Upon arriving to the Self Edge shop in New York City, I met Andrew Chen, the co-owner of 3sixteen and manager of the NY Shop, and began our conversation in the tiny, warm backroom office of the shop. As Andrew deftly identified the details of some of the Sugar Cane and Iron Heart shirts on a rack in the rear of the shop, the elements that make Self Edge so unique began to congeal for me. What at first glance looked strikingly similar to vintage shirts reveal themselves to be new garments crafted with a similar attention to quality that used to be synonymous with American manufacturing. Andrew gently held up and described the materials that are sometimes produced by hand for a small batch of shirts, the thick buttons that are deadstock 60s finds (“found objects,” as Andrew called them), and on some models, the cable stitches which run off the hem and dangle in hand-braided threads. We had only been chatting for a few minutes, and his knowledge of the items on the custom-made gunmetal hangers and true appreciation for the craftsmanship became sort of infectious.
Once we moved towards the front of the store and began discussing jeans, I asked him my most pressing question: Why are some people so fetishistic about jeans? Anyone
who does even a cursory google search of some of the brands that Self Edge carriesâ€”Imperial Denim, Sugar Cane, Iron Heart, and Flat Head, for exampleâ€”inevitably comes across a forum thread with a denim fan waxing poetic about the fit and aging process of his Japanese-produced jeans. It doesn’t take long before you’re thrust into hundreds of pages about the weight of a particular piece of denim, the chainstitched hems, the intricacies of the dying process, the weaves, the loom chatter that yields irregularities, and many other terms and phrases that comprise the lexicon of the bizarre, compulsive world of raw denim. Many wearers wait months, some even a year or longer, to wash their jeans in order to accentuate the distressing and whiskering on their pairs. Effectively, as Andrew told me, this process is one that allows the wearer to personalize his jeans, as the fades become a veritable roadmap of its wearer’s unique travels. He added that there is a communal element to denim as well, as seen in threads on Superfuture and Style Forum which show photos of people from the waist down in various localesâ€”jumping over rocks in a lake, legs crossed with arms akimbo in front of a building, etc…
- Produced by: Dan Hwang | Written and Interviewed by: Jesse Carr | Photos by: Poe