Q&A with Koen aka @koenkuik on Instagram
What’s the most archetypical denim shot you can find on Instagram? A dude cuffing his jeans to reveal colour socks and boots? A full outfit laid out flat? Some guy standing, headless, looking cool in his outfit?
I don’t know? They’re all pretty common. And, personally, I really like them! Nothing bad about that. But, it can get a bit repetitive and predictable.
That’s probably also how Koen Kuik was feeling when he took a break from his Instagram feed a couple of months ago. What he came back with is truly something unique, yet it fits right in with all the cuffing pics, the flat lays and the outfit shots.
I met Koen a couple years ago during Amsterdam Denim Days when he came to me for advice, as he was just starting out as a denim blogger himself. He’s become a good friend, and he’s been kind enough to host me when I visit Amsterdam! Here’s his story.
What’s your story
Name: Koen Kuik
Birth year: 1991
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Profession: Healthcare and self-employed
I’ve lived in Amsterdam for a year. Before that, I lived in Ermelo, a small village in the middle of the Netherlands with a lot of nature!
My girlfriend works as an art director in advertising. So, Amsterdam was the right place for us to live. For myself, it gave me the opportunity to get in contact with more like-minded people.
Besides denim, I’m into photography and music.
Koen’s Instagram Strategy and Tactics
Thomas: How did it all start with your Instagram feed?
Koen: I started with an account called @itreflectedme posting pictures of reflections in windows, water taps and all sorts of shiny stuff.
I stopped doing that and started @koenkuik, posting random pictures. I wasn’t serious about it. About three years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of denim and that was the time it all went downhill!
I started buying more denim items and posting about them on my account, and I got to know more people. Eventually, I started Blue Roots Official, a Dutch denim blog. From then on, I was completely into denim.
T: Why Instagram? What are your goals? (Business, pleasure, both?)
K: As most people will tell you, the denim community is amazing. Everybody is super helpful and kind to each other. There is (almost) no rivalry, but just one group of nice people. Instagram keeps me in contact with them and gives me insight into what brands are up to.
T: How much time do you spend on Instagram on a daily basis? (Both exploring and creating content)
Haha … now it gets serious. Well, I guess around 4-6 hours a day. Sounds a lot but the photoshopped pictures I make take a lot of time!
So, it’s not only liking and commenting. Plus I’m also looking for changes and new tactics on Instagram to maximize my Instagram game.
T: You take some pretty “experimental” pictures. How do you come up with new ideas?
K: Most of the time, I get inspiration from other Instagrammers. I was a bit fed up with the outfit shots so I was looking for a new angle. Plus I wanted to do more with my creativity.
I started using Photoshop to make my photos slightly different than the rest. When I posted my first photo, I got a lot of reactions, so I made more of them.
T: Which tools do you use? (Both hardware and software)
K: I have a Canon 600D DSLR camera with a Canon 24-70mm f/4 L lens, and I just bought a Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens. I use a remote control to take my photos and edit them in Photoshop and Lightroom.
T: Do you make it a priority to post on a regular schedule? And how do you remind yourself of it?
K: When I did flat shots, I tried to post at least one picture every day. With the photoshopped stuff, I’m happy to post once every two days. It’s very time-consuming, so I post less.
T: What are your favourite locations to take photos? And why?
K: For my personal Instagram; my living room. A plain white wall is and quickest way to make and edit my photos. For Blue Roots, I love to shoot in the city.
T: People might not know this, but you’re sort of an oracle when it comes to Instagram. You always know what’s up with the platform, new algorithms, handy tools and such. Where do you get this knowledge from?
K: Haha, Oracle sounds great. Thanks! Well, there’s some sort of competition between me and Instagram (most of the time I lose 😉).
If they changed their algorithm, I need to find out what they did and how I can use it to my advantage.
I look for tips that are useful for me on Instagram. It’s a lot of reading online and watching videos on YouTube.
T: Have you ever considered offering your services as an “Instagram consultant” or something like that?
K: I’ve helped some friends and a few small companies with some Instagram photos, tips and tactics. I really liked doing that because you can see that they start to understand Instagram and enjoy doing it!
Because I got asked more and more about doing that sort of stuff, I’ve just made an appointment to register myself as a freelancer. So a shameless plug; I’m open for business! 😅
T: Any other tips you’d want to share?
K: Instagram can be frustrating sometimes. I’ve stopped posting multiple times because I couldn’t figure out what I did “wrong.” I Didn’t get any followers or likes. After a small break, I realised that I’m on Instagram to meet people and I like sharing my own (created) pictures. So I always keep in mind:
Don’t do it for the likes, do it because you like it! But that’s easier said than done!
Koen’s Denim Passion and Style
T: How did you get into raw denim?
K: I’ve had a small business in handmade wooden bow ties called StrikHout. We got an order from a dude who wanted the fabric to be the selvedge part.
That made me curious about what was so special about the whole selvedge thing. I started Googling and talking to him about denim. He then showed me why denim is such a great fabric. I bought my first pair of selvedge jeans and got into the whole history of denim.
T: What’s your favourite feature of jeans?
K: I’m a sucker for details! Once I see a brand has the details on point, I’m sold. Like the Tenue de Nîmes jeans; they stitched their logo onto the pockets and it also functions as a bar tag. Brilliant!
T: How do you wash your denim?
K: I give my jeans a hand wash after 100-150 days. When my jeans are dirty, I machine wash them at 30 degrees.
T: What’s your favourite fit? And what’s your least favourite fit?
K: It has changed in the last few years; from the vintage straight fit to a more tapered modern look. I don’t like vintage fits anymore. Currently, I’m wearing the Benzak contest jeans. The fit is perfect!
T: Which boots and leather goods do you wear with your denim?
T: Which sneakers do you wear?
T: Favourite item that’s not denim or leather?
K: My hats! It’s a part of me. I’m always wearing something on my head. In the winter for the cold, but I also think my hats give me some character. If I have to choose a favourite, it’s my Stetson flat hat!
T: Where do you buy your gear?
K: We have a Dutch eBay called ‘Marktplaats”. 9/10 of my jackets are secondhand. The other stuff I bought because I really liked it in the store or because they’ve sent it to me. Not a special place where I buy my items.
What styling tips would you give to your followers?
Ha, dude, that’s hard! I’m just a dude wearing what I like. Can’t give any styling tips about that. Sorry!