A Denim Life Story
Mar 3, 2014

Premium jeans are expensive, there is no getting away from that. I am sure that most of us have the experience of friends and family thinking that we must be insane for paying so much money for a pair of jeans, “I don’t get it, they’re just jeans” is a phrase that I think most of us are familiar with after explaining to loved one that our latest purchase cost us upwards of $300. So why do we do it? How did we become part of this? Will we ever stop this seemingly crazy addiction? I think it helps to understand how each of us arrived here, how we all began on the path to exclusive and expensive denim. I will share my story and you might spot some similarities with your own.

I had always wanted to visit Japan, ever since being a little kid, so when the opportunity arrived back in 2005 I took it. Prior to visiting Japan I had considered myself to dress fairly well, I bought my jeans and shirts from places like H&M and thought they looked good and were well priced, by the time I had been in Japan a few days I realised that I dressed badly and knew absolutely nothing about clothing. Strangely, what made me realise this was a chance walk past the old Bathing Ape store in Harajuku when they featured a window display of some animatronics mannequins nodding in time to a heavy hip hop beat, all wearing the same fully zipped hoody baring a shark face that I recognised from old pictures of WW2 fighter planes. I thought that this was the coolest item of clothing I had ever seen and I had to own it, I was surprised to find that it cost over £200 (I’m English), but I was undeterred and bought a black one anyway. That was my beginning.

From there I looked over some other Bathing Ape clothing, but apart from the Skull Sta sneakers (based on Adidas shell toes), and some of the more “Planet Of The Apes” influence tees and military style shirts, nothing else much took my attention. From Bathing Ape I discovered Wtaps, who at the time were producing a huge range of urban orientated military style gear to a very high standard, Neighborhood, who made a range of extremely distressed biker style jeans and the eponymous New York skater label Supreme. I bought various items from all these brands, mainly second hand through forums and Yahoo.jp auctions but also on family holidays to New York and through friends I had who were teaching in Japan.

My first pairs of “quality” denim came from the Uniqlo Japanese selvedge line, Supreme and the Levis collaboration with Japanese label Fragment, mainly all street wear stuff, but it taught me valuable lessons about handling raw denim, I ruined the Fragment/ Levis by giving them a machine wash and spin without turning them inside out after only 3 or 4 wears. I quickly learned and the Uniqlo jeans became my favourite jeans for a while, I started to read more and more about quality denim and through this I discovered the Superfuture forum. I read every thread about every brand and every retailer that interested me for weeks before I made my first post, I studied the WAYWT threads to see what people were wearing and how they wore it. In those early days I was immediately impressed by two brands and two posters, the posters were Beatle and Beautiful Freak (both from Germany), and the brands were Sugar Cane and Samurai.

My first “real” foray into quality denim came with a pair of second hand Samurai 710xx, these were the jean I had liked the look of the most when I looked through the pages, I also bought some PBJ 007, some Sugar Cane Hawaii and some Oni Blue, but it was the Samurais which really interested me and lead to the formation of an idea. I bought myself a brand new pair of Samurai S5000VX 21oz and contacted Beatle about the idea which would become the Heavyweight Denim Championship.

The HWDC locked me into wearing the Samurais for 2 years, but through my friendship with Beatle I had been invited to the summer party of the other brand whose jeans were dominating the HWDC, Iron Heart. I thought it would be rude to go to their party without owning any of their clothes so I purchased a pair of 18oz Beatle Buster Raw and a hickory stripe western shirt to wear, I met Giles and Paula of Iron Heart UK and the founder and owner of Iron Heart Shinichi Haraki and had a great time. The welcome provided to me and my family left a real impression on me, it was obvious that the brand created a real sense of community both online through their extremely popular forum, and in person at their tireless public appearances and parties all over the globe.

So my brand loyalty switched to Iron Heart, and I fully invested myself in their products, their community and even travelled to New York for the Self Edge/ Iron Heart party in November 2012. I have made, and continue to make good friends through my interactions on the Iron Heart forum, more so than anywhere else in cyberspace. We meet in person, mail each other gifts, help each other out with proxies and trust one another like childhood friends or family members. A real hats off has to be given to Giles and Paula for creating a space where this level of trust, friendship camaraderie and love is created, it is unique within my experience and was fully responsible for me entering the world of quality denim and apparel retail myself.

At that first Iron Heart summer party back in 2011 I had a chance meeting with Jon who was also attending and was a moderator on the Iron Heart forum. Jon and I did not speak at length, but we met and recognised certain similarities within each other such as a love of literature, movies, computer games, quality apparel and a desire to do more than we currently were, this was the beginning of what would become NoKipple. We knew that there were many quality brands out there who were perhaps not getting the coverage and support that their products deserved in the Western market, so NoKipple was set up to bring these new brands into the market, promote them and to hopefully introduce western customers to things which were a little different from what was currently on offer.

The brands I now work with are a good amalgamation of my experiences in denim, I think I have learned through experience what makes a good and bad pair of jeans, and what people look for and like in the denim fabric. Currently on my own legs I wear a pair of Iron Heart Mega Beatle Busters through my working week (it was a huge honour to share billing on the jeans name with my old friend Beatle, especially for such a prestigious brand), whilst at the weekends I switch to my Trophy Garage Denim. The Trophy jeans are very, very different to the Iron Heart jeans and it gives me two distinctly different denim experiences, whilst my 25oz Iron Hearts have now softened to the point where they feel more like sweat pants than jeans, the Trophy jeans are definitely all denim. They are made from 14.5oz, loom state (Kibata) denim, which starts smooth and becomes rough to the touch after an initial hot soak or wash. I like the juxtaposition afforded to me by these two distinctly different wearing experiences.

Over the years I have had many favourite pairs of denim, and also quite a few disappointments, I won’t divulge my worst jeans I have ever owned as I may have had a bad pair or I simply may have been wrong, but my top 5 in no particular order are as follows…

1) Trophy Garage Denim
2) Iron Heart MBB’s
3) SExIH01BK
4) Trophy Dirt Denim
5) Samurai S5000VX 21oz

I’m always interested to hear other peoples denim life, so please do feel free to hit me up on any of the forums, Facebook or the comments section below to tell your story.

- Megatron1505

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