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Bring Down The Selvedge Curtain


Ladies and gentlemen, it is with some regret that I must announce the end of this little piece of cyberspace, DenimHQ is no more.
It has been fun for me, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading at least something on here but the time has come to call it a day as I am looking to scale back my online involvement in the denim and work wear community. I haven’t lost my love for it, I haven’t lost my passion for it, what I have lost is my desire to be a focal point of any sort. I have simply realised that real life is more important.

I don’t make a living from denim, I don’t have any form of job or income in the denim and apparel world, I’m just a fan, a guy who wears jeans and runs a contest. Speaking of which, the contest will obviously continue and I will still be heavily involved, fear not. Where I will be scaling back is here, other forums and social media, in truth I have been scaling back for the last few months. I’ll still be around, and I’ll still post on forums from time to time no doubt, but it will be when and if I feel like it rather than anything obligatory.

Sincere thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read anything I have written on this blog,

Gav (Megatron1505)

Wesco Burlap Oxfords – Review


Wesco are currently the best North American work boot company in existence, I realise that is quite a statement, I realise that many people favour White’s Boots (as I once did), Viberg, Nick’s or even Red Wing, but for me there is no longer even an argument to be had here. Wesco are number one.

There was a time only a very short while ago when there was not much to choose really between the big three of White’s, Viberg and Wesco (I don’t include Alden as they are not primarily a work boot company), that isn’t really the case these days for a few reasons. In both White’s and Viberg there has been a paradigm shift, a slight one but when you operate at the top end of your chosen market slight changes can have fairly major repercussions.


White’s Boots reputation for cosmetic quality is not quite what it once was in the denim and work wear community, it’s still extremely good and far above what you would get from just about every other manufacturer in the market, unfortunately Whites are competing with brands who do better, and that is a problem. Over at Viberg they have continued with their path towards the high fashion market, choosing retail partners in luxury boutiques and courting the attentions of those perhaps more used to wearing Dior or Rick Owens than Samurai, Iron Heart or LVC. Which leaves Wesco, a brand who have risen to prominence here in the western denim and work wear scene a while after they did so in Japan. They still make custom options, they have a huge variety of leather options, they don’t have the most extensive range of models but they do make simple and solid footwear with near perfect construction.


Wesco found prominence in the market by being the favoured choice of Oregon based woodsmen and bikers alike, mostly due to their Jobmaster and Boss models. They are a brand who have been in business for 100 years and are still owned by the same family, so their heritage is on point for those who place importance on such things, and now they are setting the standard for what American made work footwear should be. Recent times have seen the Wesco range expand slightly in terms of the standard models and lasts which they offer, still not on a par with the other two mentioned boot makers but expansion nevertheless, and it is this adherence to doing what they do so well which has seen them take the top spot amongst boot brands.


Giles Padmore (of Iron Heart UK fame) has launched an exclusive Wesco dealership and distribution network in Europe, featuring a few select details which will only be available through this enterprise, know commonly as The Bootery EU. The first exclusive from Wesco which The Bootery took delivery of was the collaboratively designed “Foot Patrol” utility boot, a service boot/ semi dress rival which manages to be both casual, formal and practical in one stunning package. They also have exclusivity on a rather nice olive burlap leather which caught my eye as something which should evolve incredibly, so that is what I decided to order for my second pair of Wesco’s.


Having already sampled Wesco’s quality with a custom order of the Japanese “Flightmaster” model through the Bootery ,(for courtesies sake I refer to them as a modified packer), I decided to opt for the same brand again to make me a pair of shoes which has always taken my fancy, some lace to toe oxfords. Having chosen the model and the leather all that remained were the details.

– Wesco Lace To Toe Oxford
– Olive Burlap Leather
– Rough out
– Natural Edge
– Brown stitching
– Brass hardware
– Black wedge sole

My aim was for a pair of shoes which would have serious long term comfort for work and leisure, evolve to look even better with wear and most importantly they would need to hold my interest over a minimum of 24 months for wear the BWC contest. On first impressions, I am not disappointed.


