Denimopedia: Jeans do have a memory

In spring and summer of 1996 a group of terrorist troubled the people of Spokane, Washington. They performed bank robberies to finance their actions. On the hit that would be their last, one clear image of one of the suspects, caught on the bank’s CCTV footage, became the evidence that would take the whole gang down. Even though the suspects made sure to cover their faces with ski masks to keep the police guessing, they forgot one little detail; their clothes, and particularly their denim.

For those of you who wear dry denim it’s no secret that the time you spend in your jeans will eventually show. A person’s denim tells us a lot about who they are, what they do and where they’ve been. Every pair of denim becomes a fingerprint of the person wearing them. This caught Dr. Richard Vorder Bruegge of the FBI’s attention when he analyzed the CCTV footage. The way a person wear and wash their jeans, the atari created on the bottom hem, on the side seams, and on the back of the knee, were all characteristics that could tie a pair of jeans to this crime rather than actual fingerprints or DNA. When searching the homes of the four suspects, they found the pair the CCTV footage and the suspects were brought to trial and convicted.

This showed that the physique of the suspect and the wear proved to be evidence enough to put the bad guys in the slammer, but during the investigation, Bruegge also discovered that one person’s denim would reveal a lot more. You could also trace the history of the denim back to the person who made the jeans. By analyzing wear patterns on the worn and washed denim, he found that every step of the process makes every pair jeans more unique. The way a craftsman cuts the pieces, pushes the fabric through the sewing machine and sets the rivets, could tie a pair of jeans to a specific manufacturing facility, and even a specific person. Most denim is sewn by hand by real people which makes it’s virtually impossible to make two pairs exactly the same.

When buying a pair of drys, we often forget the people making the jeans. We see the dry denim as a blank page, waiting to be filled with our own stories and memories. Claiming that a pair of jeans has no memory couldn’t be further from the truth. The jeans in the Spokane case were worn, loved and cared for by a person. And even though, he might have had questionable motifs, he loved his denim and let them tell his story, but through this wear, the denim also told the story about the person making the jeans, showing us that each pair is a fingerprint, and the appearance of a pair of jeans is a unique collaboration between, fabric, maker and the person wearing the jeans.

This is something to ponder as you start your next break-in project after the summer. Also remember to stay out of trouble.

User Stories: Mitchell Fong

Thin Finn Worn by Mitchell for 5 years, 3 washes.

“I bought my Thin Finns around September of 2009. I love that they're like a part of me. I've had them so long they fit so well. Its almost like a time capsule as you can see the fades over the years and all the memories in the jeans. I pretty much wore them every day for 2 years, it was kind of second nature to just throw them on in the morning. I think the secret is to be patient and just wait out the first wash, and learn to love your fades and rips. I've washed them 3 times. Hardest part was getting my mom to not wash them the first year and a half. I've got a blood stain on my right thigh from basement boxing my friend...which is always a good idea right? I get quite a lot of comments and compliments on their current condition. I guess people are pretty impressed with the fades and repairs that have gone into these Thin Finns. I hope they hold up forever.”

In Our Heads: Ruedi “Swiss Jeans Freak” Karrer

You love denim, but we can assure you; you do not love denim the way Ruedi Karrer does. Under the moniker Swiss Jeans Freak, Ruedi dips his fingers in everything that has to do with the Bleu de Genes.

“I was born September 8th, 1959, in a remote mountain village in the Swiss alps with 9 brothers and sisters. I'm a complete raw denim addict since my childhood when the first Levis 501 Big E raw denim jeans reached our family place in a clothes donation parcel. I started the jeans museum in 1973 and today it contains 12.000 jeans and jackets from 1950 up until today. I love the natural denim evolution if worn hard over years without any washing and watching the process of fadings. Especially the denim evolutions seen on green or yellow cast denim.

I work part time as a geographer, creating maps, checking data on water management and risk, flood management and other topics concerning water for the Zürich city council. The rest of my time I spend building up a little jeans museum of the heaviest fadings to show people the power of denim evolution. Ensuring that the raw denim spirit shall be kept alive forever.

