Denim HQ – Albam Slim, A Thoroughly British Pair Of Jeans

A post by Connor

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Albam is a small clothing company based in England who try to create simple timeless pieces from high quality fabrics. Their apparel range includes suits, shirting and denim among other items. The company’s main focus appears to be outerwear, offering their take on many classic designs.

Although not specifically a producer of denim they seem to make a good pair of jeans. The jeans I have are no longer produced and has been replaced by their New Slim Jean which is slightly slimmer and has a greater taper.

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Other than that the fit the only other change they appear to have made is to the pocket bags and the way the hem has been stitched. The smaller plaid pocket bags have been replaced by a larger plain blue bag. This is a welcome change as the bags on my jeans are very short, barely long enough to accommodate my phone. The front pocket openings are also very narrow, making it difficult to access them. As for the hems, the newer pairs feature a chain stitched hem whereas this pair does not. Personally this is not a big deal even though I do like the roping effect caused by the chain stich.

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The fit is similar to a Levi’s 511. Slightly wider in the knee but very similar everywhere else. Sizing is different as I am usually a 32 and these are a 31.

The fabric is a 13oz Vintage Rope Dyed Indigo Japanese denim in a right hand twill with a red selvedge id. A good weight for spring/summer but I will probably wear something slightly heavier in the colder months.

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Some of the smaller details are where the jeans shine. Such as silver coloured buttons and rivets (all stamped with Albam England) compared to an aged looking top button with 3 stars and laurel wreath. The leather patch is the smallest I have encountered on jeans, being completely covered when worn with a belt.

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The jean’s construction appears to be very sturdy, no seams or stitches coming apart although there are a number of loose threads. The crotch is going to need repaired soon but this is my fault, not the jeans as I regularly cycle in them.

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Overall a good pair of jeans made in the UK with subtle branding, perfect if that’s what you’re into.

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Denim HQ – The Character Of A Denim Head

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I love the phrase Denim Head. I read a comment from a guy complaining about the phrase the other day whilst exclaiming that he preferred to be referred to as a “denim enthusiast”, which is fine we all use different terminology. The comment did set me wondering about the character of your average denim enthusiast (if there is such a thing), do we share common traits which bring us into this scene and keep us here? Is there such a thing as an archetypal jeans freak?

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This is something that I have never been too sure of, however I know others place great stock in it citing a combined set of interests which most of us share. It is true to say that if you observe most forum sub sections of general chat you will see a certain degree of commonality in the subjects being discussed, things such as music, movies, cars, bikes, books, beer and coffee, but honestly I think this is just what people talk about generally anyway isn’t it? I have many none denim obsessed friends with whom I have spent many an evening discussing these very subjects and not once receiving a compliment on my sharp combs, defined whiskers or the slubbiness of my weave….some people have no manners.

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If there is a universal quality of indigo junkies it is likely to be found in our purchasing habits. I would be willing to bet that the majority of us are attracted to goods and wares which we would think of as “artisan made” or “heritage” in some way. I would also hazard that the denim buying public have a higher than average appreciation of ethical supply chains and a more keenly defined sense of the level of quality they expect, but even this is perhaps in part a learned knowledge from being in the denim game rather than an existing quirk which brought us to denim.

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I believe that the only real quality that you can ascribe to the denim community is the willingness to go a step further in one way or another. Whether that step is simply to pay a little more for our jeans than most people would consider normal, or to engage in a community based around our passion, or something further such as travelling the world to meet up with those with whom we share a common interest it all displays our willingness to take things to the next level. From the people I have met and befriended in this scene I know that they are the kind of folks who are not afraid to go the extra yard to get exactly what they want, and that is the essence of a denim head.

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Denim HQ – The Eco System

Brand Ecosystem – A Primer

A piece by Jon (jonathan@nokipple.com)

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Introduction

Firstly, it should be acknowledged that the sheer variety and scope of the online environments that can support an ecommerce and/or blog/fan audience engagement can be daunting and overwhelming. This is where the first rule applies:

Do stuff every day.

