I lead two distinctly different lives, in one I work as a supervisor for a military electronics company on a basic 40 hour week, take my son to football practice and play darts with my friend who lives a couple of streets away in his man cave. In another life I live and breathe denim, leather and well made, vintage inspired work wear of all descriptions, I write about it, talk about and most frequently I engage in discussion related to it via social media and online forums.
It is on these forums that I have spent much of my time for the last 4 or 5 years, it is here that I have launched competitions and debated endlessly over the finer nuances of expensively assembled items and their ownership and purpose, some curate and some abuse. To refine this even further, I have spent much of my time in one particular online environment and my past weekend activities and encounters have brought this particular community to the forefront of my thoughts, this community is of course the Iron Heart forum.
I use the word community rather than forum as I feel that there is a distinct difference, forums are places of discussion and information exchange whereas a community is a place where people actually know each other on a more personal level, actual friends. I have been posting on forums for many, many years, sports forums, movie forums, music forums and in recent years almost exclusively denim forums. My experience of internet forums, particularly product based forums, is that they tend to become dominated by people who want to show off their things, their knowledge, their lives and their opinions but do not invite interaction and instantly react with hostility to anyone who does not fit into their box, this has a limited life span of interest for most, and these forums are not always the most welcoming of places leading to transience of virtually the whole posting membership.
What brought this particular subject to mind today was that I was thinking about the guys I had met up with over the last weekend, some of whom I haven’t seen for a year, some of whom I hadn’t seen for three years and some of whom I had never met before but all of us united by one brand and one community. Friendships long dormant were picked up as if we had been apart for just a week, new friendships were quickly forged by common interest, chat and the super relaxed atmosphere and it struck me that what I was seeing was a real life version of the Iron Heart Forum environment.
Speaking as someone who spends far too much time on the internet I can say with all honesty that the Iron Heart forum is the most relaxed and open denim community of the internet. The “show off” style of post is extremely minimal, there is no elitism and the relaxed, social side makes it a very welcome place to be. My own experiences have yielded friendships as strong as those in my real life with people who have helped me out and who I have helped out, folks I have travelled half the width of the world to hang out with and regularly speak to about subjects totally unrelated to denim and clothing. Social events like the one I attended at the weekend are, in my opinion, so important to the denim scene to keep this community feeling alive and well, and over on the Iron Heart forum I think that we are lucky enough to have the best social events and best event organisers in the form of the IHUK team.
If you’re reading this, you love denim and you like to be made to feel welcome in an environment of open discussion then you should sign up over on the IHF, discussion of other brands is welcome and you just might meet a group of people who will bring as much to your life as they have to mine.