It is an inevitability of life that as you grow older your tastes change, new experiences and influences coupled with the march of time mean that what you wear has to change. As a youngster my clothing choices were mainly influenced by the music which I listened to at the time, from the brief early 90’s revival of flares through the Manchester scene to the loose straight fit black Levis favoured by Public Enemy and the skate boarders of my late teen. Even as late in the game as my first forays into selvedge denim I was wearing loose skater jeans by Supreme and Levi’s collaborations with Japanese street wear label Fenom, with their distinctive and decidedly unsubtle lightning arcs. It is also worth noting that at the time I was also wearing Nike Air Jordan sneakers, and tee shirt adorned with impressively huge logo’s.
As I am now in my late thirties, such adornments and logo’s mean less and less to me. The focus has moved away from the brand and onto, what I consider to be, the more important things, such as materials, manufacture and fit. I think this process of maturing taste is hastened by being part of the denim scene, as tastes here tend to take an inevitable lean towards the timeless and the classic rather than the garish and fleeting. Recently I have pondered whether consumer faith in the brand is gradually being replaced by the requirement for empirical evidence of quality and design as part of a broadening of the educated consumer base. I believe that ,certainly in the denim and work wear market, customers do become educated very quickly. In part this is due to the nature of the product and also the kind of person who is drawn to this type of product and also it is due to the fact that being part of the denim scene encourages debate, interaction and shared experience, this education serves to mature tastes rapidly.
It is no co incidence that many of the gateway brands and products in the selvedge denim market feature many of the brand friendly references from the high street, they have logos and advertise in a way which will appeal to newer buyers to ease their transition into the high end denim market and therefore manage to capture a sizeable share of people becoming interested in denim. If you use the higher end brands as a reference you tend to see that they are built around a singular concept, usually defined by the tastes and influences of the brand owner, and the designs are kept much simpler around this central theme. This makes brand continuity much easier and engenders customer loyalty from those who buy into the concept as part of their lifestyle.
To summarise, I believe that customers in this market take a rapid path to becoming extremely discerning in their tastes, they make the journey from brand loyalty to concept convert in a relatively short space of time after discovering something which fits, or builds their self image. I know that many people will read this and believe that they simply wear the jeans that they like, this is true but to simplify it so much is doing yourself a disservice, you made a series of choices to wear the things you wear today and those choices are as much the result of your market education as they are influenced by taste. This is not a bad thing, I am proud to be part of a market which chooses to educate rather than deceive its customers, work wear was designed for honest, hard working people so to represent it in any other way would be to deny the appeal of that honesty.