I can’t emphasise this enough, it doesn’t have to be a lengthy or extensive task – just keep your hand in – artificially backfilling content is incredibly laborious and soul destroying (and feels fake).

Secondly, this is an exercise in blended activities. Some social media mechanisms are ideal for some activities and useless for others – example: Twitter is an excellent tool for demonstrating your personality (this can be your “brand’s” personality, your own, or a mixture of both). Despite it being fairly one-way – mostly you are just broadcasting (I appreciate that the personal Twitter experience can be very different, and create discussion) but at the start you are going to be tweeting into the abyss with only minimal conversation. This is fine, you’re building the long game – you’re conditioning the market with your characteristics and preference. We are all hard wired to engage better with people that have similar tastes – if you give (genuinely) a little of yourself, you will build credibility as a “real” person/entity. So, the second rule:

Convey real human qualities.

Thirdly, timing is important, example: from simple trend analysis – posts to social media tend to fare better when sent on a Tuesday or a Saturday. Here though I am primarily talking about how quickly you respond to a trigger. A trigger could be someone re-tweeting your tweet, or it could be someone posting a review of one of your products (or product types) on a forum, or on Instagram. It might a press release about a new product/product trend that you had a particular view about (e.g.: skinny cuts, crepe soles, beards etc.). At a very fundamental level it is about replying to communications quickly – people have become accustomed to a wait time in replying to emails – why should they? You should reply within the hour if feasible, quicker if possible – it’s one of the simplest ways to gain instant credibility. So, third rule:

If someone mentions you, emails you, whatever – be quick to reply.

Fourthly, and this relates to personality – don’t use bland commercial words and phrases, be courteous but pepper your communications with intelligent (but brief!) and relevant observations, example: you see their country code TLD (the bit after their domain in their email address), you might express some local knowledge or use a local language greeting (Bonjour etc.). Careful, don’t slip into cheesiness – no walls of text – answer their damn question first and foremost; and ask a question back that relates to their interests (if they’ve asked about a jeans, ask them about their jacket rotation). So, fourth rule:

Be interesting. Don’t be a bland plastic face.

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The Ecosystem

What is the ecosystem? It’s a bit of a hackneyed term but it conveys what you are trying to achieve here – a cross-system/cross platform engagement with audiences and potential audiences. Omnichannel retailing is the most recent buzzword being used in this context – the process of providing a consistent and persistent retail experience for the audience, as they move from online to store, to their mobile, to their tablet, to their experience with your collateral (lookbooks, brochures etc.). This is closely aligned with brand consistency as well – you don’t want the audience to have a jarring experience in one environment when they have just had a great experience in another. When omnichannel retailing is fully explored you can expect to have a very closely linked environment that tracks the customer across all platforms – example: Hertz may monitor Twitter traffic for mentions about their brand – they could respond (extremely quickly) to negative trending – if a customer has tweeted about a sub-standard experience with a car hire that customer could receive a promotional offer in near-realtime (via a tweet).

However, true omnichannel engagement is a costly and lengthy process – initially you will be building an awareness and comfort with widely used social media environments, whilst also exploring how you can develop presence in market/industry enthusiast specific places.

In this section I am going to talk about three core components of this initial familiarisation process/activity:

  • Personality
  • Depth of content
  • Audience input

Deploying these three components, in conjunction with some simple (but disciplined) usage of social media will result in a genuinely compelling online content and presence, and will equip you to widen your cross-platform market engagement without slipping into knee-jerk, bland sales/marketing speak.