I hope to get one step further with the jeans museum of heaviest fadings, with inventory, taking pictures, build a database and finally a website in english. I plan to build up a proper museum and change from this one-man operation into something bigger. In the long term, I plan a worldwide center of denim evolution, a safe home for as many rescued, retired and well loved raw denim projects as possible, and they shall receive eternal life there.”

If you want to know more, or donate a well-loved pair of denim, visit the Jeans Museum!

Follow Ruedi on Twitter & Instagram!

We Love Screaming Females

Screaming Females are a three-piece punk band from New Brunswick, New Jersey and easily one of the most explosive bands on the touring circuit today. They appeared at Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary at the hand of guest curator Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julie Ruin, etc) and although Hanna was unable to attend the festival because of a medical condition, Screaming Females upheld their punk rock ethos. We caught up with lead singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster before their Thursday evening performance to talk about touring with Jack White and how her incredibly intricate artwork ties in with the bands aesthetic.

What was the catalyst in transitioning from doing DIY tours to touring successfully as a band?

– We started out touring playing house shows, using contacts we made from putting on shows in New Brunswick for other bands and calling in favors, sort of like a barter system. But we finally got a booking agent in 2009 when Jack White asked us to open for his band The Dead Weather on a tour. We had never really played shows like that before. We were playing for like +3000 people and it was really intense.

Screaming Females recently released Live At The Hideout but you didn’t do much touring behind it. What are your plans next?

– Our new album is done. We did it with this guy named Matt Bayles (Isis, Botch, Mastodon) in Seattle. Matt also played keyboards in Minus The Bear but is more widely known as a metal guy. Now I am just working on the art for it. It’s kind of a slow burn but because we are an older band we have the luxury of being able to sit down and plan out stuff way ahead of time.

Tell us more about your art. Does it tie in to the music or do you keep them separate?

– There is no way the two things can be separated. I’m not a mystic and can’t split myself in two. Everything that comes out of me must be inherently connected. I use a lot of text in my artwork that sometimes turns into lyrical content. Coming up with album cover ideas or even t-shirt designs, that stuff doesn’t just pop in to your head. You have to do a bunch of sketches, talk about ideas and go look at other people’s art.

Do you do ever show your stuff at art galleries?

– Once in a while I do. Right now I have a limited edition print of lithographs of a really big drawing I did and it’s for sale on my website. I am working on a new little zine too. Screaming Females takes up most of my time but I probably get most of my drawing done when we are on the road.

Screaming Females can be found online here. You should also order their live album Live At The Hideout from Don Giovanni Records here.

Photo and words: Glenn Alderson

Sled Island Day 3

Sled Island is all about stamina. When you go to a multi-day/multi-venue music festival, by the third day you have to dig deep inside yourself to channel your party stamina if you’re gonna make it and I dug pretty deep on Saturday afternoon to make it out to the main stage site at Olympic Plaza on this beautiful sunny afternoon.

At Olympic Plaza was a highly revered nostalgia act of sorts, Spiritualized. The English space rock band had a lot of dad vibes going on. But even with frontman Jason Pierce sitting down for the entire performance, the band took festivalgoers from the beer gardens to outer space and back again. Space is the place, indeed.

One of the biggest and most anticipated acts of Sled Island was easily St. Vincent and this became more than apparent as we walked up to Flames Central. With a lineup going down the entire block I was sure we weren’t going to get in. To call Annie Clark (AKA St. Vincent) a musician wouldn’t even be accurate. She is a higher being that takes performance art and music to dizzying new heights.

St. Vincent was an absolute festival highlight and the perfect way to end our weekend. I went home that night feeling satisfied knowing that Sled Island survived the flood of 2013 and remains one of the best music festivals in North America. If you haven’t been before, I would strongly urge you to add this to your list of things to do next summer — rain or shine. See you then!

