2017 has been by far the most exciting year of denim and work wear for me so I thought it would be fun to write a small reflection on my year in denim while also discussing my plans for 2018. In terms of the larger denim world, the biggest news was the announcement of the impending closure of the Cone Mills White Oak plant. I have already covered this topic in an article which you can read here: https://wordpress.com/post/almostvintagestyle.wordpress.com/202 . This news certainly shook the denim world and the repercussions will likely continue for several years, though as I mention in the article, they may not all be negative.
More recently, the Wichita, Kansas denim brand FNL announced their closure. I had not heard of this brand until joining Instagram, but it is always disappointing to hear about a raw denim brand closing their doors. This is at least the second year in a row that a small, slightly quirky, denim brand from an unlikely location announced that they were closing their doors near the end of the year. For those who do not remember, Ande Whall, a one man brand from New Zealand announced the end of the brand in November of last year.
In less negative denim news, the trend toward vintage fades continued on forums, with Superdenim even having some controversy over the results of the latest Denim World Championship. The latest DWC started as well this year and is quite special because it is the first denim contest that I have ever been a part of. With vintage fades being popular, it is unsurprising that reproduction-style denim appears to be more popular than ever. Warehouse has already been quite popular over the last couple of years and TCB and Conner’s Sewing Factory certainly growing in popularity on forums recently. TCB started their 1920’s contest with nearly 50 contestants around the world and this is one that I will be following quite closely.
My personal denim year has very positive overall with quite a few changes and new developments. In terms of my personal style, the biggest changes have been in my move toward wearing more sweatshirts and t shirts rather than button up shirts. This is actually fairly significant for me as in the past I would almost never wear t shirts and did not own a single pullover sweatshirt until this year.
In addition, I have also shifted from slimmer fitting jeans to much fuller cuts. In the past, I always worried about looking too short and wide in looser denim cuts, but the more I wear them, the more I think they actually look better on me. My Freewheelers 1951 jeans and Conner’s Sewing Factory WWII and 1937 jeans have quickly become my most worn jeans over the course of the year and I do not see this personal trend ending any time soon.
My new sweatshirt and classic cut denim obsessions in one shot!
Of course, the real reason that this was such a great year for me was that I did and started more denim-related activities and events than ever before. In February, I went to Inspiration for the third year in a row and spent the most time I ever had at the event. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to make spend even more time at this year’s coming show while also write an article covering the event so look out for that in February! Right after Inspiration, my fiance and I made it out to Desert and Denim. This was a great event where we got to hang out with the guys from Freenote Cloth and Standard and Strange. There were also quite a few other brands and craftspeople there with a lot to enjoy for both guys and girls, even ones that aren’t crazy denim people.
With David Himel of Himel Bros. Leather
Inspiration is a must-attend event if you live in Socal
The best aspect of this event was the fact that it was out in Pioneertown in the high desert of California during February. This resulted in absolutely stunning scenery and jacket weather at the same time. Unfortunately, we have no plans to go to this coming year’s event due to them unwisely moving the event to June when it will be around 100 degrees F out during the event. This is a shame as Alee particularly loved this event.
We were also fortunate enough to make it up to San Francisco for Denimbruin this year. This is hosted by the same person who runs the Denimbro forum and is an event I have wanted to attend for some time, having missed last year’s event. We were able to meet many members of the Denimbro forum as well as Roy Slaper in person and go to AB Fits and Standard and Strange for the very first time. To top it off, we love San Francisco and the weather was jacket-ready, even in August. Unfortunately, this is rumored to be the last Denimbruin event, but we will try to go again next year if the event is renewed.
Denimbruin in San Francisco was a blast!
By far the biggest denim highlight of the year was my trip to Japan that I took with my brother from late June through early July of this year. This was a truly incredible experience and we were able to visit quite a few shops and meet several brand owners and craftsmen while we were there. I plan on releasing a multi-part series detailing this trip beginning in January of this month.
Saying that Japan is awesome is the understatement of the year
The other most important adventures that I began this year were setting off onto Instagram and beginning this blog. Instagram has been quite an adventure already and has consumed me far more than I was expecting it to when I first started posting on it. As mentioned in my previous article, the community is extremely positive and welcoming and I really enjoy the focus on photography that the platform requires. It very nicely balances out all of the writing that I do on this blog and on forums.
It has also allowed me to connect with people from across the world that I never would have spoken to otherwise and I have already learned a wealth of knowledge thanks to the different people and culture that is on Instagram compared to the forums. Most importantly, I have already been able to meet some people in person thanks to the photo app. The ladenimhangs crew are awesome guys that I will be hanging out with again this weekend. If nothing else comes from it, meeting like-minded dudes that I can vibe with in real life would make the entire Instagram endeavor worthwhile.
People REALLY like my boot pics on Instagram 😀
With that said, I doubt that will be the only benefit of Instagram as it has already been incredibly invaluable for growing this blog. While still quite young, it has been a fantastic experience to start this blog. It has forced me to look much more deeply at this hobby that consumes my life and look not only at the products that populate it, but the overarching trends that occur and much larger questions and themes which is something that I will continue to explore as I move forward.
I have more ideas for articles than I know what to do with, but I can at least give a preview of what I know I want to cover in the near future and the plans I have for this year. The next article will be a review of my new natural leather belt dyed with kakishibu from Wild Frontier Goods. This is one of the most unique products I have seen in some time so it will certainly be quite interesting to look at. After this, I will review my first ever pair of Red Wing boots that I purchased only a couple of moths ago. Having never been a big fan of Red Wing in the past, I am quite excited to write this review.
These Red Wing Irish Setter boots will be reviewed soon!
In addition, I also have new products coming in from Viapiana Denim and Himel Bros. Leather which will also get full reviews when they arrive. In fact, the Viapiana jeans will be part of my exclusive one man brand shoot out series that will compare all of the most well-known one man denim brands including Roy, Conner’s Sewing Factory, WH Ranch, Viapiana, and Ooe Yofuketen (Ooe is technically a husband and wife team, but only one of them sews the jeans). What I am most excited for, however, is the multi-part Japan trip series that I will be starting in January of this year.
Japanese gardens are stunningly gorgeous
A preview of the Japan trip series
I plan to detail the entire trip through the incredible country that is Japan while focusing on all of the denim and work wear-related people we met and items that I purchased. It will include a trip to Nagano for a tour of The Flat Head’s facilities and leather factory and will conclude with reviews of products I purchased there including my Flat Head and RJB rings, Clinch boots, Conner’s Sewing Factory WWII denim jeans and jacket, and White Kloud custom boots.
I am sure that this was not all that interesting to read and I apologize for that, but I felt that it was important for myself to reflect upon this year as well as take some time to plan out what I will be doing next year on the blog. If you got nothing else out of this article, I hope you are at least excited for the one man brand denim shootout series and the Japan trip series because I certainly am excited to write those. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read any of my musings and I hope you will stick around for what is to come.*
*I realized after writing this that I did not have any footnotes and it felt weird so I added this just to make myself feel better. Here’s a random fact so this footnote means something: Did you know that when the state of Florida attempted to ban internet cafes in 2013 they wrote the law so poorly that they accidentally banned computers in the entire state?