The construction is, as expected, flawless. Stitching is even, edges are neat and the whole shoe feels like a robust quality item. The burlap leather has a soft hand but is also surprisingly substantial and certainly does not feel weak, which was a slight worry of mine. The leather is allegedly only 5oz but with the leather liner providing stiffness and support you get the softness and character of the rough out with enough heft to make the shoe quite a heavy piece of footwear. An intriguing detail to note, and one which I have not seen anyone else do, is actually stitching a wedge sole to the foot bed for extra durability. I have seen it done with other soles but never a wedge sole, if anyone was going to do it then it would be Wesco.


Something which always strikes me about Wesco footwear is how well it bears close inspection, it really is worth taking a close up look at the meticulously spaced stitching, the precision of the hardware fit and the smooth edges of the midsole, details which reassure you that you have bought a quality item indeed. The shape of the shoe is also near perfect, with lace to toe shoes and boots I have seen some manufacturers go too far in actually lacing to the toe, resulting in kind of a “bull nosed” look to the contour, too short, too wide and not particularly functional when it comes to the job of securing your boots with comfort, something of an over exaggeration of form resulting in a loss of function. Wesco get it absolutely correct, the shoe feels secure, with no slip whatsoever, whilst maintaining a form which is more subtle, true thought has gone into this.


In summary the shoes are exactly as I expected, precisely made with real attention to calibre and detailing. Wesco have gone beyond being simply a quality work boot company, their craft has made them a boot maker’s boot maker, a company producing the most stunning, well made and functional work boots and shoes there is. Whilst it is clear that footwear made from burlap leather perhaps won’t hold up to the rigours of serious labour, they could certainly occupy the feet of an office worker like me for many years to come.

DWC – The 24 month tux.


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.

Samurai Armour


There is something a bit special about Samurai jeans, for me personally it is where I first jumped into quality Japanese denim with a pair of 710XX and continued into the first Heavyweight Denim Championship with some 21oz S5000VX. Samurai always seem to go the extra mile with detailing that makes receiving a new pair of their jeans something of an event for a denim nerd, so when I received an unexpected little bonus in my wages a few weeks ago I decided that it might be time to revisit my first love for something a little special.

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I have spent much of the last few years wearing Iron Heart jeans almost exclusively, and my affection for that brand is extremely well documented, but Iron Heart and Samurai have (at least in the mind of many denim fans) been diametrically opposed in terms of what they offer and what they represent, they are the yin and yang of denim and many are fiercely loyal to one or the other, it shouldn’t be this way. So great are the differences between the brands that there is easily room for both in every denim heads wardrobe, it is true that both brands operate mainly at the heavier end of the denim curve but that is where similarities end. One is famed for its ridiculously over engineered and durable construction and materials, whilst the other is fondly loved for the detail and variety of its denim, though it is only fair to point out that Iron Heart have now closed this gap somewhat with some fascinating denim alchemy of their own.


Back on track and it seemed high time to me that I go back to Samurai and rekindle the feeling which first brought me into this scene, by ordering a new pair of Samurai jeans, but not just any pair. A phrase I use often is “if you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly” (taken from 80’s race movie “The Cannonball Run”), so my reunification with Samurai could not come through a pair of their more regular jeans, it had to be something extra ordinary. At first I bought the S710OG, organic cotton jeans, but the sizing didn’t work as I expected and I moved them on, so I decided to look for my “white whale” in terms of Samurai jeans, which had eluded me when first released in 2013 but of which I now found the last remaining pair sitting in the stock room of Japanese retailer 2nd, the 15th Anniversary 25oz S5000VX, and quite a pair of jeans they are.


The S5000 cut is one with which I am intimately familiar and one which I think works very well for me, it is a midrise, slightly slimmed straight cut with a slight and gradual taper (13” thigh, 10” knee, 9” hem), I had worn the 21oz almost exclusively for 2 years but the 25oz looked like a whole different challenge, and so it proved to be. I will go deeper into this in a future article comparing the 25oz denim of Samurai and Iron Heart, suffice to say that this is the first denim I have worn which actually hurt me due to its rough texture, luckily that feeling passed in little over a week, and apart from this minor pain and discomfort everything else is rather good.

