An interesting phenomena, which I have been uncomfortably labelled with myself on a few occasions, is that of the denim celebrity. Now, every social grouping, scene, niche, community, society, call it what you will, creates celebrities in one way or another, but to gain notoriety for wearing jeans is not something that any of us expected I don’t think.
This is a tough piece to write without sounding like a conceited douche bag, but honestly I am simply writing the facts of my experiences and views. I feel that I should categorically state that I personally feel that I have done nothing to gain any form of real kudos within the denim scene, and it was an extremely weird experience to be stood outside Self Edge in New York to have a young dude approach me and say “You don’t know me, but you’re Megatron from the internet aren’t you?”, my wife nearly passed out in shock that someone on the other side of the world recognised her scruffy, bald, Brit husband. I introduced myself to everyone else that day as “Megatron, from the internet”.
As general comment, I personally know quite a few “denim celebrities” in the real world and I have discussed this topic with them. I don’t know if it is something which many people are comfortable with, but it is a reality that in this industry personality helps to move products and in this way brand owners and retailers are amongst the first to gain luminary status. Arguably this is sort of deserved as these people are adding something tangible to the scene by providing product and access to customers, so in this way it is possibly an inevitability of their brand profile that they are elevated, but there are other forms of denim celebrity which seem even stranger.
Although I am now a denim retailer I was previously a part of this odd group of denim personalities, who had seemingly gained status within the community for doing not much else other than prolifically post pictures of themselves and their possessions on various forums and social media, thus gaining approval from the collective. Spend much time hanging around any forum and it will not take long to identify exactly who are the established and respected posters, and many of these guys do not even work in the clothing industry in any capacity.
As someone who until recently also did not work in any capacity within this niche, and observing and speaking to people who are in the same situation, I can tell you that until recently I found the experience quite uncomfortable, and whether I just accept it now or whether because I work in retail I feel slightly more at ease with it, I don’t know, but to gain kudos for doing nothing but wearing jeans and taking pictures is a very odd thing.
I have also been on the other side of this situation fairly regularly too, where I have found myself almost star struck to meet certain industry luminaries such as Haraki-San of Iron Heart and Nick Clements of Mens File. Such is my respect for what they do that conveying it without sounding like a complete idiot presents me with an insurmountable challenge in awkward behaviour, and believe me that I know fully how odd that sounds, but it is the truth.
I guess that in many ways denim society is just a microcosm of society in general, where people are elevated for their achievements or perceived status, and longevity in the scene counts for something too. Personally, I try not to take it too seriously and I usually approach it with a sense of confusion and awkwardness that is totally not me…..right up until the next time I meet someone who’s work so inspires me that I mumble like an idiot and sit in a corner somewhere.