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Personality

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This may not mean your own personality (but I think that is inevitable), but you need to think about how you will formulate Facebook posts, your Pinterest tastes, your Twitter output, your Instagram activity, etc. Output can’t all be “buy this thing, it’s pretty”; high end apparel and gear purchases (for the most part, for normal mortals) will be hyper considered and pondered over; I’ve met enough clothing/denim enthusiasts in my time to know this…You need to bridge the hesitancy gap and help them make that capital purchase or build a logical (sometimes not!) rationale for acquiring something. Common ground and simple relationship building can go a long way here – this is what personality can be used for.

Example usage: You’re running your Twitter account. You don’t want to send 10 consecutive tweets of a product with its link to your site (well, you kind of do because the analytics traffic will make it feel like you did something useful). Rather instead, have a simple rule to follow:

3 tweets a day, one of them is a product + link, one of them is a link to something that demonstrates your deep industry/scene knowledge, one of them is a tiny glimpse into your life (don’t take pictures of your food though unless you have really made a culinary effort), perhaps you made a cocktail and you share the recipe, maybe you went somewhere interesting. More about Twitter later…

We can’t really talk about the personality of a company or an online presence without touching on brand. What underpins it? What are its values? What promise does it make to your customers, fan base or audience? Simple, compelling qualities that are very re-usable will be useful when presenting your brand in web environments.

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Personality across the channels

Different channels need some different treatments. Examples:

o   Don’t use filters on Instagram (they trend better than those with filters)

o   Always think pictures – images are gold, but Facebook is more forgiving, use a casual selection of pics when making a Facebook album, and save the really tasty ones for Twitter and the website

o   Try not to recycle pictures that you use for product listings, have a different collection for social media presentation

Niche high end products have a natural fit in the enthusiast forum spaces – what are the natural contenders for where you might engage people? Are you accustomed to spending time in these places already? Are you optimised for online engagement in general – are you willing to give a little of yourself?

Video presentation – highly detailed/well-crafted products a natural fit for a well-produced video (read: DIY); as long as you have good footage you can have quick and credible results with simple tools like Movie Maker.

Consider that you will probably need to be visible in your social media engagement, i.e.: people will see your face, your tastes, and a narrow glimpse of your actual life. Think about how comfortable you will be with this.

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Depth of Content

Content variety and depth relates profoundly to personality, audience input and multi-channel presence (i.e.: content on lots of different formats) – I am sure you can tell that all these disciplines are linked, as are the different channels you will use.

As browsers of your brand or presence explore your website and online presence they will want (need) variety and depth. Let’s talk about depth first – niche gear and clothing lend themselves to extensive discussion (well, duh…)

Example: I want to buy some selvedge jeans. I can buy them in many places – high street (Uniqlo, G-Star, kickstarter ventures, online stores stocking niche brands from Japan, via a proxy, the secondary market etc, etc.) – why do I choose you? Pictures are important certainly but I want to hear “story”, I’m not talking about the product description; I want to see a link to a blog post you have personally written about how you sourced a niche pair jeans from a little known retailer, you had an interesting and genuinely interesting discussion with the vendor, maybe you found the real Gabriel Hounds in a back street in Amsterdam, maybe you met a one man band making jeans out of his basement with a vintage Union and OCD level obsession.

Audiences want validation – they will seek confirmation of their forthcoming purchases and enthusiasms from many places, and they will gain that validation from the wider community – forum reviews, specialist review sites, peer approval, etc. For high ticket products we can also assume a longer process of validation.

You will have relatively little control of customer generated review content (well you do in some respects – if they had a really great interaction with you then this will have obvious ripple benefits). What we will mainly talk about to begin with is the depth of content you generate yourself. You have, even to begin with, a number of platforms:

  • Your website
  • A blog on your website
  • Your Facebook page
  • Your Twitter account(s)
  • Your Instagram account
  • Your Pinterest
  • Your Reddit presence
  • ++++

