Q&A with Jake @almostvintagestyle
Earlier this year, I started noticing these really cool pictures on Instagram of a dude wearing beautiful Engineer boots and unsanforized selvedge denim jeans with some decent-sized turn-ups. Clearly a true blue blood.
But it wasn’t until I started reaching for the post about must-follow Instagrammers from LA that I got to know the man behind the pictures. I learned he has his own blog, and that denim is actually his least favourite part of his style! ? (He’s way more into his boots and leather gear!)
His name is Jake, and this is his story.
What’s your story?
Birth year: 1991
Location: Orange County, California
Profession: Marketing, drummer
I’m currently engaged to my girlfriend of over 10 years who helps enable my denim and boot hobby. I have younger brother and sister and am currently corrupting my brother into being a denimhead ?
My hobbies include writing my own denim blog, watching story-based TV series, anime and movies, and writing my own original fiction novels which I hope to release soon.
Jake’s Instagram Routines and Goals
Thomas: How did it all start with your Instagram feed?
Jake: My fiancée, Alee (@atthealee) started posting on the platform in January of 2017. After seeing how many denimheads were on the platform, including several people that I knew from denim forums, I decided to join as well.
I posted fairly infrequently and didn’t get serious about it until September of 2017 when I purchased my camera.
T: Why Instagram? What are your goals?
J: Instagram is fun because it’s less serious and more relaxed than forums which, while extremely informative, are rather unpleasant at times. It’s great to have a way to take a break from the forums while still indulging in my denim and workwear hobby.
Since joining Instagram, I’ve found a greater interest in photography itself, and I love that focus of the app. But the most important aspect of the platform is the fact that it has fostered so many friendships for me.
There are so many great people that I now consider friends that I met on Instagram, including the amazing @ladenimhangs crew. These guys welcomed me with open arms and we have hung out countless times in real life now, something I never expected when joining this platform.
My only real goals are to continue learning and to promote my denim blog as much as possible.
Hand-picked related post: Must-Follow Instagrammers: The LADenimHangs Crew
T: What’s the story of your username?
J: I dress in a more classic manner compared to the majority of people on Instagram. My love for this type of clothing was originally born out of my love for history, an obsession with Western films, and an interest in late 18th-mid 19th century clothing.
However, I only own one actual vintage piece and, I’m not a vintage expert or collector, hence the name ‘Almost Vintage.’ It’s a reference to the Shel Silverstein poem ‘Almost Perfect.’ I added ‘Style’ on because, to me, style is an extremely important part of this type of clothing that people often overlook. You need to consider the entire outfit.
To this end, I follow people and watch Youtube channels that have nothing to do with this community such as @Sangiev and @thejobrien just to see what’s going on in the fashion and style world outside our own.
I also follow @rivet_head to see how people wore this type of clothing originally. I get the greatest inspiration from the members of this community who put together amazing outfits with this type of clothing including @johnbbrooklyn, @davitosworld, @migigp, @sundays_snaps, @duke_mantee, @evanhasdryboots, @illcutz, and @newenglandmenswear.
T: How much time do you spend on Instagram on a daily basis?
J: Probably two hours a day, sometimes more. I only post once a day, but it takes quite a while to keep up to date on everyone I follow, and there are a lot of people that I enjoy talking to on the platform.
T: Do you make it a priority to post on a regular schedule?
J: I post almost every day. There are some days where I am just too tired to do so, but I try to keep in the habit of posting once a day.
T: Which tools do you use?
J: Since around September of 2017, all my pictures have been taken with my Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 56mm f1.2 and Fujinon 16mm f1.4 lenses. I absolutely love this camera system and the brilliantly designed lenses allow me to still claim to be a bokeh whore even with an APS-C system.
Just asked yourself what the heck a ‘bokeh whore’ is? So did I ?
According to Photography Life, ‘bokeh,’ also known as ‘boke,’ is Japanese for ‘blur.’ It’s all about creating depth in the image, usually by making the background out of focus.
Recently, I’ve begun editing all of my fiancée’s and my own pictures on Adobe Lightroom with RAW files and have noticed a drastic improvement from the JPEG images through Snapseed that I utilized before. That said, if you use a phone or shoot JPEG, Snapseed is a pretty great app.
T: How and where do you take your photos?
J: I use my camera for all of my pictures. My fiancée is also an Instagrammer (and is way bigger than I am) so I take all of her pictures. We simply take our pictures together. When I go to take hers, she takes mine afterward.
We live in suburbia and, as a result, generally have to go places to take our pictures. So we mostly take them on weekends, though we sometimes do take them on weekdays after work. It’s a great system and we have a lot of fun sharing this hobby together. The product shots and flatlays I take myself at home.
T: What’s your editorial flow?
J: My fiancée is a much bigger and more important Instagrammer than I am, so my flow is really just dictated by her needs, which is perfectly fine with me. Despite where we live, it really isn’t all that hard to find decent locations to take pictures of boots, and I am terrible at posing, so it doesn’t matter too much where I am ?
We do tend to plan out certain important shoots, and we always set aside time every week to take pictures. But our choice of location is often quite spontaneous and we have several regular spots that we use often.
