Is it just me or has there been something of a deluge of denim-related books the past couple of years? And none of them really all that good? Like this really bad one or this slightly better one. At least from where I’m sitting there has been more enthusiasm than actual content, more styled and curated photography than actual words written. Which is fine and dandy if you think Instagram qualifies as a good read.
Today’s book is different though. For starters it’s a hefty piece of work, clocking in at 255 large format pages bound in hardback. It also weighs 1.6 kilos. Remarkably it is also half bound in authentic denim. And yes, it does feel like a truly serious piece of work.
The publisher, Gestalten, have done something clever with this book, compared to a few others of the same ilk. By all means not a surprising innovation, mind you, but one that in this case proves it’s value. The book has two authors. One, Danish Thomas Stege Boyer, has spent years immersed in denim culture through running the Denimhunters website, amongst other denim-related activities. The other is top menswear writer Josh Sims, a go-to guy when you want some proper words written about subjects such as this.
I could string you along till the end of the review before revealing my verdict, but I’ll let you know right now. This book is superb. Not flawless, but it’s a bloody great book. Why? Because it covers a lot of ground, with good depth and knowledge, well selected illustrations and the presentation is excellent. It’s not a whimsical coffee table book that you’ll flick through in 20 minutes. This one can be read from start to finish, and you’ll be all the more informed by the end.
The topics are divided into the following:
- How denim is made
- How jeans are made
- Buying and wearing jeans
- How to style and wear your jeans
- Our indigo heritage
Interestingly the authors don’t always follow the conventional wisdom that is bandied about the denim world, such as the idea of sticking your smelly jeans in the freezer to take care of bacteria buildup (yuck!). This is proven to have little or no value at all. Another point is that the buildup of grime, skin and whatever that will happen over time might promote the rad fadez, but your jeans would last noticeably longer if you washed them occasionally.
If there is a weakness to be mentioned, I think it has to be the profiles. There will always be opinions regarding which people and companies should be featured, the manner in which they are featured should be consistent. Naturally some profiles will have more background to be written up, but in some cases a company of marginal merit will get several pages of photos of little real value. This contrasts to other profiles where the text contains real value and the illustrations merely fill in. A little harder editing there would have made it perfect.
It’s out on Gestalten now, available through the usual suspects. If you have an interest in denim, you’ll want to grab a copy.
And remember, if you’re mainly after pretty photos of beardy dudes in denim, you might try this really bad one or this slightly better one. Or if you want a guide on how to dress by a really cool, edgy designer, try this awful book…