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Beginning at the top and working our way to the bottom of the jeans let’s take a look at the details of the jeans. The top block of these jeans is where much of the action is, from the specially carved extremely thick anniversary leather patch, different to the normal printed deerskin patch of standard Samurai jeans, to the gold lettered back pocket tag, to the 15th anniversary pocket lining tag and ending with the almost ridiculous gold buttons, this jean feels like something totally special and has the features to look the part too.

Moving onto the denim it is necessary that I point out that its raw weight is 25oz, it’s soaked weight (and therefore its worn weight) is actually somewhere around 27oz, making this a pair of seriously heavy jeans. The denim certainly has heft and weight to it, but it somehow doesn’t feel as meaty as the Iron Heart 25oz, which is definitely softer and more immediately comfortable, but it is surprisingly very breathable even after a soak which makes it quite a versatile denim when it has softened up. The colour begins as a very dark shade of indigo which is common to most Samurai jeans, this is achieved by forcing the maximum amount of dye into each fibre, without penetrating the core so the material will still fade quite easily and, theoretically, with high contrast. Mine are beginning to show flashes of electric blue is high friction areas after only 10 days, which is certainly encouraging. Other details of note include the silver woven selvedge, the pure white bleached cotton weft and the two colour constructional stitching meaning the inseam is sewn with an orange/ copper thread, whilst the hem is finished with a muted gold colour.


I make no bones about the fact that these jeans were a vanity purchase, bought specifically because their details and special nature appealed to me in a cut which I find flattering and comfortable. As many who know me will attest I am a confirmed “cuffer” of jeans, but some pronounced is the puckering effect on these that I have felt inspired to do something a different, so for these jeans I will wear them uncuffed to their full 35” inseam in order to see if I can stack a denim this heavy, just a little inspiration which can be derived from buying jeans which make to feel “special”.

Denim Contests – All About The Fades


I struggled to know where to put this piece, it is related to the upcoming Denim World Championships but I feel that the comment deserves to be more broad. Also, I don’t want anyone to think that I am trying to unduly influence any way that the contest will be judged, this is solely about my personal opinion, I am not a judge in any contest.

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A point which has often been lost in the HWDC contests, and one in which I truly believe, is that the art of winning a denim contest should not come down to who can destroy their jeans first. Over the last couple of contests there has been a clamour of early excitement for jeans which have been shredded by their wearers everyday lives, which is great, honest and definitely within the spirit of the contest and the purpose of the garment but honestly it’s just not my taste.


Personally I prefer something a little more subtle, the various hues of blue, the definition of roping rather than pure white denim with gaping holes and large oil stains. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m against any type of faded aesthetic on the whole, I’m not, I would just like to see a little love for jeans with a little more understated wear. The variation of lifestyles of competitors shows in the wear of our jeans, and if an office worker, a retail worker or someone who doesn’t enjoy a raft of outdoors or handy craft hobbies is ever going to stand a chance in a denim contest then there needs to be a little more appreciation for the delicate and the low key, rather than just the blatant and excessive.

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I have personally always enjoyed the discreet details of my own jeans through wear, my favourite stage of wear being a few months in when the electric blue starts coming through the top weave en masse. I love to see roping develop on a hem, a partially faded belt loop, the way that the denim fades more above my right pocket through me getting to my keys and loose change every day, these are the important things to me which are sadly (in my opinion) overlooked by many. To use a movie analogy, some people love the Transformers movies as they are big, loud and take little thought to appreciate or digest, I would prefer to watch The Big Lebowski because each time I watch it I spot a small detail that I have never noticed before.

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I have a quiet fear that sometimes people lose heart in a denim contest when they see the epic high contrast combs achieved by some in a relatively short space of time, perhaps feeling that they won’t be able to achieve anything close to that so what is the point in continuing. I would like to see that corrected in some way, it crossed my mind that for the DWC we should have forgotten about the weight classes and instead allowed people to separate themselves by lifestyle or activity level, or some other way for the more relaxed wearer to have their day in the sun. Maybe that’s going to be something for future, for now I’ll keep championing the cause of subtlety over shock and awe.


