As Black Friday & Cyber Monday (BFCM) 2017 approached, we began to feel agitated. The deluge of deals, the barrage of bargains, the storm of sales were on the horizon. We began to salivate, we started to tap our feet, my god were we getting anxious with excitement! Multitudes of great deals were about to rain down on us over four glorious days. Let’s buy ALL THE THINGS!
Our wellbeing was diminishing due to stress and anxiety from considering the numerous deals on things we wanted, but didn’t actually need. The number of times we considered tapping the “Buy” button… This inspired us to try and challenge BFCM. We wanted to turn the entire idea on it’s head. As a result, we came up with the following phrase, which we’ll explore in this blog post.
– [B]uy less.
– [F]ix more.
– [C]reate stories.
– [M]ake it last.
1.24 billion pairs of jeans are sold annually, equating to a market of value 56.2 billion USD. (Source) This is a frightening statistic when you consider that the average jean consumes 3,781 litres of water during its entire lifecycle. (Source) Everyone simply needs to stop buy significantly less clothing. Whether a jean costs £5 or £500, it will roughly consume the same amount of water and electricity during it’s lifecycle. We need to stop thinking of jeans as cheap, disposable products. When a person sees a pair of jeans for £9.99 / $9.99, this reinforces the thinking that jeans are cheap and disposable. A person we recently met at a conference made us aware of a surprising insight. “Fast Fashion” may be perceived by some as a good thing, as it’s usually good to be fast. Maybe we need to start using another term? Waste Fashion? Trash Fashion? Junk Fashion?
We need challenge our buying habits. We recently discovered an article on The Guardian about the book “Curing Afflueza” by Richard Denniss. (Source) We really appreciate Denniss’ aim to break down the differences between Consumerism and Materialism. We’ve even decided to sell his book, hoping to change hearts and minds.
Luckily, there already are people who think daily about how to buy less, and buy better. Reddit has a channel called Buy It For Life, where people discover and discuss products that have proven they’re built for life. We’ve also recently discovered Tara Button’s website Buy Me Once, that curates BIFL products.
Image: Denim repair by Deverellsco (previously Darn & Dusted)
Denim is an interesting fabric, hobby and passion. Many people see a pair of jeans as a nothing more than a utility. It’s purpose: protect the lower half of your body, provide storage for items you carry regularly, and maybe look half-decent along the way. Beer and coffee were once both seen as utilities. Drink beer to become intoxicated. Drink coffee to become caffeinated. Yet, with the craft beer and coffee revolutions, people began to see these consumables in a different light. Beer and coffee evolved from utilities to hobbies. As people visited their local brewer or roaster, they connected with the makers, and their appreciation for the product increased. These days, you’d be surprised to walk into a bar without craft beer, or a coffee shop without craft coffee. Denim is similar in many ways to beer and coffee. Once a person connects with the maker of a pair of jeans (via their story, etc.), their appreciation for their jeans increases.
“Denimheads,” as they’re often called (I’m one), often keep the same pair of jeans for many years. They keep the same pair or two (ex: one indigo, one black) in rotation with the intention to wear them as much as humanly possible. It’s all about maximising the fades, whiskers, honeycombs, and overall patina. The jean becomes more than a utility. It becomes a hobby. Check out Reddit’s RawDenim channel for the beating heart of the community.
Of course, with all of this wear, comes the inevitable holes, rips and tears. After investing soo much time and effort into a pair of jeans, it’d be foolish to throw them away after the first sign of damage. With a bit of time and energy, you can give your jeans a second life. Repairing a garment with beautiful denim scraps can really add more to its personality. There’s also a movement happening on social media called #visiblemending. Browse the hashtag for some amazing garment repair inspiration.
We offer free repairs on our own jeans, but here are a few other businesses doing repairs:
LoveCashmere: UK-based wool garment repair! Such a great find…
Deverells Co. (Previously Darn & Dusted.) UK-based hand repairs for denim.
The Denim Doctor: UK-based denim repairs.
Soldier Blue: UK-based denim repairs.
Denim Repair Owati: Japan-based denim repairs.
Indigo Proof: US-based denim repairs.
Denim Therapy: US-based denim repairs.
Image: David’s Favourite Jeans
It’s an interesting exercise to hold an old garment and see what comes to mind. Often times you’ll find that stories from your past play out again in your mind as if they were just yesterday. As we experience life, we create stories. Those stories become woven into the clothes we wore while making them. We can’t think of any better non-scientific argument for why we should wear our clothes for as long as possible.
One story is associated with David’s Imperial X Self Edge jeans bought while living in Paris (in the photo above). David still remembers the day he received the jeans, opening the package while walking down Boulevard Voltaire. It was a hot August day, and his sister was soon to arrive in Paris for a month-long holiday. For some reason, this day is most strongly associated with these jeans. It might be due to the tragic event that would transpire at The Bataclan some years later. He wore these jeans the entire time he lived in Paris, and again in London. They’re still with him today, some eight years later, having had the pockets repaired, and being darned multiple times.
Another story revolves around a factory coat owned by one of the brands we work with. This coat was passed down by the father of the brand owners, and remains in the family still. It’s made of a beautiful tan canvas twill, and has been hand-darned and repaired many times over the years. It was worn at pretty much any major event in the family’s life, including painting the college dorm rooms when the brand owners were in college. The coat was manufactured right after WWII, and so the fabric had to be sourced from Russia. The tags still tell this story. We borrowed the coat to make a pattern from it, and this brought tears to the eyes of its owner.
MAKE IT LAST
Image: The World’s Oldest Pair of Levi’s Jeans, from 1879 (Source)
Jeans were meant to last. Denim was originally used as a material for tents. When Jacob W. Davis first invented the blue jean, he combined tent material with copper rivets: two things that people didn’t historically wear. This was because jeans were engineered to last. Waste/Trash/Junk Fashion makes jeans of lighter denim that wears out faster, using construction techniques that sacrifice quality. We aim to go against the flow, and make jeans of strong denims, that last longer, while pushing the quality bar as high as possible. We genuinely believe we’re making one of the best jeans on the entire planet.
Independent of how well your jeans are made, it requires care and attention to ensure they last as long as possible. A common misconception is that one needs to wait six months before washing their jeans for the first time. This simply isn’t true. We believe in washing your jeans as soon as you feel they need it. Make sure to check out our guide on how we hand wash or machine wash our own jeans: https://blackhorselane.com/washing-jeans-and-how-jeans-fade/
We also want to highlight two brands that we feel are market leaders in making things last.
Filson, a bag and clothing maker from Seattle, has a Restoration Department, where you can buy vintage Filson garments, made new and sold second hand.
Patagonia, an outdoor clothing maker from California, has the Worn Wear program, where you can buy second-hand Patagonia pieces. They also have vans that drive around, fixing old garments.
We aim to make our jeans last as long as possible, and look to these mavericks for inspiration.