Denim HQ – How To Lose Friends And Alienate People

2013-06-29 23.02.09

All is not rosy in my garden of denim and work wear, contrary to popular opinion I do not love everything about this scene, in fact there are certain things, brands and products which I go right against the grain on. There are commonly held opinions that I cannot help but disagree with and there are unwritten rules which I believe remain unwritten because they are utter rubbish. Allow me to elaborate on a few.

Red Wings

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I’ll start with a big one by taking aim at undoubtedly the biggest brand in footwear connected with the denim and work wear scene and I will nail my colours to the mast and state that I do not like them. They are common,mostly ugly, much more expensive than they were only a few years ago (in Europe at least), poorly constructed for their price point and I am simply bored of seeing them. As a brand I feel that they do not inspire any sort of emotive response, I don’t love them and I don’t hate them….they’re just a bit dull.

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I know that people will start calling me out on just about every point there and I simply do not care, for the money you pay for them I have no idea why a person wouldn’t just wait another couple of months and buy Wesco, Viberg, Nicks or White’s (before they get taken over by the Japanese version of the Quickiemart). Honestly, I have worn Red Wings extensively (Moc Toe boots and Gentlemen Travellers), and when I first tried on a pair of White’s Semi Dress I could have kicked myself about all the money I had spent on Red Wings, the difference in quality is vast.

Red-Wing-Heritage-Ice-Cutter-Boots

From the common place, overuse of the wedge sole to the characterless leather and sometimes obnoxious branding I am not a fan of this brand at all. I wish I was, in a way it would make things easier for me as I know so many people who love Red Wings that I would stop having to explain myself when they ask me if I like their boots. I will make exception for some of their engineer boots, which I genuinely like the look of, I’d still rather save an extra couple of months and buy a pair of Wesco Boos though.

Loop Wheel Does Not Mean Better

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This commonly accepted opinion that loop wheeled tee’s, sweatshirts and hoodies are the best needs to stop. Loop wheel is a construction technique which eliminates side seams, and that is all. I could make an equally compelling argument that a double stitched felled seam add much more strength to a potential stress area than a lack of one from a tube body construction. Sorry people, but I honestly believe that this is a case of loop wheel being adopted as a byword for awesome, and it can be, just not above everything else.

Work Wear Is Not Fashion, And Should Not Be Treated As Such

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There is perhaps nothing which annoys me more in the world of denim and workwear than seeing a photo shoot where a brand or a retailer have gathered together a bunch of super good looking people in an industrial/ rural location and taken pictures of these folks trying to look awesomely casual in thousands of dollars worth of Japanese made work wear. To me, this completely misses the point of the entire scene and smacks of the high fashion, low morals side of clothing.

MCCALMAN_CO_SAMARI-6

Take a look at the fit pics from Japanese retailers, or the work of photographers like Farhad Samari for Flathead, this is the kind of imagery which should be selling work wear in my opinion.

Wear, Don’t Store

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Probably my most famous unpopular sentiment, a drum which I have banged often in the past and one which I won’t ding into in detail again here. Simply put, I think that high priced, high quality denim should be worn rather than stored and to do otherwise is missing the point. I know many great folks who disagree with me on this, and it isn’t their fault that they are wrong ha ha.

 

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17 thoughts on “Denim HQ – How To Lose Friends And Alienate People”

  1. I have to bite on this one Gav. Redwings in Omaha, NE I have seen on sale for very cheap. Normal price I would say around $250. Worn mostly by farmers in my state. And where I’m from, THAT is considered expensive (unless your talking cowboy boots). I know this is a bit one sided, but where I’m from people still do wear workwear for work. Fashion is not even an after thought. Nobody is paying upwards $500 to $700 to walk around in beef poo all day in dandy boots. But people do want boots that they can wear for hunting, fishing, work, and everything in between. When you look at it from that perspective, Redwing definitely fits. They fit because they last (not necessarily comfort or style). The proof is in the second hand market and vintage boots you see all over the world. I stopped into several vintage shops in Paris earlier this year. One lady had at least ten pairs of redwings from the states. She explained to me how she got them all buying in bulk second hand from the states. Most were heavily worn, and some worn to shitz. All had life left in them and she was charging a premium for them too. I seen them many places in Asia for sell second hand via America. I use to sell them myself on ebay whenever I could find them. No matter the condition they always sold too.