Sauce Zhan Custom Review by b_F

Discerning denim aficionado beautiful_Freak lays hands on Sauce Zhan denim, made in China, and gives it some serious scrutiny to see how it measures up against the best in the business.

I really had a hard time to decide how to write this review. Sauce Zhan offers besides regular models also an option for custom jeans. And I took this option of a custom pair of jeans. Specifying the denim he should use, the details and even gave him “instructions” regarding the cut.

I wanted Evisu-like details that would be two-tone stitching, offset belt loops and a crotch rivet (yeah I like that quirky detail). I referred to his model 313XX for which the Evisu #2000 No.1 already acted as a model. For the denim, I also wanted the denim he used for his 313XX as the fading samples where exactly my cup of tea. That fabric was gone so he used a different one and told me so. No biggie since he said the denim would be comparable.


For the fit, I gave him measurements of Ooe Yofukuten’s 02 cut (’66 inspired). Yes, I really lack in own creativity…

When I finally received the package (due to problems in transferring the money to China, thankfully solved by Gavin) I opened it, took the jeans out of it, held those jeans in my hand and…had something distinctly different in my hands. First thing I noticed, no crotch rivet. Two-tone stitching? Yes, but not everywhere I would have expected it. And the fit? Well, noticeably slimmer just by the look of it. And a much lower rise. But the denim felt nice!

So, to sum it up, I got a pair of jeans with not entirely matching details, a different fit than ordered but nice denim.

A review from the standpoint of “Denim Customization” (as he stamps it on his pocket bags) would leave Sauce Zhan with a rating that would leave much to be desired. Maybe 3/10 or 4/10.

But this wouldn’t do Sauce Zhan or his craftsmanship justice! That is why I will review the pants I received as objective as I can.


One of the most important things in a pair of jeans is the fit. If the fit isn’t right you will never be happy wearing the jeans no matter how nice the denim and details are.

Although the cut is quite different to what I specified, I really like the fit! This pair features mid to mid/low rise, generous top block with a prominent taper that results in quite a modern silhouette. Advantage of the lower rise: the jeans sit below my belly on my hips. Still high enough so I don’t show a plumber’s crack. The thigh&top block allow for a comfortable fit and movement without restrictions and thanks to the taper you get a slim fit.

In the end I would say I like this modern fit better than I might have liked the fit I asked for…



This is where Sauce Zhan definitely wins. He used a 14,5 oz denim made of XinJiang cotton and woven in the south of China. It is an unsanforized denim according to Sauce Zhan and also my friend Gavin says it is a loomstate fabric. I’d like disagree on the loomstate. The fabric has a very flat feel to it, you hardly notice any bumps when you stroke over the fabric although you can see the irregularities in the denim. So maybe the denim got pressed after weaving?

It is a hairy and fluffy denim so it surely hasn’t been singed and since it shrank with a soak the denim should be unsanforized or only partially sanforized. All in all, the feel of the fabric reminds me of Skull Jeans partially sanforized 6×6 denim.

After the soak the fibres/hairs got more prominent and the denim got a rougher feel to it. But still soft to touch.


Now we are at it. Sauce Zhan doesn’t save on details. He knows what wearers of raw denim like to see and I am sure he got educated by studying the Japanese brands. So I would say let’s start from the top.

Nice buttons with the engraving “International World Jeans” which I already saw used on jeans from smaller Japanese brands. V-stitch next to the top button.

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The copper rivets are engraved with his own lettering. They are from the pointy type you know from your pre-‘60s jeans.


The hidden rivets are, from Universal.


Raised belt loops. And raised to a point where it is borderline gimmicky. It looks and feels like he really put a rope in those belt loops like e.g. Ande Whall did some time ago. And since you can feel that something moves inside the belt loops I see my theory confirmed. From my understanding the Japanese brands create this raised effect by just folding the denim while sewing. But the stitching on the belt loops is not entirely even.


Hidden coin-pocket selvedge without peek-a-boo.


Two-tone stitching on the front pocket entries and on the fly. But not on the belt loops, yoke stitching or back pockets. So not Evsiu-like.