All of these platforms have different “tones”; your website (if you are a retailer or similar) will have the product listings, relatively “dry” content that describes the product and provides images, obviously this is essential but this platform offers relatively little opportunity to inject personality; your blog is slightly different, posts here will be informal and varied (video, images, links to external sources); Twitter – this allows short, pithy comments and observations – good for personality but not huge depth; your Facebook page – a good place for depth, informality and many images. You get the point – you’re going to have to maintain a number of different sets of content and keep them fresh and updated often – stale, ghost town social media environments are very easily identified as such. BUT, your content can’t be random and arbitrary, obviously the multi-platforms allow for personality but the product content is the primary focus – but from different angles and perspectives. Example: You feature a new N-1 Deck variant on your website:

  • You list the jacket on the website
  • You blog about your exhaustive decision making process for why you selected this jacket
  • You tweet a WAYWT selfie while drinking a Sazerac at Nightjar
  • You tweet a lengthy review of the jacket
  • You swamp your Instagram account with tasty pictures (product and lifestyle) with well researched hashtags (and no filters!)
  • You post on Facebook and ask for feedback from existing owners

This is just an example, but the overall point here is to make your products be alive, rich with content and detail, relevant and seemingly essential to the people that visit your website and other online environments.

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Audience Engagement and Audience Content

This relates strongly to previous concepts (personality and depth of content). Real world, compelling, user generated content is gold – it’s free (mostly) and it adds a variety to your ecosystem that simply cannot be achieved on your own. It validates new purchases and endorses your innate good tastes.

This type of content is general organic, I’m not talking particularly about website product reviews that accompany the product listing, these are fine and you should do them but I talking about the longer, deeper pieces of content that audiences could produce because they genuinely want to talk about their experiences with you and your products. In a corporate context these would take the form for case studies but these doesn’t represent what you should aim for here. Community building should be a goal for you – initially this can be audience submitted reviews (with non-staged pictures), Facebook interactions, an interview with an audience on your blog. Longer term you could consider:

  • Audience meet-ups and open days
  • Industry event attendance
  • A pop-up with some loyal, long term fellow enthusiast drinking booze with you.
  • A forum environment that is run by your audience(s)

Audience engagement of this type of non-trivial and hard to do so that it remains natural and unforced (and of course you have to take the rough with the smooth, audience’s will not always be accommodating in the way you want). In the near term you should focus on the basic disciplines of online/social media engagement.

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Responding and Acting

So, you’ve gone live, the site looks amazing – what now? Hopefully you will have laid the ground already for your social media environments. The Facebook page will well populated with varied content and you already have plenty of likes. Similarly, the Twitter account will be running and you’ve picked up some followers.

This section is about analysing and responding to engagement with your social media spaces and presence. For most people this will be about Google Analytics and other (more basic analytics tools that are included with ecommerce platforms). This primer is far too brief to even touch specifically on elements of these analytics tools and how to use them; rather I wanted to give an overview of the ways and varied tools that are available (paid and free) that you can use to analyse activity and then respond to it. However, I should emphasise, a good (basic) grounding in Google Analytics will put you in good stead for other activities.

Google Analytics and related tools

You should have Google Analytics open in a tab all the time, don’t obsess about it but learn what it does. A simple example of utilising traffic analysis – you have a newsletter, when do you send it? General stats can give you some idea but you may find that your audience are heavily weighted to South East England do not start to browse until late evening, this may be a good time to send a mid-week email.

Google Adwords – this is another non-trivial tool that you will need to use carefully. Poorly thought out usage will see your daily budget sucked away for no discernable benefit. DO NOT use Adwords unless you have gained a decent amount of analytics experience or get a pro to do it for you. Adwords can be augmented with remarketing tools such as Adroll (http://www.adroll.com/).

Google Trends is an interesting tool that won’t be a mainstay but could help validate your choices and focuses.

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Google Global Market Finder is a lesser known Google tool but one you may find valuable – I have to assume you have an international audience. http://translate.google.com/globalmarketfinder/g/index.html

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Social Media and Commerce Tools

Responding to social media input and triggers will be a combination of manual responses, customised to the specific trigger and automated tools that you set up to respond.

