HWDC2 Ends, DWC Begins

IMG_8296 IMG_8298

The next few weeks promise to be quite busy for me, the HWDC2 is coming to a close and the DWC is getting ready to launch, all of which means that there will be much excitement in the coming weeks. Anyone who has observed the HWDC2 threads over on Superfuture and the Iron Heart forum will have seen some of the most amazing faded denim around as the HWDC2 draws to a close, there is no doubt that judging will a monumental task for our panel of experts. So what’s going to be happening to bring one competition to a close and launch the next? Let me explain.

87FE5519-5A30-4319-B196-6020B34D5279-15389-000013B2834181E5 photo-1

As we wind down the HWDC2 all remaining contestants will be asked to make their final submissions in the relevant forum threads. I will notify our judging panel and ask them to make their selections from both the Heavyweight and Super Heavyweight categories, whoever polls the most selections will win their category. From there it will be a straight fight between the two category winners to find the overall Heavyweight Denim Champion of the world, and announce their victory. I will then contact all the sponsors to send their pledged prizes out to the lucky winners.

HDC-version-2 65155_569949153031536_801766967_n

The DWC launch will be a much more simple affair, as it will technically involve nothing other than contestants starting their own thread on the DWC forum, telling us about their jeans and updating regularly. The first three months will see the first challenges for those taking part, as well as the first walking challenge in the BWC and the first “condition statement” pictures from those continuing from HWDC2 into HWDC3 “Last Man Standing”. Those who signed up to use the contest jeans provided by Iron Heart, and the contest boots provided by Wesco will get their wares shortly and I am personally extremely excited to see them.

IMG_5245 IMG_7120

The next 24 months promise a whole host of new denim journeys, just as we have seen in the HWDC2. The standard of competition from those remaining as that contest draws to a close is simply incredible, if the DWC can match that then I think that we will all be super impressed.

Advertisements

DHQ Gets Slim Shady With THE Iron Heart IH555-BLK

DSC_0199 DSC_0198

I am not a small man, I am 6ft 1 inch tall and weight around 215lbs. I am not a young man (relatively speaking), I will be 39 this year and I look every single one of those years of age, plus a couple more on a bad day. I am not a pretty man, I am bald, have a crooked nose and a ginger beard of varying proportions. These are facts. Skinny, or even slim cut jeans are better worn by slimmer, better looking men than myself, people who know and care about things like fashion and trends, perhaps, men with an interest in artisan coffee and folk music who read books about interior design and walk their pug to the vegan bakery maybe? So why do I find myself wearing a pair of Iron Heart’s slimmest ever cut of jeans, the 555, and loving them?

10948294_397756677068582_1587356299_n

Recently I sold my Trophy Clothing Blackie jeans, they were great jeans but the cut just did not work for me as they were a little wide for my frame, this also coincided with receiving (by accident) a pair of extremely slim jeans from Sauce Zhan along with my custom cut jeans. I tried these slim jeans on as an experiment and much to my surprise I liked them. I am of the sincere belief that a pair of black denim is a wardrobe essential to balance out the blue, not every day is for indigo, so it seemed logical for me to replace the Blackie’s with a pair of slim black jeans from my go to label Iron Heart. I also take a view of if you’re going to do something then it should be done properly, hence the arrival of the seemingly un-heralded IH555-BLK, an Iron Heart jean which seems to have slipped under the radar of many if Google image search anything to go by.

ih-555s-blk ih-555s-blk-1

The 555 is an even more slimmed down version of the 666 Devils cut. Like the 666 it offers a comfortable top block but it also has a much narrower fit throughout the entire leg, the cut was developed with an Indonesian retailer primarily for the Asian market, but larger sizes fit larger men, including me. The denim is Iron Hearts signature 21oz, exactly the same as used in the flagship model 634S jeans, but is dyed black rather than blue, it is dyed in exactly the same way so fading on the 555-BLK’s should be very possible and the 21oz denim is one of the best denims available for comfort and conforming to the wearers body shape, which is a definite bonus in a narrow cut.

ih-555s-blk-1

The first thing to note about the 555 cut is that, despite being the slimmest of the Iron Heart cuts, it is certainly not a skin tight, jegging style cut, I would describe it as a slim(mer) tapered cut. The top block of the jeans fits like a standard pair of jeans, the thigh fits in a similar manner to the 66 cut, whilst from the knee down the taper becomes more dramatic resulting in a shape which is in reality far more subtle than the measurement table would suggest, they certainly won’t endanger your chances starting a family or make walking awkward, although crouching can become slightly painful. I guess that the only word of caution here is that it is definitely worth checking the measurement table to ensure that you will have enough room through the thigh, knee and hem. The second thing to note is that the denim doesn’t look particularly black on the internet, without the benefit of comparison it can look more like a grey cast blue. I can tell you that it is most definitely black but with a very definite white weft, meaning that it should fade really nicely. In terms of colour they remind me very much of an old pair of Samurai S5000BK which I owned many years ago.

