I run denim contest because I love seeing denim evolve, a plain, simple and selfish reason, I like to see a lot of denim being worn and evolving in front of my very eyes, and there is no better way to do that than to get a large bunch of people to wear denim all at the same time. For the DWC I wanted a way to see even more denim evolve together, so what better ways to do that than invite every weight of denim, and make a special category just for people mad enough to double up on their denim to a full on tux. Now obviously I can’t actually enter the contest, as it would look highly suspicious if I were to amazingly win (not much real chance of that), but I do like to ride along in all of these contests as a none judged contestant.
This time around I’m going all out, I will be wearing jeans, jacket and boots in full on contest mode to see the whole thing evolve before my eyes. The jeans I have chosen are a 23oz raw, loom state denim from Iron Heart, given the moniker UHR (Ultra Heavy Raw), just because all weights are opened up doesn’t mean that I will stray from what I know and love, for the upper part of the tux I have also stuck with Iron Heart (big surprise I hear you shout), with a jacket that I think is quite different to what some may expect from the kings of heavy and tough denim and work wear. So what is it that makes it so different?
Well, to begin with it isn’t especially heavy at 17oz, more of a mid-weight in terms of many of the denim jackets we see these days from Japanese brands, and certainly by Iron Heart standards. Secondly, it isn’t a trucker jacket or a motorcycle jacket, it is actually an interpretation of the 1920’s designed Lee Model 91-B, otherwise known as the “first zip” jacket, it has a corduroy lined collar and hand warmer pockets and, as the name suggests, a zip closer rather than buttons.
The original jacket was part of the western wear designed by Lee in the early part on the 20th century, it was designed as a definite piece of outer wear to be worn as either an outer layer or lower layer in the colder months and is therefore cut to be worn with a fitted look, or somewhat looser. I have opted to wear mine on the looser side as it will predominantly be my outer wear for most of the year over the top of anything from a tee to a heavy flannel or a hoodie.
The denim is a 17oz right hand twill which goes against the current trend for super hairy, slubby weaves by being more uniformly flat than any other Japanese denim that I have ever seen, which to me is its exact appeal. The denim perfectly captures both the look and feel of quality American made denim of the 20th century. It’s easy to forget that until recently things like slubs and loom chatter were seen as imperfections in denim rather than character, the larger American brands such as Lee and Levis strived for their denim to be as uniform as possible, which is why some people criticise Cone Mills denim as being boring, or lacking character. It isn’t, it is simply being what it is meant to be, good quality material for work wear, and Iron Heart have managed to capture that flavour perfectly.
The 91-B may have been available since 1926 , but it really found favour and popularity in the 1960’s and 70’s when it was owned and worn by such credible celebrity luminaries as Steve McQueen and Don Henley of the Eagles. Strangely it is this retro vibe, in such and under stated manner, which also appeals to me, it looks like an old design, but in no way outdated. The other key appeal for me personally is that I really like the convenience of things like zips and hand warmer pockets, they’re simply easier and suit my lifestyle more as I am the kind of guy who has to carry things like doggy doo bags, vape sticks and various receipts which my wife won’t allow me to throw away.
The contrast between the denim on my legs, and the denim on my torso is marked. One is heavy, raw, soft and appears to depart with its colour fairly easily, the other is mid-weight, hard, sanforised and looks like it might take quite a bit of work break down, this is a good thing. To have two completely different denim evolving at different rates and in diverse ways keeps my tux interesting for me, and stops it looking like a pre-distressed denim jump suit from Urban Outfitters. I’m hoping for some serious variation between the two denims, I’m expecting some relatively sharp contrasts on the jeans and a more muted vintage fade on the jacket allowing me to cover just about the full spectrum of fade types in one outfit. I guess that it’s ok to dream.