A simple example of manual response – someone follows you on Twitter, you check their profile, they are not a business and they look like a person that shares your interests or have interests in your products. You follow them back, you send them a direct message to say hi, not with a generic message but one tailored to their apparent tastes; perhaps you glean some relevant info from their twitter output. You strike up a correspondence, perhaps you send them a PDF/images of the new product you have in – an “exclusive” access, and maybe you send them an intro discount code.

Two great Twitter tools:

  • Hoot Suite https://hootsuite.com – this is an expanded dashboard that allows you manage Twitter activity much more closely and also automate the sending of pre-written tweets.
  • Just Unfollow – https://www.justunfollow.com – this allows you to track people who have unfollowed you, and also search for new followers by geographic region (amongst other things).

Abandoned carts – a simple example of automated response to triggers. “Abandoned carts” are “nearly” purchase that have not completed sale. You can view these abandonments and then email the would-be purchaser, using a link that takes them back to the pre-filled cart.

Email campaigns – this is not just the periodic newsletter that you send out this, these are emails that are sent out at multiple touch points with the audience: at first sign-up, at order despatch, a wish-list reminder email. Automated campaigns can be augmented with ad hoc, manual emails to audiences and customers – you never know where the conversation will go.

Product reviews – you can dedicate a gallery page for this purpose or have product reviews embedded in the product listing page. Customer generated content – this is one of your primary objectives.

Facebook has the highest conversion rate for all social media ecommerce traffic at 1.85% – setup a Facebook store that embeds directly into your FB page. You should also consider paid promotion on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/advertising.

This is just the tiniest sample of tools and processes you can use, I just wanted to convey the variety and power available. Again, it will come down to resources and time when selecting the best approach for you.

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Denim HQ – Gaps In The Market

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Choice is something which we don’t lack in the denim and work wear scene, there are brands making jeans, jackets, shirts, boots, tees, work pants, belts, wallets and vests for any and all taste and even almost every budget these days, the market looks pretty well stacked and has lead to people wondering where it can go next? Are there any gaps left for innovators who offer something complimentary but different? I believe that there is, and some of those gaps are being filled right now.

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A particular market which is not being fully exploited, and one which I have particular interest in as a parent, is children’s denim and work wear. Now, I know that there is possibly not the money is children’s wear that there is in clothing for adults, and I know that while the manufacturing/ sewing line is working on kids jeans that they are not working on higher ticket, higher priced adult jeans, but there is still opportunity here. Many of the older denim enthusiasts are now parents, not just parents but parents with spare income to spend on denim and I have no doubt that many of these parents would like to buy some high quality denim, boots and jackets for their kids.

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Over in Holland Guido Kerssens is one of the first to explore the potential of this space in the market with his children’s selvedge denim line Oyuki. Guido has realised that most children need freedom of movement in their clothing due to their active life styles and has opted to make Oyuki jeans from a blended denim for added stretch, whilst retaining the colour and fade qualities which us denim heads value so much. The denim is supplied by renowned Turkish denim mill Isko and the brand name is contrition of Guidos daughter and wife’s names, it is also happily the name of a popular Japanese fairy tale. Oyuki jeans feature a ton of details which normally we are pleased to see on adult jeans, and at a price point of under $150 they are pretty competitive. For my own part I know that my son has asked Giles and Haraki of Iron Heart about making children’s jeans a staple of their range, and knowing Tommy he won’t stop asking until either they relent, or he is wearing adult sized jeans anyway.

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Another area of potential in the market can be found in Japanese designed, European/American/ Asian made clothing. For a long time it has tended to go the other way, with designs dreamt up all over the world making their way to Japan to be assembled, slowly however things look like changing. customer demand for Japanese products is high, they have an eye for design and quality which suits the quality clothing market perfectly, but market forces and the world economy still find it difficult to buy Japanese made products on a large scale due to the high wholesale unit costs, so what if the products were designed in Japan but made elsewhere to Japanese quality standards?

