The Definitive Denim Guide Is Now On Sale
In case you had been wondering where Thomas Stege Bojer, our founding editor, has been these last few months, all can now been revealed with the official launch of his book, Blue Blooded, written with British journalist Josh Sims and published by the ultra-stylish Gestalten GmbH of Berlin.
Advance copies have been out for review and Blood Blooded is making its mark amongst the royalty of menswear commentators. Knowing smiles and the big thumbs-up have also greeted it during the trade-show season from New York to Amsterdam so we’ll keep our powder dry and let others do the talking.
Instead, let us take you behind the scenes to understand a little more about the man behind this luscious 256-page, hard-cover heavyweight compendium of all-things indigo.
Share It And Win It
And, we have three exclusively signed copies for you to win! Just blast this article on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #blueblooded and we’ll get in touch with three random winners. The more you share it, the better your chances of snagging sixty bucks worth of coffee-table kudos. Easy, eh? (Ed: “Shameless” might be a better word.)
Talking To Thomas
As he prepared to début Blue Blooded at Selvedge Run 3 in Berlin, Matt, Marc and Thomas popped a couple of beers and got down to brass-tacks. We have lived the story for a full year now but we wanted to bring it to The Tribe in Thomas’ own words.
Why did you make the leap from online to print?
It’s easier than ever to get published. Just go online and start a blog or a social media group and you are an published author. But print is different. Very different, actually. And people still have a love affair with traditionally printed publications. Maybe it’s because it’s now easier than ever to get published online? No matter the reason, there’s just something about it when a company spends money putting words onto paper to sell them.
It’s more lasting; you can’t go back and edit or delete it, it’s always going to be there the way you first made it. I think that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to get published in print. And apparently, I’m not alone. As many as 82% of adults dream about writing a book but only 3% of those who start writing one actually finish it.
Blue Blooded is the book that I wished was around when I first got into raw denim. It covers virtually any aspect of denim and jeans, all the way from factual discussions of how the fabric is made, how it’s turned into a garment and how to wear, wash and style it, to an analysis of what raw denim and heritage fashion means and where it comes from historically.
Back in the late 2000s, when I first discovered raw denim and the nascent heritage fashion culture, I was frantically reading books like Paul Trynka’s ‘Jeans: From Cowboys to Catwalks,’ which already back then was considered a must-read for denimheads. I remember thinking that one day I might be able to write a book myself. After four years of blogging, I was ready. This was in February 2015. In May this year (2016), after 9 months of intense work since I first got in touch with my publisher back in the high summer last year, my dream became a reality when Blue Blooded went to press.
How did you get Blue Blooded published?
Once I’d decided that I wanted to write a book, I started looking into how you actually do that. Turns out there are three routes to getting published; self-publishing, assisted self-publishing and traditional publishing. They have quite different outcomes and requirements and it took a lot of consideration before I decided to pursue the traditional publishing route.
Explained briefly, self-publishing is where you do everything yourself. It has become a lot easier in recent years with the wonders of the internet. With self-publishing you get to keep all the money you make, but you also have to cover all the expenses yourself. As a bare minimum, you’d have to hire in an editor, contract a printer, and you’d probably also want help from someone with connections to retailers to help you sell the book. You’ll also have to do all the promotion yourself – or hire someone to help with that as well. With assisted self-publishing, so-called publishing agents bundle the above-mentioned services (and more) into different packages. Bottom+line is that with both kinds of self-publishing, you’re paying for the production of the book, which means you take all the risk. The result is that anyone can get published if they have the money for it.
With traditional publishing, it’s more or less the other way around. The publisher is a gatekeeper, and they select what gets published based on factors such as demand, supply, the author(s) and so on. Basically, the publisher hires you to write the book, which means they cover costs for project managers, editors, proofreaders, graphic designers, printing facilities, a sales team and promotion. Authors are paid in royalties, which is a percentage of the retail price of the book. Sometimes you’ll even be able to negotiate an advance, but I’ve been told it’s not that common for first-time authors (although I was able to do so). Essentially, the financial reward is smaller, but so is the risk. Additionally, you don’t have complete control and authority to decide every little detail for the book, but for me it was more important to have the support of skilled project managers, editors and graphic designers – not to mention a well-established worldwide distribution network.
So, I’d decided that traditional publishing was right for me and I started preparing to pitch my idea. To my luck, Berlin-based international niche publisher, Gestalten reached out to me just around that time. They wanted to do a book that would discuss denim in it’s entirety, which was a slightly broader scape than the solely raw denim-focused proposal that I’d been working on. In the end, we agreed to do a book that would look at denim in general from the perspective of raw and heritage denim.
