The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by writer & photographer Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

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Issue 35; Not Just For Cowboys

From Levi to Lee, from Nudie to Neuw, there are hundreds of brands making the classic denim jean.  They have gone through changes over the years, the fits, the styles, the colours but all have something in common, denim.  The denim jean has gone away since it was invented and recently with a simpler thought on fashion and the desire to keep away from fast fashion, it is only right to go

This is not a journey of a pair of jeans, I have not bought jeans for a couple of years now, I was part of the fast fashion world and even popped, or is it squeezed? myself into a pair of skinny jeans.  Not spray on styles, I was never that obscene and thankfully for all our eyes the overly skinny jean is heading to the depths of fashion dungeons with the bell bottom. This is a look into the world of denim and the denim jeans.  A quick search on Instagram finds whole feeds of denim pictures, rugged and worn, or clean and crisp new selvage styles just out the shop.  Like many things there is an obsessive side to them, but I am not one, I just like the hard wearing nature of the cloth.  So why the article? To head into the new world of denim and show you some of the noteworthy companies doing it right and making sure you have a couple of pairs that last you a lifetime, or two.

The denim jean never went away but somehow had a resurgence with the hipster generation, the beards, the beanies, the check shirts and the turn up.  You could spot the look from a mobile away and it is still there out in the jungle of the world.  I was never a hipster, my beard game is weak for a start and my coffee art just doesn’t get attempted so the two main criteria are over already I wouldn’t get through the door at hipster school.  But they helped my grungy arse out of bootleg ripped up hems and into slim fitting turned up hard wearing denim.  The skinny jeans came later and have gone to the bottom of the wardrobe waiting for that fateful day that I pull them out in thirty years and remember that I used to look like a tit.  But the slim jeans I have had for years are wearing just fine, they are actually all from Next but were from a top quality denim stock at the time.  They will wear quicker than higher end jeans and a few years they will be only good for rags and Sunday afternoons.  So where do you go from here? How to stay away from fast fashion?

You go sustainable, you go local (ish), you support a community and you get quality and there are a few
brands that do this and I will discuss two right here.  If you are, like me, based in the United Kingdom you will be delighted by the factory up the road in Cardigan, Wales.  This lovely riverside town used to produce 35,000 pairs of jeans a week, every-week, then fast fashion happened I guess and cheaper labour and the factory just stopped.  But when Mr. David Hieatt moved back to his home town he began and old trade and brought denim production back to Cardigan with the Hiut Denim Co which after a smaller beginning now occupies the old factory and produces a limited run of high quality premium denim jeans.  With two styles of denim,
Selvedge and Organic they create jeans to last, even with a repair service where you send them back to be mended at the factory.  They are made for you and have a real lead time, with a few different styles to match all denim head styles.  They are not aiming for the numbers of old and the company premise is all about the community of Cardigan.

If you fancy more of a store experience even in these pandemic days then you can’t go wrong with Nudie Jeans.  The company is about sustainability and the step away from the world of fast fashion, something I did at the beginning of 2020.  They make jeans to last, from organic cotton based denim, you can buy worn jeans from a used section and also bring your Nudie jeans in for repair or to be recycled and used in the production of new jeans.  It is a circle of life that just keeps on spinning and this is the future of clothing.  They say on their website that their clothes are for long term not just to throw away and the whole ethos really shows this.   I am not one to buy second hand anything, and jeans would be a no as I find the wearing and breaking in of new raw denim with no special wash such a nice thing, and feel it is lazy to get someone else to do it, but each to their own ways.  And even though not washing them for the first six months seems like a stretch, it is something I will happily try with my next purchase from one of these amazing places.

My view heads more towards Hiut due to its base, even though the denim is from elsewhere I feel UK manufacturing is a way to go.  With Nudie products being made in various locations before hitting the shelves.   But whatever your choices, spend more and buy something to last and your bank balance and your style will thank you and one thing can be certain, denim jeans will never go out of fashion.