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A company who I am currently talking to (CAB Clothing) does exactly this. They are a basics brand making plain tee’s, hoodies, sweatshirts, flannel and chambray shirts, all of which are designed in Japan, all of which are manufactured in China (to ethical standards from locally sourced materials), and all of which are then sent back to Japan for quality checking. Not surprisingly the unit costs, even accounting for import and export, are much cheaper than carrying out the entire operation in Japan. This model allows CAB to pass a decent portion of that saving onto their retailer and customer resulting in a far more palatable price point for people looking for Japanese designed and quality assured basics, think of it as taking the Uniqlo model a step further.

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There are quite a few more market gaps which could be further developed by the right brand or product and this is a subject which occupies a more than healthy percentage of my time. If you think of any unspoilt territory and feel like sharing your idea, drop it in the comments box bel

Denim HQ – Sub Division Part 1 – Motorcycle Wear

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The denim and work wear scene is an umbrella term for a wide and varied range of styles and garments, a niche within a niche, where brands tend to build around a certain style or concept to suit their chosen theme. The same can be said for consumers who have a consistent self image based around the items and styles which they favour. In this series of articles I want to look at the various sub divisions of the denim and work wear scene, examine the concepts in relation to how they effect design and functionality of the garments and discuss some of the exponent brands in each niche. I have purposely chosen motorcycle wear for the first in this series as it is the concept most familiar to me through my work with both Trophy Clothing and Iron Heart. On the surface of things both of these brands seem to share a similar theme, heavily influenced by the respective owners love of motorcycles, but a quick look below the surface will reveal key differences between both companies style.

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Firstly it would be remiss of me not to say that I am not a biker, I have owned a motorcycle and it was an American style bike with the classic look of the Harley Davidson, but it flattered to deceive as it was made in Korea and had an engine more in common with a lawn mower than a ground shaking muscle bike from Milwaukee. I loved Harleys and the idea of being a biker so much that I had my HD tattoo done when I was 24, just after I bought the bike, but sadly just a year later my dream was crushed when my wife demanded that I sell the bike in favour of furniture for our newly purchased marital home, I guess she figured that a couch was more important than a bike..not sure I agree.

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It was undoubtedly this biker style which first drew me to Iron Heart as a brand, and no coincidence that the owner, Shinichi Haraki, is a Harley riding biker who loves motorcycles just as much as he does denim. Haraki designs Iron Heart clothing with bikers in mind, this is evident in a number of design features across the whole range from jeans to shirts and jackets. The thing for which Iron Heart is most famed is its super tough, super durable heavyweight denim which serves as fantastic protection for bikers who are unfortunate enough to take a spill on the tarmac, other features which are decidedly biker oriented are the sleeve and body length of many Iron Heart shirts which are designed with a little extra length to be worn in the riding position and the bi-swing shoulder of the denim rider jacket for ease of movement when riding. It is not only in design where Haraki San considers the needs of his core customer base, there is tendency in many (not all) of the Iron Heart garments to use wind resistant materials, again for the comfort of the rider. Haraki is favours Harleys, his bikes are big, loud and made for distance riding in comfort, the epitome of American nomadic biker heritage.

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Not all American bikes come from Milwaukee, Indian bikes come from Massachusetts and are an entirely different animal and one favoured by Trophy Clothing owner Masaki Egawa. Egawa San rides a vintage Indian Scout, and where the Harley is comfortable, dependable and tough, the Indian is precise, ornate almost and has an entirely different feel. Just as Haraki filters the passion for his bike into his designs, so does Egawa and where Iron Heart is tough and almost utilitarian, Trophy is specific, exact and meticulously detailed with an appeal which is perhaps much narrower in scope than the rugged and modern Iron Heart. In a sense they appear to be biker inspired clothing from different periods in time, and it is clear that Trophy draw much more on vintage influences than Iron Heart, who themselves have created a repeatable range of classics mixed with some experimental new denims and interpretations of classic pieces. Trophy look for details to differentiate, such as the floating pocket on shirts which was originally designed so that a mechanic could lean over an engine without losing the contents of his shirt pocket, to my knowledge nobody else does this.

