How Denimhunters Can Teach You About Denim

Denimhunters is a hub for knowledge about denim and jeans. It’s also the home of founder Thomas Stege Bojer’s freelance consulting services.

Learn About Denim and Jeans Online

The Denimhunters Academy is the denim industry’s new independent on-demand online knowledge platform. It teaches you how to create meaningful and memorable experiences for your customers with product knowledge and storytelling.

From Passion to Profession to ‘Professor’

The story of Denimhunters begins in the autumn of 2010 when I, Thomas, wanted to know more about raw denim and why it fades. But my passion for denim started long before that.

You see, I’m a curious guy by nature. I like to know how things work. I guess a lot of guys are like that. Just look at Discovery Channel’s “How It’s Made” series. It’s been running since 2001 and it has over 350 episodes with four segments each. That’s more than 1,400 video clips about how more or less anything you can imagine is made. (In case you’re wondering, “Jeans” is segment B of episode 5.)

Around the same time that the first “How It’s Made” aired—since my 15th birthday in 2001 to be exact—I’ve been working with retail. I was a cashier at a supermarket at first, and then I worked at a gas station. It was how I got money to buy guitars, skateboards and, you guessed it, jeans.

In 2007, I got my first job selling clothes when I moved to ‘the big city’ to study. That’s when I developed a strong passion for denim. I didn’t really know why, I just loved the stuff.

When I took a sabbatical between educations in 2010, I got a job working full time as a buyer for a fashion store. Without the obligations of my studies, I’d started what became my own personal denim education. And I needed a place to write up all my notes. My sister-in-law suggested that I should start a blog and that I call it ‘Denimhunter’ (the ‘s’ was added a year later). I found the name fitting considering the amount of time I was spending researching about denim.

Denimhunters Academy, recording pilot lessons, Thomas in front of camera
Thomas Stege Bojer, founder of Denimhunters.

How Blogging Changed My Career Path

After I’d started blogging, I soon discovered that—more than anything else on my resumé—the knowledge I acquired and used to build Denimhunters gave me opportunities I’d never even imagined.

Every job I’ve gotten since I started blogging has been because of Denimhunters. I’ve built a far-reaching network of enthusiasts and professionals in the business. I’ve been featured in international publications. I’ve been invited to speak at several industry events across the globe. And I’ve had the honour to have my writing published in a book by renowned publisher and culture creator, Gestalten.

Rediscovering Why I’m Doing Denimhunters

Somewhere along the line, though, I lost sight of why I am doing Denimhunters. I focused on traffic, advertisers and online retail to drive revenue. But it didn’t feel right.

That’s when I rediscovered the reason I started Denimhunters in the first place; to teach about denim. That’s why I’m now selling knowledge with the Denimhunters Academy.

If you get knowledgeable about denim, you’ll stand out from the crowd, just like I did.

But rather than do all the hard work yourself by building your own personal media brand and knowledge platform from the ground up like I did, you can learn from me.

Why Denim Industry Needs An Independent Knowledge Problem

As a newly studded ‘denim blogger’ back in 2011, I was looking at a lot of marketing material from denim brands. And one could sometimes get the impression that raw denim was a new invention.

Back in the days before stonewashing, bleaching and all kinds of nastiness, jeans were only sold as raw. It was the only option available for almost a century! Until the first industrially-washed jeans were introduced in the 1960s, every single pair of faded jeans would’ve been worn in by a real human being. Sounds like denimhead-nirvana, right?

Today, you can get ‘sick fadez’ off the shelf. The manufacturer will do the work for you. But, even when my parents’ generation were kids from the 1950s through to the 1970s, they’d have to go through quite the ordeal if they wanted their new jeans faded quickly.

The denimheads of the day would put on their crisp jeans, hit the shower and then scrub like crazy with sponges to get that worn-in look they’d come to love from imported secondhand American jeans. But slowly over the years since, consumers forgot about raw denim.

For me, growing up in the 1990s with an abundance of jeans that came washed and faded off the store shelves, I didn’t think much about how denim was made or why its colour changed with wash and wear.

Long before I got into raw denim, when the first wave of raw denim fashion hit the western markets in the mid-1990s, it wasn’t really about the fade either. Quite the opposite; it was about jeans that weren’t washed beyond recognition, which had flooded the market.

The early raw denim trend planted a seed with a few conscious consumers who started questioning what was going on with their raw denim jeans as they faded.

The Problem with Myths in the World of Denim

With the boom of the internet at the beginning of the 2000s, raw denim lovers could suddenly connect with like-minded enthusiasts from all around the world, and communities began forming. A real turning point for raw denim. Online “edutainment” was exploding, and suddenly everyone could claim to be an expert. And a lot did.

This was the heydays of denim forums. I always found them a little noisy and kind of intimidating. It was usually the boldest and the loudest who lead the conversation. It didn’t suit me and my introvert, shy and perfectionist nature. (To this day, I have nightmares about public shaming for writing something untrue about denim).

With the growing interest in knowledge about denim, brands and retailers realised they needed something to say when their customers asked about raw denim and selvedge weaves. And some figured adding a little panache to the stories wouldn’t hurt either.

Combining misconceptions and cheap sales tricks with the fact that few of the self-proclaimed online experts were professionals meant that a lot of the myths took hold and became common denim knowledge.

There were a lot of opinions but no truly reliable source to validate the facts. That’s what I wanted Denimhunters to become; something that could connect all the dots as a trusted source of knowledge about denim.

The Problem of Getting Knowledge Out to Denim Retailers

Another prevalent problem in denim retail is that the staff in many stores have neither the skills, the interest nor the time to explain how denim actually works to every single consumer.

Brands and retailers have simplified things to make it easier to grasp for consumers and easier to explain to the staff and marketers. That’s why advice like the ‘six-months-without-washing’ and the ‘ocean wash’ approaches was conceived and popularised.

With the raw denim and heritage culture of recent years, things have changed – a lot! Consumers know a lot more, and, importantly, they want to know exactly how the garments you’re selling were made.

Even though denim is a beautifully simple product, it’s quite complicated to manufacture. Making a pair of jeans is not merely a matter of shovelling in raw materials at one end of a machine and then pulling out finished jeans at the other. The production of the fabric alone requires five overall processes, each of which has several steps.

The complexity of denim means you need to know about this when you’re working with denim because your consumer knows – or at least he wants to know. And he will ask all kinds of questions that you better know the answer to.

How To Stay Ahead With Knowledge and Education

If you work with denim, you probably know that “knowledge is king” in our business. To succeed in the long run as a brand, as a designer, as a marketer, as a retailer and, especially, as someone who’s working in a retail store, you need to be trustworthy.

But how do you make your customers trust you?

You need to know what you’re talking about; you need to have knowledge about the product. And you need to be able to communicate that knowledge.

When you know how the jeans you’re selling were spun, dyed, woven and treated – and when you can deliver this information in an engaging and fun way to your customers – you’re so much more likely to get happy and repeat customers because they will trust you. I’ve experienced this first-hand working in denim retail myself.

The problem is that acquiring knowledge about denim is time-consuming; it requires commitment from both staff and employers, and the quality and validity of some of the denim knowledge out there is questionable (to say the least).

Even more importantly, the denim-related educational programmes I know of, none of which are independent and open for anyone to join, seldom address the matter of applying the knowledge out there in real-world sales situations. In other words, they don’t “operationalise” the knowledge.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s all good,” you might be thinking, “but what does a blogger like you know about denim education?!” Well, quite a lot, I would humbly argue. It’s how I built one of the world’s most respected knowledge platforms about denim.

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