Q&A with Mike CCH aka @indigoshrimp
Name: Mike CCH
Birth year: 1988
Profession: Medical doctor
The Story of Indigoshrimp and Mike’s Instagram Routines
Thomas: How did it all start with your Instagram feed?
Mike: I had been active on my Indigoshrimp blog and the denim forums since 2007, and for a few years, I really enjoyed being part of the forum communities.
I would consider myself to be perhaps part of the second wave of Japanese denim enthusiasts in Western nations; guys with a love of Japanese denim who were not necessarily interested in pure Americana or collecting vintage.
The community was built on the back of Japanese streetwear enthusiasts who gradually ‘discovered’ Japanese denim – these guys moved onto newer trends after a couple of years, but they left behind a small but dedicated community of denim heads.
After some years, however, I burnt out from this hobby, due to a variety of factors. Don’t get me wrong, my love for denim and work style never left, I simply grew tired of social media after a while and had many competing priorities in my personal and work lives at that point.
I remember there also being much fighting and gate-keeping within our community during that time, and, to be honest, not everyone in the hobby or industry were very nice to be around.
So, I decided to take a break from clothing-related hobbies for a few years. It was in 2012 that I took a long holiday from the digital side of this hobby – my blog and my internet presence went into hiatus.
However, in 2016, as I was browsing some Japanese denim catalogues from years past, my passion for our hobby was lit once again. So, I returned to the denim communities and started to catch up on the latest developments.
I found many of the old denim blogs dead, much like my own, and the participation on older community platforms such as Superfuture’s Superdenim to have dropped very significantly. Yet, new communities and platforms had arisen in the denim world, reddit and Instagram chief among them – I sensed that our hobby was very much alive, and in fact had grown and widened in a manner, which I did not expect.
In starting to blog again, I was looking for a platform that could integrate with my blog, but also connect me with the denim community in a much more immediate and interactive way, and Instagram seemed like the perfect tool. It was then I arrived late to the platform, in 2016.
T: Why Instagram? What are your goals?
M: I was attracted Instagram due to its utility in networking and communication, for which traditional blog platforms were lacking. Instagram is also much more compartmentalised compared with the old forums, and thus it is much easier to filter out people or content with which I would not want to connect.
My goals are to keep up-to-date with brands and makers, as well as keeping in touch with like-minded hobbyists.
It would seem to me that many of the modern platforms, including Instagram, are much more individualistic, superficial and transient compared with older ways of networking and sharing in the denim world. So, I will continue to write on my blog – it serves as a personal journal in some ways, and allows me to take some snapshots of our denim hobby, from my own perspective, across time.
T: How much time do you spend on Instagram on a daily basis?
M: Perhaps 30 minutes or so. Up to an hour if there are active and important discussions in my chats.
T: How do you take your photos?
M: Mostly by myself.
T: Which tools do you use?
M: Olympus Pen Mini camera with macro and wide-angles lenses, Sony RX100 V camera, and Pixel 2 phone.
T: What’s your editorial flow?
M: My feed is not planned at all, and is mostly a by-product of any blog reviews or articles I happen to be writing at the time.
My Instagram account is not monetised, nor meant to be a professional product, so there is no strict schedule or protocol with my flow. I try to keep my photo gallery hobby-focused, and share more of my private life in my ‘stories’.
T: What are your favourite locations to take photos? And why?
M: Around my home. With work and family commitments, I usually do not have time to seek out nicer photography locations. I also tend to focus on small details, and usually then, the location does not matter too much as long as there is adequate light.
For photos of leather goods or workwear accessories, however, I do like to seek out interesting or organic surfaces to serve as background for photos.
How Mike Got Into Denim
T: How did you get into denim?
M: I remember my very first denim was a pair of Oshkosh overalls when I was very young. In my early school years, my mother bought me my first pair of ‘nice pants’ – a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans. These were perhaps my earliest memories with denim.
In my teenage years, when I could choose my own pants, I started wearing Roberto Cavalli jeans. I thought, at the time, that these outrageous Italian denims would help me be more successful with the girls.
By chance, however, I came across some Edwin Japan jeans, and they were unlike any other jeans I had worn in my life. The denim was thick, unwashed, rugged and intensely textural. The cut was much wider than I was accustomed to but much more masculine. These Edwin Blue Trip and SEN jeans spoke to me in a way no Italian or American jeans ever have.
After doing some research online, I became a big fan of jeans made by Sugar Cane, owning a few pairs from their Satobiki line. The SC40300, hank dyed with 100% natural indigo from Ryukyu, were my first pair of truly high-end Japanese jeans – I still have this pair in storage, in fact.
I remember some of my other earlier purchases included jeans from brands such as Eternal, Samurai and Studio D’Artisan. At the early stages of my hobby, though, my interests were very much limited to jeans only, and did not extend to leathers or jackets or boots. I was young, very fit, and liked to run around in tank-tops and D&G shoes … again, very much dressing for the opposite sex, though the denim was becoming something just for me.
