Meet Thomas Stege Bojer
As the founder of Denimhunters and editor of our recent release Blue Blooded, Thomas Stege Bojer is one of the leading resources internationally for all things indigo. Get to know the Danish denimhead in our interview below.
What is the history behind Denimhunters? How long have you been a part of the project?
To answer the second question first, I’ve been part of the project since day one - I’m the sole founder of Denimhunters. I was spending a growing amount of time researching denim online back in 2010, and my sister-in-law convinced me to start blogging about denim. As no one was doing it in my native language—and possibly because I didn’t feel comfortable enough in English—I chose to do it in Danish. The first iteration of the site was launched in January of 2011 as a hobby project. Less than a year later, I changed the language to English, which meant the site really started taking off.
As Denimhunters quickly spread outside of Denmark, I started getting guest writers on board: fellow denim enthusiasts who also wanted to share their passion. I was in no rush to monetize the blog, and I believe that has turned in to be one of the core strengths of Denimhunters—that integrity. I only talked about products and businesses that I could get behind.
After I graduated from business school in 2014, I’ve been consulting in the denim industry and using my experience to help others run their businesses with more passion.
What was your first pair of jeans like? And when you started to care more and more about jeans, what was the first pair that you bought?
I remember the first pair of pants I bought for my own money. It was the day after my 10th birthday and it was a pair of Freeman T. Porter pants. I believe it might have been twill, but it wasn’t indigo-dyed denim.
When I was in my late teens in the mid-00s, I had a pair of Lee jeans in the Powell fit, which were quite popular at the time. They weren’t selvedge denim, and I think they were rinsed or something when I got them, but that was probably the first pair of blue jeans I had that really made me start asking questions about the fading: I would notice how the color of the jeans changed, but I didn’t quite understand why or how.
When I was in my early twenties, I was introduced to raw denim for the first time. The first pair of selvedge jeans I got were from A.P.C.; they were my gateway drug. I got a part-time job in the fashion store [ei’kon] in Aarhus where I’d bought the jeans and I found myself selling brands like Edwin, PRPS, April77, Acne and, of course, A.P.C. That’s when I really started getting deep into denim.
What do you look for in a pair of jeans?
I’m very picky about my jeans, as I’m sure most denimheads are. They have to have certain design and construction details: a five-button fly, hidden rivets, preferably chain-stitched hems, five pockets, a straight fit with a regular or loose leg, and—most importantly—a denim with the potential to develop a good fade. Now, that begs the question: what makes a good fade?
I’m a nostalgic kind of guy when it comes to denim. I like it unsanforized—shrink-to-fit as it’s also known. There’s something special about the ritual of shrinking your pants to fit your body. I guess it makes the bond between you and the garment strong from day one. And that bond only gets stronger the more you wear and fade your jeans. With unsanforized denim, you also get the infamous leg twist, which most people hate. I remember when I was still a raw denim novice and I thought there was something wrong with my jeans. Now, I want my jeans to twist.
What excites you about a new manufacturer? What are the tell-tale signs of quality or innovation?
I always look for authenticity. Not in the sense that it has to be completely unique—almost nothing in denim is anymore—but in the sense that it has to be honest. What you can do then is ask why the people behind this new brand, store, innovation, or whatever it may be, are doing what they’re doing. Are they truly passionate about it? Do they have that entrepreneurial spirit and drive? Do they know how they make the products they sell?
What did you learn while working on Blue Blooded?
I learned a lot more about denim, and I learned that it takes a whole lot of emails and phone calls to coordinate a 250-page book with a publisher situated in Berlin, one writer in London, another writer in Copenhagen (myself), around 40 companies and individuals from all around the world to profile, and several business professionals to help make sure that what we put in the book was factually correct.
Personally, being the main editor and lead author, I had to write all of the sections about the technicalities of denim including how the fabric is made, how it’s turned into a garment, what happens when you buy and wear a denim garment, and the over-arching history of the material. Essentially, I was putting everything that I’d been blogging about into around 75 standard pages of raw text, or around 175,000 characters all together. That’s quite a lot of text! And although it was seven months from when I was first approached by Gestalten to do the book in August 2015 and when I handed everything in by early March 2016, I effectively wrote the bulk of my text in just two months. If you had asked me if I’d ever do a book again when I submitted the copy I’d tell you, “Never ever again!”, but I’m actually already thinking of what could be next.
What don’t people know about jeans and denim?
There’s a lot that most people don’t know about jeans and denim, but that could be said about almost anything. I’m a big fan of BMWs, but I don’t know much about engines or how they actually work.
Still, the most common thing that amazes people is the entire fading process and how it happens. Most consumers don’t believe it when the guy in a denim store tells them that the washed and faded jeans that he’s wearing were actually once as dark and crisp as the ones on the shelve. It’s an important moment for sharing denim culture; it is a unique opportunity to baptise a raw denim virgin and introduce a future loyal customer to the culture.
The eternal question: how do I keep my blue jeans blue?
To most denimheads, the question would be the exact opposite—“How do I get my blue jeans to fade?” Sort of, at least, as we generally only want it to fade in certain areas to develop high contrasts between faded and non-faded areas of the garment.
Anyway, all denim fades; that’s the beauty of it. If you don’t want fades, don’t get blue jeans. You can prevent contrasting fades by washing your jeans in the machining washing frequently and—more importantly—before you start wearing them. This will make the indigo bleed over the fabric, which is exactly what denimheads aim to avoid.
All images from Blue Blooded