pro bono? What is it I actually want to do? Where do my talents lay? What to do first? Well, firstly I should give serious consideration to what I have done so far, what has worked out well and what did I enjoy doing?
Without doubt my biggest personal success is the Heavyweight Denim Contest, it’s the worlds biggest denim contest and I created it and organised the vast majority of it single handed, not only as a contest but as a promotional tool for the denim industry it has plenty of untapped potential, I would definitely say that organisation and promotion are strengths for me. The work I have most enjoyed is the promoting ideas, brands, products and ideas, I love nothing more than having something that I really believe in and being able to share my enthusiasm for it with the world, so I think helping to grow business, products and ideas into previously unfamiliar markets is definitely something I can excel at. It’s something that I already do with quite a degree of success.
To illustrate this I would like to point to my involvement with Trophy Clothing. It was November 2012 when I was looking through the “Unknown Japanese Brands” thread on Superfuture, basically looking for something to inspire me, something new. Every time I came across a brand name that I was unfamiliar with I took a look at their website, on the third or fourth search I found Trophy and something completely inspiring. Their denim and outerwear in particular struck me as something so refreshingly different and cool that I struggled to believe that people in the Western market weren’t clamouring for it, but they didn’t know about it. Trophy were the first brand on the list when NoKipple was first formed, I literally harassed Masaki Egawa with email after email, I bought shirts and jeans and eventually he relented to what I hope was my clear and passionate love for his brand, but was more likely my crazy British persistence. Trophy are now well on their way to being a very well established brand in the Western market and they have their own feature in the latest issue of Men’s File for the first ever time.
Not that I want to claim sole responsibility for the introduction of Trophy to the world outside of Japan. I didn’t finance bringing the clothing here and I did not provide the web platform for the gear to be sold, what I did do was sing the praises of this amazing brand to anyone who would listen until my NoKipple partner Jon listened, then I took to the forums and social media to espouse the virtues of the brand and its specific items and I beat that drum black and blue until people took notice. I visited Trophy with Jon, I organised denim tours, I wrote countless articles, I started forum threads, I took picture after picture of materials, details, hardware and hundreds of fit pics, I think that over the last year and a bit I have probably produced more pictures of Trophy Clothing than Trophy have themselves.
That was the process, it continues to be the process as there is so much more growth out there for Trophy and the other NoKipple brands that it never stops, the drum is still beaten regularly and slowly but surely we are getting acceptance into the market, and I have loved doing it. This is the kind of work I want to find for myself, whether it is working with brands, specific products, or concepts and ideas I believe my strength lays in bringing something new to the table and getting people to nod approvingly, acknowledging that what I am showing them is good, genuine and worthy of their attention and custom, plus nothing gives me more satisfaction than when something that deserves more attention actually gets it.
Something else appealing to me is breaking down a few prejudices which still exist in this industry about where things can be made, and that just because something is made elsewhere than Japan or the United States it is not necessarily poor quality. I have seen with my own eyes some amazing items being ethically and skillfully produced in Indonesia, indeed I have worked to promote some of these brands and their wares in our market already. Whilst the more I see of Chinese brands such as Red Cloud the more impressed that I am, as a growing market China cannot be bettered so it makes sense that there should be domestic brands rising to meet domestic and international demand which might require some asistance, who perhaps have a decent home market share but lack promotion and awareness outside of their own borders, working with brands like this appeals a great deal. Not just with completed items but with materials also, recently I have had a look at ISKO denim from Turkey and been really impressed with the the quality of their premium lines, so if I could find employment with an ethical materials producer who would like to change the way that certain markets view their wares then this would also interest me.
I have updated my LinkedIn profile to give details of my skills and experience (see below) and I have begun looking at how best to use LinkedIn as a resource for finding work. Next up I shall take a look at the kind of brands, products, materials and concepts I would like to help promote, and see if there are any opportunities to do exactly that.