10946224_709081355879607_1888018535_n

The real mystery for me concerning these jeans is that they seem to be quite unpopular in the great scheme of cuts and denims from Iron Heart, despite being very reminiscent of the Iron Heart x Self Edge collaboration black jeans, the 7301, which was really popular at the time of release. Indeed the mystery is deepened when you realise that, unlike the 7301, the 555-BLK has a selvedge out seam. I am unsure if the lack of popularity is due to being the fourth of four different denims used on this cut, or if the timing of the release was just a bit off maybe, but I certainly believe that these jeans deserve a little more attention than they have gotten so far. I love that the 555 is a slim cut which is accessible to bigger guys rather than just waifs, and I find this particularly handy as some wider cut jeans in sizes 36 and upwards just look sloppy no matter how you cuff or hem them, whereas the 555 looks sleek and sharp. I would certainly advocate that if you are a larger guy who wants a more flattering shape to his denim then you should perhaps take a look at the 555’s, just be sure to check the measurement table first.

Black Is The New Black – Iron Heart 666SB Review

DSC_0194

Popular denim wisdom will tell you that the true wonder of denim is in how it evolves, how it fades and how it becomes unique to the wearer, carrying the scars, triumphs and tragedies of your individual life. This is a wisdom which I fully subscribe to, indeed it is the core foundation to my love of denim in which I obsess on a daily basis, poring every new hint of blue or loss of indigo from whatever is occupying my legs on any given day. Not only my legs either but also the legs of the countless masses of the internet. Every single day I spend a large portion of time looking through forums and blogs at pictures of worn denim, some of the jeans I see through the HWDC2 are so familiar that I know who’s they are before I see the name of the person who has posted them, they have become almost as familiar to me as my own. So a denim which does not fade at all, a denim which is black as midnight and is probably the hardest denim of the planet to yield to your own will, a denim which totally goes against this received wisdom should be completely against everything I love about denim right, I mean it doesn’t even have a selvedge out seam?

DSC_0193

The SB (Super Black) denim from Iron Heart has a certain uncompromising reputation amongst followers of the brand which is extremely valid. I have seen many types of denim described as “armour” for its weight and rigidity but when it is said about SB it is not simple hyperbole, this is real, genuine denim armour. The base denim is a projectile loomed version of Iron Hearts signature 21oz sanforised denim, a true classic of the quality denim scene, it is then reactive dyed on both warp and weft which ensures virtually no fade at all and a texture more common to chain mail than cotton fabric, a mere touch of the SB denim is all you need to tell you that it is something totally different. The jeans which I have to review, made from the SB denim, are Iron Hearts most popular slim cut jean, the 666 Devils cut. The very fact that they are a slim cut made from a material as uncompromising as SB makes the prospect of putting them on my legs well… intimidating, I have worn Samurai’s 23oz, I have worn Iron Hearts 25oz, but the 21oz Super Black makes these jeans seem like linen summer trousers, but in the interests of denim journalism I will put my legs on the line and give them a wear test.

DSC_0195

As with all of Iron Heart’s heavy jeans buttoning them is a thumb bruising experience, it is when the last button crunches into place though that I finally understand that my fear is not warranted, the devil is my friend and his armour is not to be feared. The cut of the 666 is slim, but not oppressively so, it has more than enough room for comfort whilst maintaining an extremely flattering silhouette with a slimmed down thigh leading into a gradual taper below the knee, it feels like a cut made for rock stars. The SB denim feels substantial and reassuring wrapped around your legs, without a hint of the roughness or abrasion which I had feared, it is most definitely armour, but a comforting armour rather than an unwieldy and awkward experience. The jeans feel great, they look great and they make me feel like I should be heading out for a night out with Keith Richards and Lemmy, not that I would probably return from such an experience.

3da2f118de1dd99b19df379b2b4ba416 de4ff542e51165d474ca3d3b941c1130

It would be pointless for me to espouse the virtue of Iron Hearts quality, their reputation for this is well deserved and established, so instead let’s talk about the elephants in the room, the major reasons why these jeans, and this denim, possibly won’t make it onto most denimheads Christmas or Birthday lists and once again it is all down to that “popular wisdom”. Firstly and most obviously the denim doesn’t fade, you can literally hot wash a plain white tee with these jeans with impunity. I have seen examples of SB denim which is 4 or 5 years old and could pass for new, for most things we buy this would be considered as nothing short of incredible, but as so many like and expect their denim to evolve there may be a perception that SB has no purpose. I would argue that it has the perfect purpose, it is the constant in a world of variation, it is permanence in a field of transience, and let’s be honest and say that there are social settings where your ripped and faded denim is just not acceptable, wouldn’t you like to have that same quality of jeans in a denim which will always look just as good as the day you bought them? I think that has a definite appeal. The Iron Heart SB denim is their equivalent of Willy Wonka’s “everlasting gob stopper” , an immortal jean for grown ups and the fact that it doesn’t fade is its strength, not its weakness.