In the beginning, I looked through denim Instagram accounts and found ideas for shots. For the most part, my pictures are not all that original and I have no problem admitting that. Most of my coolest and most unique shots are interesting and unique angles that Alee discovers while taking my pictures. She’s been getting pretty good at it lately.
T: What are your favourite locations to take photos? And why?
J: My favorite place is definitely on piers at the beach. These do not always get the most likes, but they are definitely my favorite shots.
Where we live isn’t really industrial enough to have rugged, derelict places to take pictures. We would have to drive to LA for that, and we have done so on occasion. This means the beach is really the only cool/unique place to take pictures that is convenient.
T: Do you repost?
J: I have not reposted and I don’t plan on doing so in the future. I think I may have reposted on my stories once or twice, however.
Jake’s Style and Denim Preferences
T: How did you get into raw denim?
J: My love of Western films and classic clothing got me interested in high-end hats and leather jackets. Through researching leather jackets, I discovered engineer boots and immediately fell in love. Researching engineer boots led me to discovering raw denim.
I purchased my first pairs of Naked & Famous jeans and then moved onto Japanese brands such as Momotaro and Pure Blue Japan. The further into the hobby, the more vintage I went.
Today, I mostly have very classic style clothing from brands such as Freewheelers, Conner’s Sewing Factory, The Flat Head, Stevenson Overall Co., Himel Bros, Clinch, John Lofgren, Role Club, Roy, and Michael Masterson.
Denim itself is my least favorite part of this clothing style. If it weren’t for Conner’s Sewing Factory being so incredible and inspiring, denim would be a complete afterthought for me as it used to be. I find boots, leather jackets, shirts, and even T-shirts more interesting than jeans.
T: What is your favourite feature of jeans?
J: Passion and dedication are what I really look for in a pair of jeans. These traits are what I look for in leather jackets, boots, and shirts as well. I have found that the owners, makers, and designers that have the greatest passion and dedication to be the very best make the best products.
T: How do you wash your denim?
J: I haven’t bought sanforized denim for years and don’t plan to do so in the future. Therefore, I generally have to do an initial soak.
I like to keep my denim as dark as possible for as long as possible. When they get dirty, I will soak them and occasionally agitate them with some Woolite Dark. But I never do true machine washes with my jeans.
T: What’s your favourite fit? And what’s your least favourite fit?
J: Unlike most people on Instagram, I love classic fits. I used to wear slim and skinny cuts, but now I wear straight and classic fits pretty much exclusively.
Not only does it look more classic, they’re more comfortable, easier to tuck shirts into, and look better with the types of boots that I wear.
Skinny fits look good on some people, but I universally dislike low rises.
T: Which boots and leather goods do you wear with your denim?
J: I own boots from Clinch by Brass Tokyo, Role Club, John Lofgren, Moto Japan, Wesco, Carmina, and Red Wing.
I also recently got have a pair of White Kloud boots. These were incredibly difficult to obtain. Purchasing them has involved a two year waiting period and a mandatory visit to the workshop, but the boots are made entirely by one master bootmaker and I am incredibly excited to receive them.
My leather jackets are from Himel Bros, Freewheelers, and The Real McCoy’s.
Additionally, I own leather bracelets and belts from Wild Frontier Goods, Pigeon Tree Crafting, Hollows Leather, and JCLeatherworks. My wallets are from Mill Handmade, The Flat Head, and Wild Frontier Goods.
T: Which sneakers do you wear?
J: My sneaker collection includes a pair each from Real Japan Blues, The Flat Head, John Lofgren x Self Edge, John Lofgren x Standard and Strange x TSPTR (above), PF Flyers Made in Japan, and PF Flyers Made in USA.
I also still have some beat-up old Vans that I refuse to get rid of because of nostalgia ?
T: Favourite item you own that’s not denim or leather?
J: Probably my glasses and sunglasses. I absolutely adore sunglasses and wear them even when it is cloudy outside. I do not walk outside without sunglasses on unless the sun has completely set.
I own pairs from Oliver People Japan, Oliver Peoples Italy, and Globe Specs. An honorable mention goes to my Fuji camera and lenses, and my Tatton Baird beaver fur hat (the one below).
T: Where do you buy your gear?
J: A large number of brands that I buy from are available directly from the makers themselves, so I tend to use email or DM through Instagram for the majority of my purchases.
Otherwise, most of my purchases are made online through Standard & Strange, Okayama Denim, CoRLection, Self Edge, Rivet and Hide, and many more. My Freewheelers items are purchased through Japanese websites such as Genco Clothing and Mirror Ball.
I’m also fortunate enough to have several stores in my area that I have purchased from including Self Edge, Mister Freedom, Freenote Cloth, Railcar Fine Goods, and Snake Oil Provisions.
T: What styling tips would you give to your followers?
J: Don’t be afraid to try something different, especially if you really like it. I personally feel that we could use more variety in this subculture. Just because most pictures in this community are of denim and boots that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear mostly chinos or sneakers if you prefer those.
On a similar note, don’t take this too seriously. At the end of the day, this should be fun and not a job.
Most importantly, make sure to interact with everyone in the community. This is an incredibly awesome and friendly group of people overall. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, send DMs, and reply to stories. You will be surprised by the great conversations you have and relationships you create in this way.