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The motorcycle element of the denim and work wear scene is the prime example of finding difference in similarity, and these are not the only two brands influenced by motorcycle culture. There is a part of the Samurai Jeans line up which is influenced by more modern Japanese motorcycles, whereas brands such as Sugarcane have produced parkas favoured by the mod scooter craze of the 1950’s. The variances in one particular style, some subtle and some not so, are part of what makes the quality denim and work wear scene so intriguing and this is just one particular facet with more still to come.

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Denim HQ – Maturing Tastes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Denim HQ – Small Brand? No Promotion? Want To Expand? I’m Here To Help

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If I were to be asked my opinion about who makes the best jeans, boots, jackets, shirts, bags or any other item in the market I could happily spend hours reeling off brands, and my opinions on their wares but the chances are that I would probably be wrong. It troubles me that there are, in all likelihood, people and brands out there making items on fantastic quality and innovative design that I have probably never heard of because they are either made in a country where the market chooses not to look, or through lack of finance or proper promotion may struggle to stand out from the crowd. It was this thought which became a core concept to NoKipple, we were to fight the corner of the smaller brand and take their amazing products to the global stage which we have done with varying degrees of success and support. The reality however is that a retailer cannot support or work with as many brands as they would like to for reasons of time, space and most importantly money, you simply cannot afford to carry stock from so many unknown brands without the safety of knowledge that you will sell at least a portion of it. The larger and better known brands do offer a certain amount of security from the point of view that there is empirical evidence of a customer base who will support the brands retailers. So if the brands struggle to get global retail support, cannot stand out from the crowd due to lack of promotion and are perhaps based in countries or areas not commonly associated with high end denim and work wear production how can they succeed? Let’s find out.

TRMEETSNK

This thought found its way back into my head via a comment I read on social media about the struggle against pirated denim ( which I have found myself embroiled in recently), the gist of the comment was that for many consumers the brand was more important than the product, i.e. it was seen as better to wear fake Iron Heart jeans than original jeans by a local brand. This is a thoroughly superficial concept to me but in some cultures the status of the brand is the most important factor for consumers which, to my mind, goes against the entire point of being a denim head where the joy is to be found in the denim, the details, the cut and the wear….none of which can be found in fake jeans. The point of this being that if even fake high end jeans are seen as more prestigious than original jeans designed and crafted by local brands, then what chance do these brands have in becoming successful in their own country, never mind internationally?

TRDENJKT

Now it might sound crazy but I want to help. I want to let the world know about these hidden treasures from anywhere in the world and promote them through honest feedback and experience. I am a retailer and I know many more retailers, so if you believe that your product is good enough, you have an ethical supply chain and manufacture and you have the infrastructure to meet a demand then I am going to ask you to have some faith in your product and trust me to help you. Here is what I am going to ask you to do….

* Send me a sample of your best product.
* I will review your product honestly (so it had better be good) on DHQ.
* If your product is as good as you think it is then I will help you to promote it through social media and forums.
* If your product is not as good as you think it is then I will offer you constructive ideas to improve for the global market.
* If your product is super great I will talk to retailers on your behalf, send them your sample, and see if I can generate some interest for you.
* If your product is super great and you enjoy collaborative work then I might even be able to retail your stuff myself through NoKipple.

JL55DEN

And here is the killer part, I will do this for free, all it will cost you is a sample product to get the ball rolling, I don’t care if it is jeans, shirts, leather goods, boots or whatever else you make. If it is good I will help you, if it isn’t then I will give you my honest opinion for improvement. If you have any questions please get in touch (megatron@nokipple.com).