ih-666sb-5 ih-666sb-6

The second and probably more esoteric reason that these jeans perhaps won’t feel the same love as their stable mates is the omission of the two red lines on the out seam, and it is a fact that selvedge matters to most. I believe that many see selvedge as a major part of their differentiation, it is what sets our jeans apart from the high street, from the masses, and to a certain extent I do understand this. The facts of the matter though are that the “self edge” of the denim serves no real purpose on modern denim, and does not speak as to the quality of the material. It may well mean that the denim was woven on projectile looms rather than shuttle looms, but the thread is the same, the construction is the same and there is absolutely no variation in quality at all. Therefore the difference between selvedge or not is perhaps one of human particularity, of a certain snobbish association with vintage detailing, but as selvedge is also so common now (even on the high street), surely for a high end Japanese denim jean to NOT have selvedge is a real mark of anarchy, SB denim is original, it is the anarchist and it doesn’t care what you think of it.

ih-666sb-4 ih-666sb-3

Where Iron Heart succeed with these jeans is in making them from a denim manufactured for practicality, the denim is a huge favourite with Japanese bikers for its toughness and lack of fade, in a cut which simply screams rock and roll. With the 666-SB the devil is truly in the details, such as the super black arcs, the red W mark on the back pocket and the use of red stitching to turn a fairly standard out seam into a feature worthy of attention should you favour a cuff (I do). If you care solely about things like setting creases, roping, honey combs and selvedge, and you are not prepared to open up your mind a little then these jeans are more than likely not for you. If, however, you find yourself staring at your wardrobe full of sick fades and contemplating buying yet more denim to wear to the office or dinner party or night out as your regular pairs have gone past the point of being socially permissible then you really should take a look at these jeans. If having a constant in your wardrobe appeals to you or even if you simply feel like rebelling against everything that you have ever learned or read about denim then these are the jeans for you. It is time to unlearn what you have learned, put away your security in knowledge and embrace anarchy, be a wolf amongst the sheep and do it dressed in black. The Devil needs you to embrace the dark side, and it feels good.

ih-666sb ih-666sb-2

Denim HQ – The Simple Cafe Racer

DSC_0179 DSC_0184

A while ago I wrote an FWA article about my previous leather jacket, a Simmons Bilt Cossack style jacket by Alexander Leathers of Selkirk, Scotland, it was a thing of beauty, a true life time piece, but alas it became apparent that it was not for me. The problem I found with the Simmons Bilt in the end was that it required effort to wear, its distinctive style and short body length meant that I really had to think about what to wear with it, and when to wear it and as a result I virtually never took it out of my wardrobe. The best thing to do with it was to move it on to an owner who would truly appreciate it, and so it now resides in Portugal with a man who is very happy with it, but this left me with a wardrobe void for a leather jacket so once again I turned to Giles Padmore of Iron Heart to see if he could help me put together my ideal jacket.

DSC_0181 DSC_0180

Previous to owning the Simmons Bilt I had owned two leather jackets which I really enjoyed, a vintage Schott Police issue jacket in very heavy steer hide, and a café racer from Brooks of Detroit in a much lighter leather. Both jackets were extremely good but both also had things which annoyed me and resulted in me moving them on, the Schott had a collar which I didn’t care for and epaulets on the shoulders which are not my thing either, the Brooks was too light and also had an oversized collar, my perfect jacket would have to lose these features but keep the length and heft of the Schott with the style of the Brooks. I began to compile a list of features and found that the word which kept repeating in my mind was “simple”, the jacket had to be as plain as possible with no unnecessary pockets, no fancy stitch adornments, no contrast stitching, I even wanted the hardware and zippers to be muted against a black background.

DSC_0182 DSC_0183

What I asked for, what Giles tweaked and what Alexander made is (in my opinion), a wonderful exercise in less is more, a jacket where not a feature is spare or superfluous, everything is where it should be and it is all required to present a café racer of effortless beauty. The jacket is made from Horween steer hide, and is therefore substantial and heavy, it is lined with twill for multi season use with pockets lined with corduroy for comfort, it is slightly longer than most jackets of this style with the body extending an inch past the end of the zipper and is fastened with brass, Iron Heart branded, heavy duty YKK zippers.

DSC_0185 DSC_0186

There is so much I love about this design, it is classic and can be worn with just about anything but obviously looks best with just a tee shirt and jeans. It is super comfortable and easy to wear, despite the weight, mainly due to the fact that in essence it is nothing more than a plain zip fronted jacket which just happens to be made from one of the world’s greatest leathers. What I love most about it however is its total and utter subtlety, every last detail is there to be downplayed whilst retaining its obvious quality and refinement, which is a strange word to associate with a super tough leather motorcycle style jacket but appropriate in these circumstance I think.

DSC_0187

In around nine months with the Simmons Bilt I probably wore it about five times, the ALxIH Café Racer has been with me for 4 days and I have worn it every single day, a trend I can see continuing. The secret to that is that I can feel it willing me to break it in, to wear it, to soften the leather and to mould it to me and make it mine because I know that when I do it could quite possibly be the greatest item of clothing I have ever owned, but the element of the unknown is whether it beats me before I beat it, it’s going to be great finding out.