Q&A with Florian Hessel aka @distantrelativesalut
Name: Florian Hessel
Birth year: 1986
Profession: Co-owner of a coffee roastery
Florian’s Routines on Instagram
Thomas: How did it all start with your Instagram feed?
Florian: I’ve been fading proper raw denim since 2013. After a couple of years, I found out about reddit.com/r/rawdenim. It was super dope to be in a community of like-minded weirdo’s who talk about pants. At some point, the moderators started removing posts that didn’t match their (very long list of) rules of posting in that sub. Switched to Instagram the same day.
T: Why Instagram? What are your goals?
F: Raw denim is a very visual culture, and Instagram is by far the best medium for it. I really don’t have any real goals with this whole thing. It’s great to have some sort of denim diary to be able to look back on past fades.
Of course, the social aspect is very important; it’s amazing to chat directly with producers, store owners and the best fading denimheads. Everyone is very open and approachable, I love that.
Lastly, I do feel that Instagram is somewhat of a fake world. Everything is prettier than AFK. While denim is such a non-bull-shit piece of clothing, I’d like to bring a bit purer raw denim love back online. Therefore, every photo I post is focussed on a pair of denim and I don’t use any filters.
T: What’s the story of your username?
F: White Denim is a band that has a song called Distant Relative Salute, check it out!
Because I started wearing a non-indigo selvedge Tellason Ladbroke Grove at the time I played the album (Corsicana Lemonade) the song was on a lot, I picked it as my denim username (minus the E at the end, because it was too long).
T: How much time do you spend on Instagram on a daily basis?
F: Let me check … Today I’ve spent an hour and 22 minutes on Instagram, according to my phone. That time mostly goes to the account of my company, a small portion to my personal account, and I’ve probably spent around 30 minutes on my denim account.
T: How do you take your photos?
F: I think my wife did help me out on some photos, maybe just three of them though. It’s mostly a solo thing for me.
T: Which tools do you use?
F: iPhone X, using a bench and a flat white cup as a camera-stand/tripod thing. Very high-end stuff, haha!
T: What’s your editorial flow?
F: Concept-wise everything I do need to make at least a little sense. So I’ve started taking photos in a three-in-a-row style, which is a great way to show more aspects of the same subject. I try to post a new three-in-a-row every week. Often during, or somewhere around, the weekend.
Most importantly; whenever I don’t feel like posting I don’t. This thing is and should always feel like a hobby for me.
T: What are your favourite locations to take photos? And why?
F: My company’s headquarters. We have the most amazing tall windows on a corner space. The lighting is just ace here and it’s a great 5-minute break for me.
Florian’s Denim Style and Preferences
T: How did you get into denim?
F: Living in Amsterdam means denim is and has been everywhere. The first quality denim I bought was around 2006. A non-selvedge distressed pair by Blue Blood. The fabric and build quality was amazing.
After that, Denham popped up, making some more simple washed and also raw pairs of denim. I ended up owning multiple pairs. Still not really with the goal to change the looks of them, to fade them heavily.
That started in 2013 when I bought a 16.5 oz pair of Tellason Ladbroke Groves at Tenue de Nîmes. I remember having bruises on my hips because I wore them daily while commuting to work on my bike, haha! 927 wears and counting. Absolutely love the pair. It’s my GOAT.
T: What’s your favourite feature of jeans?
The fit should be good but to me the fabric is everything. I try to buy a very different fabric from what’s in my closet with every new denim purchase.
F: The fabric. I often hate little details. Or too many details. The embroidery leaf on my PBJs I only accept because the rest of the build is so basic and classic.
T: How do you wash your denim?
F: I often soak after around 150 or 200 wears. And first wash after 300 wears.
When a pair is really grimy, I use a piece of ox-gall soap and rub the entire denim with cold water. But that’s only after 500 wears or more.
T: What’s your favourite denim brand?
F: Ah man, I was afraid this question would come up. I love the diversity of this whole thing most of all. I do have a soft spot for Japanese denim brands. Oni and PBJ are brands I own and really love.
T: What’s your favourite fit? And why?
F: I’ve always worn quite tight and tapered fits. Like the Ladbroke Groves. I also have a Tenue de Nîmes pair that I had tailored to be really slim fitting. Love that. But since my (secret denim fabric) Oni started stretching a lot, I’m digging a looser fit more and more. Maybe my next pair will be something like an orSlow 105.
T: Which boots and leather goods do you wear with your denim?
F: Red Wing, Fracap and Moma boots. Soulland and Grenson loafers.
T: Which sneakers do you wear?
F: Loads. I don’t photograph them too often though. Yeezy V2’s and 500, Gyakusou, Opening Ceremony, Air 180. I also love my Teva and Suicoke sandals.
T: Favourite item that’s not denim or leather?
F: Hansen Garments shirts.
T: Where do you buy your gear?
T: What’s your monthly clothing budget?
F: There’s no fixed budget. And at the moment, with two small kids, there really is no budget at all. Not a bad thing for them mad fades though because I put more wears in older denim.
T: What styling tips would you give your followers if they wanted your style?
F: Not sure if I can help anyone with that. I’m still trying to find the style I feel most comfortable in myself. Would love to see denim heads wearing better sneakers though!