Photo and words: Glenn Alderson

Sled Island Day 2

TGIF, am I right? We started Day Two of Sled Island on the top of the world. Or perhaps I should say at the top of the city. The artist lounge for Sled Island is located at the top of the Calgary Tower, which puts you at 525 feet above the city so you can see the spanning prairie skyline from a 360 degree view while eating free candy and rubbing shoulders with the indie rock elite that the festival is so infamously stacked with.

Unfortunately Neko Case ended up cancelling her performance at the festival so we skipped Olympic Plaza and went over to a rustic Jazz venue in the basement of one of Calgary’s oldest sandstone buildings, the Grain Exchange, to see Halifax folk-rock troubadour John McKiel. He was even joined on stage by Calgary musician Chris Dadge on drums as he played a beautiful and heartfelt set of zingers and ballads alike that make McKiel so much more than a boring sensitive singer-songwriter, he’s a true poet with heart, rhythm and soul.

The stage was draped in red velvet, there was a huge bingo calling board on the side of it and it was at this venue where I was met with perhaps my most favorite festival highlight, Shannon & The Clams. This Oakland-based rock ‘n’ roll doo-wop trio is very distinguishable, not only by their unique sound but also by the strong stage presence. I felt like I was walking in to a scene from Twin Peaks as the maximum capacity gymnasium pulsated and swayed with positive youthful vibes that sucked you in to the middle of the crowd.

I don’t care what you think about electronic music but this guy can command an audience better than any other one-man electronic act I’ve ever seen (Yes, even better than that Girl Talk nerd). Dan Deacon had the entire audience engaged in a sweaty dance party from the second he took the stage. Sled Island’s Friday night festivities ended on a very high note in so many different ways but I was exhausted so we headed home for some much deserved rest.

Photo and words: Glenn Alderson

Sled Island: BeatRoute Magazine Cotton Candy Party

On the road with my band, NEEDS, it almost seemed as though the cloudy prairie skies parted as we drove in to Calgary late Thursday afternoon. Fears of any potential flooding this year were on everyone’s mind but there wasn’t even so much as a drizzle as we made our way to the artist check-in at the fancy schmancy Paliser Hotel in the middle of the downtown core.

Now fully armed with our Sled Island wristbands we headed over to Leo Boutique, Calgary’s number one Nudie Jeans destination centre, to say hello to the friendly staff and pick up some much-needed festival attire. With everyone in my band suited in brand new Nudie Jeans we were ready to walk over to Central United Church to take in the stunning audio & visual assault of Oneohtrix Point Never.

The sad thing about a festival as stacked with talent as Sled Island is that you just can’t take everything in and the harsh reality we had to swallow on this particular evening was that we weren’t going to get to see Killer Mike because he was on the same time NEEDS was playing the BeatRoute Magazine Cotton Candy Party at the Bamboo.

In-between shows, I snuck outside to have a quick chat with Screaming Females frontwoman, Marissa Paternoster. “As I was leaving the house earlier today to catch our plane my dad asked me if this festival was called Slut Island,” she laughed. “I almost think it would be better if it was.” Stay tuned for more from our conversation!

Screaming Females are a band that should be added to everyone’s must-see list. Marissa Paternoster is a little firecracker on stage and I guarantee you that you have never seen anyone shred like her before. Well respected amongst her musical peers like J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr and even Jack White and infamous Chicago producer Steve Albini, this girl may only be 27 years old but she has the chops of a very established player plus a backing band that really lets her shine.

Sled Island started with a bang and definitely left me wanting more. With a full weekend ahead of us we packed up our gear and went back to our hotel so we could get maximum sledding in.

Photo and words: Glenn Alderson.

Kicking Off Sled Island

Music has always been a great inspiration to what we do at Nudie Jeans, and green initiatives are something that we applaud. This week we’ll be in Calgary, Canada, to attend one of the greener festivals around, Sled Island. Not only are we on site to enjoy the festival to the fullest, check out the great artist and enjoy the vibe. We also sponsored the Sled Island Kick-Off party. A great event held at the Commonwealth Bar & Stage, with great performances by The Slabs, Slow Down Molasses and Ayoo Angie, among others.

