mars 07, 2011

I hope in this article about "Denim Heads" that I wrote for Les Inrocks.

Denim my love

Is spending 400 euros on a pair of jeans reasonable? It’s not an issue for Denimheads, who are willing to spend anything for a pair woven in Japan from extremely rare Texan cotton. It’s 4am in France and posts are flooding in on Superdenim, the reference forum for Denimheads. On this night they are particularly passionate. They are preparing for the Heavyweight Denim Championship of the World, which for them is the election of the best jeans in the world, in the category of heavy jeans. The event is taken very seriously. The rules stipulate that the participants must present a pair of jeans they bought less than two months ago, and that weigh more than 500g. After entering the competition they must post photos of their jeans every two months. At the end of the competition, in twenty-four months, the images will be scrutinised and the most beautiful pair, the one which has aged the best, will be crowned by a panel of judges made up of experts, headed by non other than Kiya. Owner of the Self Edge shops, Kiya is one of the major figures of the movement. For him/her? denimheads “to a lot of people are the same as sneaker freakers”, people who are addicted to trainers, although they “don’t go after products of major brands like Nike or Adidas, but look for items produced by small brands that are unknown to the wider public”. At Self Edge, which has been in San Francisco for years along with stores in LA and New York, you can find jeans from brands such as Studio D’Artisan, Iron Heart, Warehouse, Samurai and Sugar Cane. These brands, which are all Japanese, are specialists in the production of Artisan jeans. They use old American sewing machines that were thrown away by big American brands at the end of the 60s, when quantity had become more important than quality, and indulge in truly outdoing competitors in terms of authentic material and exclusivity. When Samurai brings out its S8000JX-N, a model made entirely from an extremely rare Texan cotton ultra rare, Artisan Studios retorts with D1507, a jean fabric dyed according to a home-made process bordering on the neurotic, in a small factory on the island of Shikoku, in the South of Japan. At the end of the day, these jeans obviously cost a fortune. For the S8000JX-N from Samurai, a product which only has one hundred and twenty copies worldwide, it necessarily costs 350 Euros. For the D1507 of the Artisan Studio, its 450 Euros. And the people scramble to buy these. In Japan, home to all the neurotic fashions and the hub for the Denimhead scene, these brands have numerous selling points. In the United States, Self Edge shops or the temple Blue in Green, in New York, is teeming with people, whereas the European community thrives on the VMC shop from Zurich. On the forum Superdenim, they are a couple of dozen, with suggestive pen names (“DenimDestroyMyLife” or “I want to die in jean”) to discuss all day long the size of rivets used on pockets before by a jeans or to the morality of wearing a pair of jeans made from the thread of Zimbabwean cotton, collected by an exploited workforce. The Denimhead sometimes has different moods, but it quickly returns to the essential part. All day long, selvage is discussed (the traditional weaving method for the denim) or sanforisage (a heat treatment which reduces the risks of the denim shrinking). By definition, the Denimhead is obsessive. And absolutely inflexible on certain points. He will never buy an artificially worn out pair of Diesel jeans. He will wear it out himself. To do it, he will wear it over long months, often for over a year, without washing it. Then, when the time comes, it will get a quick dip according to a meticulous process (it is the crucial soaking stage). A Denimhead would rather die than put his jeans in a machine. "I learn it a little every day, I know that I shall never know everything but I am never satisfied", a newcomer on Superdenim confesses. His/her absolute fantasy is the same as that of his/her buddies. The dreams is to walk one day in Levi's jeans dating all the way back to the beginning of the XXth century. Some pairs were preserved, and they weigh a lot. About 40 000 dollars on eBay.

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