Innovation, Inspiration and Imagination: The World of the Denim Instagrammer
Rope Dye talks to Instagrammer Selvedge1 to get a glimpse of the man and machines behind this extraordinary feed
Love it or hate it, (and most of us love it), there is no denying that Instagram has become the platform for like-minded individuals to share inspiration, goods, news and events, throwing open the doors to a curated glance at people’s lives.
In the denim world, there are a number of Instagrammers who we naturally gravitate to. Their feeds are full of refined imagery, finely selected garments and products, and give us more than a little daily inspiration.
One such feed is Selvedge1. The man behind the feed is Victor, a Texas-based, true blue denimhead.
Right Time, Right Place
I first met Victor at the Amsterdam Denim Days. He was running around herding all the denim dudes together for some shots. We chatted briefly and decided to keep in touch for a more in-depth chat at a later date. A few e-mails later we were on a Skype call chatting about the passion for denim and social media as a purely social tool.
RD: So how did you get into the denim business?
Selvedge 1: Well, I am not really in the business, more of a big enthusiast and I connect my love of photography and my love of denim in one hobby.
For the Love of Denim
I used to do photography professionally but I got burned out. It was all commissioned kinda work and things I didn’t really enjoy. So I wanted a new personal project and something that would keep it interesting.
I combined the passion for photography and denim together to start this Instagram account. I really didn’t have many expectations in mind. I was just really thrilled to get 100 followers and be able to talk with other people.
RD: And how did you get into denim?
Selvedge 1: I have been into denim for about 11 years now. There are a couple of things I love about it. I think it is really neat that it’s personalised; everyone’s wears are different. The results of each garment are distinctly yours.
For the Fit
What got me into it in the first place was the search for well-fitted jean. I’m not the typical American size and, for the longest time, I couldn’t find something that worked well for me in United States stores. After looking online reading some forums like SuperFuture and Styleforum, I discovered brands like APC and Nudies. I ended up travelling to NY to check out APCs in person, and that was my first pair of raw denim. After a while, I learned more about Japanese denim and started buying a lot of stuff online. Back then, there were not many stores who had the stuff for retail.
Nowadays, it is more available, maybe more mainstream but there is still that “specialness” to it. People who wear it are still enthusiasts, in my mind.
Truly Social Media
More recently through Instagram, I connect with other great folks out there and meet some of the names from the industry. Through this account, I have been able to meet and bring people together.
RD: If you have been into this for 11 years, you will have seen a lot of changes in the ways people communicate via “social” media.
Selvedge 1: Yeah, the old adage is correct. “If there is any constant, then it is change”. Message boards and forums used to be all the rage. Then out come these services. Reddit became more popular, social media got a little bigger and got people shifted around a bit. It was really underground back in the days of Superfuture. Back then I was still learning and it was a little intimidating.
If you had any question it has probably been asked already, so starting a thread was one of the hardest things you could do. The saddest thing nowadays with the forums is that many of the image services have shut down, the text is still there but the images are gone. That archive was one of the best parts. That makes me kinda sad that it’s not been preserved.
RD: It seems like Instagram has grown to be the tool for brands and individuals getting their name out there, why do you think this has developed?
Selvedge 1: It has migrated. Instagram does hold a lot of influence in regards to social media but Pinterest has a big part for a while as well. Maybe not truly in denim, but other fashion stuff. But I don’t know what the next thing is. I don’t think Instagram will be the be all and end all for people to creatively be around.
The algorithm changes that happened a couple of months ago really pissed a lot of people off. It went from being chronological, to based on interactions and we have seen a drop off from this.
There could also be a degree of saturation. Original content is getting harder to find now and I am posting a little less now. I am looking to find something new, rather than posting for the sake of posting. The trouble is, that’s what the algorithm in Instagram prefers you to do.
RD: You’re not using Instagram in any commercial way, you’re not trying to drum up business or sell a product. Where does your motivation come from?
Selvedge 1: Right, I have not accepted any money for running the account. My primary motivation is to meet other denim enthusiasts, discover new brands, and promote things I believe are cool. The most fun thing is the ability to meet other folks in the community when I travel, and even bring folks together in the same city who may not realise there are other enthusiasts like them.
Time Well Spent
RD: So how much time do you dedicate to Instagram each day?
Selvedge 1: Some days it will be 30-40 mins, other days it will be hours. It really depends. That’s in addition to the time I spend taking pictures. That’s one of the reasons I have toned it down. The time I spent on Instagram grew as my followers grew and I do value this a lot, certainly don’t want to shortchange people who spend time interacting with me and commenting on my posts. At the same time, it takes away time from my normal life as well. I just have to be conscious about how much time I spend on this. It can easily consume your whole day if you are just in front of the computer. This is just one facet of my life.
Tools of the Trade
RD: So, a lot of people will be interested in the gear that you use?
Selvedge 1: All the images I post are from a DSLR. I tried the phone cameras but they never had the look I wanted and also I had the gear already. I do put some effort into making an ideal shot; this is the fun aspect for me. As far as gear goes I have a Canon 80D with a wide array of lenses. This camera is really perfect for taking the selfie style pictures. You can use the phone to control the camera itself. You set up the camera on a tripod with the framing you want. Then step into the frame and through your phone set up the details you want like focus, exposure and the other technical details and then trigger the shot.
All the latest mid-range and up Canon have this and the Nikon and Sony have something similar. It makes life a lot easier.