This Blue Blooded Q&A series is a collaboration with Long John.
Get to know Matthew Wilson, a face from the Blue Blooded Portfolio
Matt and I go back. Way back. He was one of the first guest writers for Denimhunters (in 2013), and for a couple of years, we were business partners, running this site together.
Today, Denimhunters is all me, and Matt does Rope Dye and Cee.Are.Dee (together with Daniel Werner). He’s made a successful career running a YouTube vlog, organising trade shows (Selvedge Run and SEEK), and as a creative consultant.
Through it all, we’ve stayed good friends, and I’m very happy to share his story in his Blue Blooded Q&A.
What’s your story?
I am originally from Scotland but live in Berlin, Germany.
I run a creative service and consulting agency with Daniel Padilla Werner.
Matt’s path into the denim business
T: What was your first pair of jeans?
M: The first that I remember was a pair of Wranglers that my mum got me when I was about 8 or so. She’d probably got them in the local farm supply store or one of the factory outlets. She was quite the typical Scottish mum, always looking for a bargain.
I don’t remember very much about them to be honest but I do remember being quite upset when the knees went white and eventually ripped. Ironic, I know, as nowadays I would see this as a sick fade.
My first proper pair of selvedge denim jeans was a pair of Nudie Average Joes that I picked up in a TK Maxx in Berlin. I obviously inherited the thrifty gene.
I wore those things for 18 months straight with no washes or soaks (aside from a couple of times I was caught in the rain) and over four continents. When I got back from an extended stint in Turkey, my old flatmate told me it was either wash the jeans or move out… so in the tub, they went.
Seeing the bathwater was enough to convince me that the no-wash policy was not a good one. They still remain the best-faded pair of jeans I’ve ever worn though.
T: When did you know you were ‘hooked’ on raw denim?
M: It must have been quite soon after I found my first piece of raw denim, an Evisu jacket. This was also a TK Maxx find. You can’t fight your genetics.
I was just filing through the rails as you do when you are in TK Maxx. I knew the Evisu brand from back in the day and to be honest, had a pretty negative association with it. In Scotland, it was a brand worn by the N.E.D’s (Non-Educated Delinquents) and all of the history and cultural significance didn’t make it as far as Edinburgh in the early 2000s.
But as soon as I put my hands on it, I could feel there was something different about the material. It wasn’t denim as I had experienced it before. The crispness, the weight, the deep indigo tone.
Compared to what I was used to paying for clothing, it was quite expensive at 80 euros (I know, I know, things have certainly changed). I hummed and hawed a long time but eventually, I thought, ‘why not’ and treated myself.
The hangtags had a load of marketing material and blurb about raw denim and selvedge denim. I read this and was engrossed. I learned everything I could about it and was drawn permanently into the world of denim.
Funnily enough, the jacket was not really all that special in terms of raw denim. Yeah, it was Evisu, but the international brand and had nothing to do with Japan. It was made in China out of presumably Chinese made denim (not slamming Chinese made here, just to be clear).
But the cut, quality and detailing is right up there with the best of them. It was clearly designed by a denimhead and is one of the best contemporary twists on a Type I jacket I’ve ever come across.
T: What is your favourite thing about raw denim?
M: Ooft, this is a hard one to answer. Unlike many denimheads, it is not the ability it has to fade or the narrative you put into your garment. It goes a little parallel to that, there is a cultural narrative to denim and I find this fascinating.
As a fabric, and with the blue jean as an extension to this, it has been there for so many cultural and historical shifts. It has an arc that I believe is unique in terms of fashion or maybe even clothing in general.
I have this hair-brained theory that in the development of any product, there’s a stage where it reaches a point of perfection. Whatever it might be can’t get any better. You reach an archetype. Or maybe Platonic eidos would be a better way to put it. Denim might just be that for fabric. At least so far.
Matt’s views on the denim business
T: What‘s been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far, and what did you learn from it?
M: Hmm, in terms of life or in terms of denim?
In life, it was getting meningitis (or some other nasty brain thing) in Asia back in 2018. This was a rough ride and a long road to recovery. It taught me to never eat a meal on a train in Asia and reinforced how important, no essential, my friends are.
Wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the quick thinking of Mr Daniel Padilla Werner and would not be at the stage of recovery I am now without the help, patience and support from a long list of people. You know who you are.
In terms of denim, it was a pair of 22 oz. Steel Feather jeans. I learned that unsanforized denim should never be mixed with a zip fly or a slim cut. And also that heavy denim is really NOT my thing.
T: Which denim brands inspire you? And why?
M: More with the impossible questions, haha. This will take a while.
Benzak Denim Developers because the founder Lenn is such a good friend and I have seen the work and dedication he has put into his brand.
Endrime because Mohsin pushes our expectation and views on what can be done with denim and that he is so open with his knowledge and designs.
Freenote Cloth for the vibe the brand manages to exude.
3sixteen because of their ability to translate selvedge denim into a contemporary context and interpret the inherent qualities of selvedge denim into all the pieces in their collection.
Left Field NYC because they are pure East Coast grit.
Eat Dust, Indigofera, shit this list could be endless … Okay, I need to stop.
T: Which denim retailers inspire you? And why?
Stuff Fine Goods must have one of the best selections of denim and clothing in general. Everything in the store you just WANT to have.
Tenue de Nîmes I just find inspiring on every level. What Menno and the rest of the guys at TdN have managed to do in terms of selection, store vibe, store look and feel and community is truly amazing. I also really respect the fact that they have taken the “brand” that was the store and created a clothing brand from their core values.
Burg & Schild is my local denim store and they are incredible at supporting and fostering the denim community in and around Berlin.
Last but not least, DC4, this is THE place to see some really unique Japanese denim and the owner Daniel is an encyclopedia of denim knowledge and stories from the early years of quality denim hitting Europe.
Matt defines his denim style
T: What do you never leave home without? And why?
M: I have three rings that I seldom leave home without. Two are from Fine Light Trading. The third was made by 877 Workshop in Hamburg. This is a signet ring that carries our company logo. Both Daniel and I have one.
I like the idea that these rings are something that I could literally wear every day for a lifetime and hand down to my children. They are also big, heavy and if they fall off I notice it immediately. This is the main reason why I’ve not lost them over the last 7 years. Gingerly knocks on wood.
T: List 3 of your favourite garments or accessories and (try to) explain how they define your style
M: 1) Well. Number one, the rings I mentioned above. They are a bit of a contradiction style-wise, and I love that. Yeah, the size is practical in terms of keeping the things on my fingers long term, but they are also bold, brash and kinda impractical.
They go with nothing so they go with everything. They are a great conversation starter but people tend to assume certain things about me along with that. I dunno really. I have had them for so long now that they are just part of my style and not really a definition of it.
2) Number 2 has to be hats. And not just one—well, one at a time, most of the time—but a variety of different styles depending on my mood, weather and whatever it is I’m about to get up to.
Men should start wearing proper hats again and wearing them well. If you see a man wearing a hat well, you know, that he knows. And I want to be part of that. Sometimes I fuck it up though. Which is also important style-wise.
3) Last but not least is the Left Field NYC x Vanson Commando leather jacket. In my eyes, it is just the perfect leather jacket.
Like the rings, it’s big and heavy. Bold, brash and kinda impractical. But is fucking cool and when the zombie apocalypse comes, nothing is biting through that thing!
Need help with your denim business?
Want to learn more about Matt? This Blue Blooded Q&A is a collaboration with Long John. Read his answers to the 10 ‘what’s your favourite’ questions at long-john.nl.
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