Makes sense since that’s what I know, really. The result is a book that is not only for purists, but it’s certainly made by purists. Half of the writing credit goes to my co-author, British journalist and author Josh Sims, who has previously published the book Icons of Men’s Style. Josh has written all of the 35 profiles of companies and individuals that perfectly complement my product, style and history-focused discussions.
What did you learn in your research for Blue Blooded?
In case you didn’t know already, I’m a perfectionist. This meant that not only did I want my writing to be factually correct, that’s a given, I also wanted it to be reflective on what had already been written about denim. This meant I spent the first few months of the writing process reading as much as I possibly could on the specific topics within denim that the book covers.
I went through old Rope Dye posts, dived into the library of other denim blogs, mined popular threads on forums, I even researched in the world of academia and naturally I read, or reread, all the must-read denim books.
I have to confess that prior to this research process, there were a few books about denim that I hadn’t read. Boy, was I missing out! James Sullivan’s book, which is simply titled ‘Jeans,’ discusses the topic from an American perspective, and it’s a really well-written and informative read.
The depth of Jenny Balfour-Paul’s masterpiece on indigo is mind-blowing and taught me so much more about the magic “blue stuff.” And David Marx’s insanely well-researched and eye-opening book, Ametora gave me invaluable insight about denim in Japan. Just to name a few of the sources for the book.
On top of my research, I also enlisted a handful of the masterminds from the denim business that I’d come to know over the years to discuss and verify my writing.
Early on in my how-to-write-a-book research, I discovered a strategy called “booking a blog,” which essentially is taking a series of blog posts and turning them into a book. ‘Jackpot,’ I thought at first; this seemed like exactly what I’d been looking for. But, after some in-depth analyses of how my blog posts could fit together based on the structure of the book that I had in mind, it quickly became clear that I would have to write everything anew to ensure the same tone of voice, perspective and level of quality of the writing.
Quite humbling then..?
The most important lesson that writing Blue Blooded taught me is that I don’t know it all. In all fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever made that claim; I’m essentially an enthusiast who knows a bit more about denim than the average consumer, possibly even a bit the average denimhead. But when I started diving into the topics of the book, I discovered that there was still plenty I had to learn.
Take for instance the history of weaves. I didn’t know all the details of the history of how weaving technology evolved over two centuries from the 1730s with invention of the flying shuttle to the first of the infamous automatic Draper X shuttle looms in 1930. Blue Blooded tells that story in detail. I also learned why Draper, once-world-leader of automatic looms, went out of business in the early 1970s.
And because the scope of the book is wider than raw denim, I dove into the topic of garment washing and finishing, sometimes referred to as pre-washing. It’s a big no-go for raw denim purists, but the fact of the matter is that most jeans sold today are washed or treated one way or the other before they’re sold. To understand the “darkside” you have to go there. The book does go into detail about all of the latest treatment technologies, but I wanted to learn more about the washing process, stonewashing. And who better to tell me than the guy who pioneered it in Europe, Frenchman François Girbaud. Highlights and surprising insights from that conversation are in the book as well.
Do you have any favourite sections?
I’m proud of every single part of the book. Everyone involved put a tremendous amount of work and research into it and I think it shows. However, the section that I had the hardest time writing was the “How denim is made” one, which makes it the one I’m proudest of. It is loaded with hardcore facts that naturally needed to be correct. This meant I had to do some serious research, as mentioned above, and this is where what I learned doing my master thesis really came in handy. But rather than merely listing the facts, I wanted to put them into the broader perspective of the fact-hungry raw denim culture, but still make it relevant for novices.
I’m also really happy about how the “Style archetypes” section turned out. Initially, I pictured it as part of the “Buying and wearing jeans” section, but Gestalten loved it and wanted to give it more attention. Wise decision. It always gets positive reactions straight away when people browse through the book. And I think the drawings that my project manager, Vanessa did are awesome!
It was Gestalten’s idea to include profiles of influential companies and individuals in the book, and they put Josh in charge of writing them, which is really his speciality. However, I was the lead in figuring out who we should profile. Together with Josh, I compiled a list of around 140 potential profiles.
Trust me, it was a long and sometimes quite frustrating process narrowing down to the 35 profiles that ended up in the book (of which the Big Three and Osaka Five profiles naturally include more than a single company or individual). Because so much work when into securing a balanced mix of one-man brands, denim mills, indigo aficionados, vintage collectors, original denim mega-brands, Japanese selvedge pioneers and everything in between, every single profile in there has a great story. If I had to pick one profile, though, it would have to be Brit Eaton’s.
Reminder: Share It And Win It
We have three copies signed by Thomas to give away. Just share this article on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #blueblooded and we’ll get in touch with three random winners.
Editors: Thomas Stege Bojer, Josh Sims, Gestalten
Format: 24 × 28 cm
Features: Full color, hardcover, 256 pages