In retrospect, pure reproductions from the so-called Osaka Five group of jeans makers did not truly resonate with me. Of course, like most hobbyists back in the 2000s, I went through strict reproduction and also military reproduction phases of the heritage-wear hobby. But these styles did not stick for me. However, in studying the history of work and military clothes, my appreciation of garments and leathers had grown, and my exploration of these various clothing styles has informed the current state of my denim hobby.
T: What’s your favourite feature of jeans?
M: I love how this relatively simple garment has the ability to resonate with so many different people across the world, and my favourite jeans have always been those which combine Americana with inspirations from another culture.
Literally speaking, the most important aspect of jeans, for me, is the denim itself. The denim needs to be a star on its own – the appearance of the warp grain, the hand feel, the dyes – I need a denim has certain star qualities which will hold my interest.
T: How do you wash your denim?
M: I wash my denim like I would most of my cotton clothes: with natural detergents, around 40 degrees celsius, in a washing machine.
Shade drying is my favourite way to finish. If I need to shrink the jeans a little, however, I would not hesitate to throw a pair into the dryer.
T: What’s your favourite denim brand?
Oni Denim had always been one brand which I would consistently watch on Rakuten, but I had never purchased many pairs in the past as their fits were much too loose for my liking.
In the past few years, however, Oni has modernised its jeans. Now, with a great combination of boundary pushing fabrics and nicely fitted tapered cuts, Oni Denim has become one of my default options. Sometimes I wish they still kept the vintage-style of sewing on their jeans though.
Tanuki Inc. is a very new brand, perhaps, fourth wave Japanese denim? The brand, currently, ticks most of the boxes for me out of all the jeans makers: Custom developed high-end fabrics. Vintage-style sewing finished in sleek modern aesthetic. Premium detailing, including deerskin patch and 100% custom hardware. Minimalist appearance with no arcs. Modern cuts that fit a more developed physique and flatters the lines of the body (rather than hiding it).
Tanuki might be new, but they are absolutely slaying.
T: What’s your favourite fit? And why?
M: The high tapered cuts from both Tanuki and Oni are my current favourites. I do enjoy similar cuts from other Japanese makers too, but they have mostly not optimised this type of fit just yet.
I enjoy these due to my unusual build for someone of East Asian descent, being taller and thicker, so a high-waisted tapered cut provides good comfort whilst maintaining fitted silhouettes.
Further, most people I know in real life tell me I look much better in high tapered jeans rather than vintage-style straight jeans, and I tend to agree.
On a side note, I also love a good boot cut, but as they are not in vogue, none of my favourite makers have made any good ones recently.
T: Which boots and leather goods do you wear with your denim?
M: I write many leather goods and boots reviews on my Indigoshrimp blog, so I am always testing belts, wallets and boots from different makers. The side-effect of being a blogger is that I can never stick with any particular garment or accessory for very long, before having to move onto the next piece.
Generally speaking, I prefer work-style wallets and belts, but occasionally dabble in Western-style belts too, mostly hand-tooled and hand-carved ones. Work-style leather goods are made out of thick, vegetable-tanned leathers, built for durability and practical use, to outlast several pairs of jeans. The Japanese were the modern masters of this style, but increasingly new leather craftspeople in Western cultures are reclaiming this type of leather craft.
Certainly, since the beginning of my blog, I’ve been steering denimheads away from Japanese factory-produced leather goods towards one-man workshop crafts. For leather goods, it is, without doubt, best to custom a private artisan.
For shoes and boots I am torn between mid-century Americana and the English style of country footwear. However, as my lifestyle has become much more physically active over the past two years, with a return to resistance training and walking as a hobby, I am wearing sneakers more and more nowadays.
T: Which sneakers do you wear?
M: Onitsuka Tiger and Nike Air Force. These were my childhood sneakers, and they evoke fond memories.
T: Favourite item that’s not denim or leather?
M: This would be a tight contest between vests and work-style trousers.
I really enjoy sashiko vests in the warmer months and Beach cloth vests when the weather cools down.
In terms of trousers, I love heavy corduroy as well as salt ‘n’ pepper twills.
Stifel style indigo twills, or wabash, is another favourite, but only if the discharge printing is fun!
T: Where do you buy your gear?
For leather goods, I prefer to support private craftspeople rather than purchase from shops.
T: What styling tips would you give your followers if they wanted your style?
M: I am a little more eclectic in approach compared to other hardcore denimheads.
Why not mix things up a little – include fabrics and dyes from different cultures, combine details from different time periods, maybe take some inspiration from modern pop-culture too – don’t wear denim like an uniform.
Some of my default combos are below:
- Henley shirt (tucked) + Beach/sashiko vest + heavy work belt + heavy twill trousers + English country boots
- Flannel shirt (untucked) + loopwheeled T-shirt + belt with statement buckle + denim jeans + American-style work boots
- Chambray shirt (tucked) + duck canvas vest + narrow work belt + cinch-back work trousers + mid-century style work shoes
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