Most of us in the denim scene share so many aesthetic traits that we look very, very similar. This thought first arrived to me on an unseasonably warm October night, down in a New York subway station after the Self Edge x Iron Heart party in 2012. I was stood on the platform with a large group of similarly clad denim enthusiasts ready to venture out into the night of the Big Apple in our exclusive Japanese denim, flannels, vests and super tough American made work boots….we looked like some kind of bizarre gang, and I was put in mind of the movie “The Warriors”.
There is no doubt that the denim scene has a “look”. Browse any WAYWT thread on any denim-centric forum and you will see individuals from all over the globe who could possibly do a closet swap without too much difference to their appearance. There are standard items which mark you out as a scene member and it is only when you go below the surface that you see the variations within what is, on first inspection, a fairly narrow niche. Breaking down the things which 99.9% of us would consider as essential into a list you have a fairly small selection of items.
Selvedge denim jeans, sometimes raw
Work boots or vintage styled sneakers such as Converse
Flannel shirts and denim shirts
Vintage styled denim or leather jackets
These are the things which we consider to be standard uniform, the building blocks of the denim enthusiasts wardrobe, arguably almost everything else after these items is simply decoration, but it is in the decoration where we find our differences, our individuality and refine our taste.
Consider a street of houses all built in the same style, same shape, same size spaced out evenly. The home owners find their individuality by adding to their gardens, painting the house a different colour, changing the doors and windows and even the roof. The basic shape is the same but what makes your home “yours” is the personal touches you apply which others do differently, and it is the same with denim. Whether it is the addition of a work cap or watch cap, a particular style of jacket, jewellery, reigns, chains wallets, belts, vests or even tattoos we all find our own comfort from the basic building blocks of denim, boots, shirt and jacket.
Subtlety is a word which I use often when talking about denim and work wear, I am a huge fan of subtle touches where the discovery is as much part of the pleasure as the feature itself. I feel the same way about denim and leather evolution where slight, even creeping changes give me far more excitement than the lightning strike fades popular amongst many. I have always preferred a well written plot over special effects, and it is in this slow march of change and wear which we find true variance to the prescribed standard. In essence we all start with the same tools, but what we build with them is entirely up to us.