Chainstitch at the hem which reveals a rather reserved roping after the initial soak. But I am sure it will get better with future washes.


The jeans come with a beefy leather patch. Honestly, I dislike to thick leather patches and especially on this 14,5oz denim I find it too much. I can understand and accept such thich patches on 20+oz jeans.

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Now we come to the other major aspect of jeans, especially when talk about “Made in China” jeans (because they have that savour): the construction!

First off, I haven’t noticed loose threads or the like. The construction looks and feels solid on first sight. There are however smaller flaws.

The button hole stitching is rather thin/loose. But as long as it holds up there is no need to argue.


The bartacks at the belt loops are not perfectly executed and a bit skewed. But I think the rope inside the belt loops causes this.


Like I wrote earlier, the stitching on the belt loops is also not even as you can see above. There is more denim on the right side of the stitching compared to the denim on the left side.

The inseam is constructed in a way I haven’t seen before (or just haven’t noticed). The very obvious double chainstitch. Also a bit skewed.


So yes, there are some minor flaws but so what? Those jeans are hand-made. The most important thing is that they will hold up against wear and tear and only time will tell. An uneven stitching doesn’t matter as long as the durability is there and the integrity of the jeans isn’t questioned.

So finally, how would I rate Sauce Zhan jeans?

Honestly, the customization part is tricky since there is still the language barrier and I think the outcome of my pair was due to this.

But the fit, denim and construction of the denim is where it needs to be. Because you mustn’t forget the price. I really think they are worth their price and when you buy one of his standard models or a model designed by someone to be produced in great quantities (wink Gavin 😉 ), you will get a product that don’t have to hide against the usual “entry” brands.

Unfortunately, I will wear a different pair of jeans for the next years in the DWC (Denim World Championships) but I am sure Gavin will surely show you that those Sauce Zhan jeans can take some abuse.

Editors note: Unfortunately I won’t be wearing Sauce Zhan for the contest either, as my pair will be mailed around to retailers as a sample.

DHQ Comment – Back To Basics


There can be no doubt that the denim and work wear scene is growing rapidly, perhaps too rapidly for my comfort but that is another story, with new brands and customers, new denims and innovative design tweaks around every corner it is easy to become dazzled by everything which seems new and shiny. As customers we can now buy raw selvedge denim to fit our budget, which will tick many of the boxes we look for in a quality pair of jeans, from manufacturers based both outside and inside the traditional markets, we can buy from Kickstarter brands, we can buy from more retailers than ever before and choose a denim to suit our very particular style, comfort and climate requirements. We can buy vintage 55 cuts, we can buy super slim tapered cuts, we can even buy glow in the dark denim. This is all very exciting at first, but speaking personally it is just beginning to wear me down a little, the sensory overload of everything new and exciting is conversely making me crave something familiar and dependable, so what does that really mean?


I am most definitely a creature of habit, and my habits tend to work in cycles, there are times when I want to experience new jeans and shirts from brands and manufacturers I have never tried before with crazy designs and unique stories. Then there are times when I want to wear a pair of five pocket blue jeans with cuffs, a white tee shirt and a chambray work shirt with a well-made pair of boots and just feel happy with myself. This is where I am at the moment.

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This is both a good and a bad thing for me personally, on the one hand it does limit what I can write and talk about here on DHQ as there is only so much I can say about the same shirt, jeans and boots, on the other hand it is perfect timing for this cycle with the DWC looming so close (8 weeks and counting). I am genuinely looking forward to committing myself to the same small number of clothes for a fixed period and thus removing the majority of the thought and effort from my everyday appearance. The thing about limiting my clothing choices for the next 24 months is that whilst many would find it expressively limiting, I find it completely liberating. There is so much to be said for getting out of bed and pulling the same jeans on every day, the same shirt and just adding a jacket and some footwear, especially for someone who spends as much time thinking about, writing about and talking about denim as I do.

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On the 1st of May I will put on my DWC contest jeans and know that they will be my default setting for the next 24 months, shortly after I’ll add a shirt or jacket to the mix, then finally some footwear. I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the comfort that kind of uniformity brings, maybe I should have joined the military?