Our Calgary correspondent, Glenn Alderson, will be our man about the festival and he’ll make sure to cover the most interesting artists and happenings. Tell us a bit about yourself Glenn:

Hey everyone! My name is Glenn Alderson, long time supporter of Nudie Jeans and I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta – home of the illustrious Sled Island Music Festival. Five years ago I moved to Vancouver, working as the editor for a monthly music, arts & entertainment publication called BeatRoute Magazine. I have been to Sled Island every year since its inception and the festival has proven itself to be one of the most exciting multi-day/multi-venue music festivals in North America. This year is celebrating more than 200 bands over the course of five days.

Last year Mother Nature wasn’t so kind to Sled Island and, because of massive rainfalls in the prairie region, flooding of the city’s downtown core led to the unfortunate and abrupt ending to the festival before it could even barely get underway. However, this year the festival’s slogan is “Nobody Rains On Our Parade” and it is with that heroic and positive energy that I’m putting in my ear plugs and going back to Calgary for another year of loud music, late nights and undoubtedly lots of fun. Stay tuned for more highlights and updates from me on the ground at Sled Island. Calgary, Alberta... Let’s do it!

Words: Glenn Alderson. Photo: Crystal SujataChris Tait and Lúcia Julião

In Our Heads: Sandra Barenfeld

When not running our Repair Shop at Jakobsbergsgatan in Stockholm, Sandra is discovering her new hometown.

“I’m loving the new Repair Shop; it’s impossible not to. I mean, beautiful green walls, shelf after shelf with great denim, selvage floor and great customers. This summer I’ll meet new people my new hometown and try to find the best r&b and hip hop beats in Stockholm. As long as I get to dance until 4 in the am, I am happy. This fall my boyfriend is finally moving up here. We’re going to sell the car and buy DJ equipment. I’ll practice my DJing skills and then give David and Mathias a run for their money. I’ll drop this Destiny’s Child classic on them.”

If you are ever in Stockholm, and in need of denim or pointers on DJing, swing by the Repair Shop and ask Sandra.

Would you like some fresh herbs with your selvage?

Our team at Nudie Jeans Paddington strongly believe that being organic and sustainable shouldn’t be limited to just our product. When not selling denim or repairing it, they are growing a little veggie patch out the back of the store; there's salad-y greens, beautiful flowers and fresh herbs. A great way to assist their culinary skills during staff BBQs and of course a great gift for any customer who would like to take home some freshly grown basil with their brand new denim.

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Latest news

  • Jun 23: It’s Summer Sale Time! All Spring 2014 garments need to go, and are sold at 30% off at the Nudie Jeans Online Shop nj.io/Ftmj
  • Jun 11: The aged, patinated leather gives this bag a beautiful, well-worn look. Get Geronimosson Aged Trunk from the Nudie Jeans Online Shop nj.io/UZXG
  • Jun 06: Melting Butter paid us a visit at the Nudie Jeans Repair Shop in Soho. nj.io/Dhps
  • May 14: Yeah! Our Repair Shop concept won Sustainable Store of the Year award. nj.io/rio7
  • Apr 04: Black Coated denim is back - Thin Finn Back 2 Black. nj.io/PzGp
  • Mar 20: Guardian Sustainable Business wrote a nice piece on wear, tear & repair. nj.io/2pvM
  • Mar 04: Did you get our latest newsletter about denim jackets, khakis & tees? nj.io/S0R0
  • Feb 20: Our store in Göteborg has been renovated - it's a beauty. Say hi to Nudie Jeans Repair Shop Göteborg. nj.io/aGRj
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Your jeans go
where you go.
They live your lifestyle.
They get abrasions
and scars.
And they bleed.
Just like you.


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