    All that being said, These higher end brands do have a lot going for them. The construction with the cork soles which form to your feet…all the details, the amazing leather, and construction…I understand why the price gets high real quick. It’s difficult to compare the quality in that sense…a $250 boot to a $700 boot. There are a few great boots to be had at +$400. But at $250 and below typically you are just paying for a brand name and getting ripped off in the process. At least with Redwing you are going to get a boot that will keep your feet dry, and that will last you for many many years. That’s just the opinion of a Nebraskan for ya 🙂

    1. I totally get all that man, but in Europe we pay double what you pay, and now we have dealers of Wesco, White’s and Viberg I just don’t see how Red Wing can justify their price. Also, whichever way you come at it a pair of White’s Smokejumpers will outlast any Red Wings for not much more money and will look a damn sight better on your feet. Red Wing market themselves in Europe in that awkward niche of work wear fashion, so that is how I judge them…..and they are butt ugly.

  2. Holy hell no I would not pay $500 for a pair of redwings. Not for caterpillar or frye either for that matter. I guess import taxes are a mf? I’ve worn many Redwings, they are not comfortable boots IMO. I guess in a sense they are like the modern STF 501 of the boot world. The lowest common denominator of quality, comfort, and longevity. It’s basic American workwear. They are also quite plane to look at, but everything in the midwest is. For $500 I would be expecting a lot more for my money.

  3. I paid a little over £100 for my Red Wings a few years back in a sale in the UK. I’d wanted a pair for some time but refused to pay UK RRP or anything approaching that. There’s no getting away from the fact that they are ubiquitous within the denim scene , however, they offer something a little different from my usual boot choices – Alfred Sargent, William Lennon, etc (i.e. English footwear). They are less formal and the white crepe sole effectively transforms them (in my mind) to the boot equivalent of sturdy winter trainers. They are my boots for drinking, muddy walks, watching football and rugby, playing in the park with my kids – you name it – all without giving a t0ss what happens to them. They’ve replaced my ancient Blundstones in this respect. Unfortunately I’m far too anal to to hold any of my other boots in this similar (dis)regard, hence why I’ll always accommodate them in my wardrobe.

    I know they’re neither the best quality nor most original of footwear choices but they certainly have their niche as far as I’m concerned. I’ve found the official UK Red Wing resoler so my pair will be heading there at some stage so I can start the fun all over again!

    1. Yeh, I get all that and for the price I even agree with you (ugly as I think they are). However, not the price has gone up to ridiculous amounts I’d rather buy Thorogood for a similar experience at half the price.

  4. I have to remind myself how personal and subjective taste can be when the creator of those Whites boots featured on another article within this blog, considers Red Wings to be ugly! I like honest opinions though and it definitely makes the world a little more interesting.

  5. i hate RW and i do that on a empiric basis.

    had 2 pairs beckman, 1 pair of i rangers.
    each of them had the same issues.

    if got a dog and a quite active lifestyle.
    they couldn’t cope with the slightest amount of water
    (minimal rain or even wet grass).
    regardless with what they have been treated.

    all three pairs had a sole fuckup after only 10 month of wear in rotation!

    cheers,
    TAA

    1. I don;t hate Red Wings, I just think they are boring and mostly ugly, and for the price point in Europe I’d rather just save a bit longer and buy really good boots.

      Thats some bad going on three pairs of boots though man, I wouldn’t expect that from any reputable boot maker.

      1. that’s why i hate them.
        if one pair would have turned out bad
        i wouldn’t be so hart in statement, but three pairs,
        all the same issues, that’s quite bad.

      2. Yeh, that is far worse than average. Another point is that I think there are more interesting brands at a similar price point and level of quality, Wolverine and Thorogood for instance.

  6. I can tell the difference between Iron Heart loop wheel T’s and the earlier non loop wheel tees just by the material feel, there is a difference. Weather that difference is worth the extra money commanded by loop wheel is open to debate?

    1. I agree that there is a difference, I have one of each to hand now and I honestly prefer the older material. The Bluesville tee’s I have made with a pima cotton blend are the nicest fabric tee’s I own and they aren’t loop wheel either.

  7. Hallelujah Mega! The moc toe redwing are butt ugly!! I cant understand the fascination in them at all. I have a pair of redwing wabash leather, soft oiled leather (under £200 paid), comfy as hell and aging beautifully but have never understood the love the moc toe gets. Tastes are personal though…..
    Excellent comparison mentioning the thorogood boot, better looking well made and with equal if not better “heritage”. Also Wolverine are a great looking well made boot often overlooked. I have a pair of 1000 mile boots high on the wish list.
    Brilliant article. Well played sir.

    1. I keep hearing the justification that they’re really tough and last ages, but at the price they are asking that is simply not enough for me. I want them to be pretty and interesting too.

  8. Gav: re your last comment (above), it seems that many men seem to choose their wives on your latter criteria but ultimately (and perhaps unfortunately) they turn out to exhibit the former tendencies!

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