This year, I’m celebrating the 10th anniversary of my daily denim guide Long John. Next to running Long John, I’m also working as a freelance denim specialist for brands, retail, mills and events. During the last 10 years, I have worked on the coolest denim projects, traveled to many denim destinations, worked with the best denim brands and companies, wrote thousands of stories on Long John and shared my passion for denim via my magazine and social channels every day.
As I celebrate a decade of Long John, I reflect on how I reached this milestone—and, maybe most importantly, how a passion for denim transferred into my dream job.
At the Ian Berry expo at Rijswijk Museum in Rijswijk, The Netherlands. Photo credit: Ian Berry.
As A Teen
As a kid, I wasn’t much of a student. I was more focused on skateboarding and hanging out with friends in the city. In high school, I never felt the urge to be active in class or score that good grade each time.
I remember I used to go to Rambam, a denim store local to my hometown of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, with my two older brothers who were buying vinyl records at that time. This store sold both vinyls and jeans—most of which were Levi’s 501s, as it was in the mid ’80s. Levi’s was peaking on television with its now-legendary commercials which made its jeans the ultimate must-haves. As I couldn’t afford the originals, I always scored the ones with a slightly twisted leg or a small factory error. I rocked those pairs each day until I couldn’t wear them because they were so trashed. I guess these were the first steps in my addiction to denim.
When I was around 15 years old, Italian denim brands like Diesel and Replay came to The Netherlands, and I was immediately hooked. I especially loved Diesel’s mohawk Indian branding and motorcycle and workwear approach. The brand came with something different; something I hadn’t seen before. One day, it released its special premium collection “Old Glory,” a line that was based on the Big 3 (Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler), but mixed the American heritage with a unique Italian twist. It was love at first sight, and I saved months of money to buy my first selvedge pair of jeans, and from that day forward dreamed of being part of the Diesel brand one day.
My school of denim
When I was 17, I started at a retail school, as it was the only line of work I could envision for myself. I dreamed of having my own denim store, so it seemed like the best approach. During school, I needed an internship, and soon I had the opportunity to start at Diesel, as it had just opened its first flagship store in Eindhoven. After a while, I was asked to extend my schedule to the weekends, holiday periods and after school—my denim dream had come true. At this point, my obsession with denim took off. My school of denim had started, and it changed my life.
In front of the Diesel Store in London in the nineties.
After graduating school and simultaneously working at Diesel for six years, I bounced between several different marketing and sales positions within the fashion and footwear space. In 2011, I had conjured up my 20 years of fashion experience and decided to venture off on my own. I made a blog, Long John, to showcase denim and authentic denim-related products that I came across due to the huge international network that I had built over the years. Soon, my first consultancy jobs came while writing articles. I realized that this was something that made me really happy.
The Rise Of Denim Projects
On Long John, I started Worn-Out Projects, a series that showcased denim heads’ beaten-up jeans in an expo format during the Dutch fashion trade show Modefabriek in Amsterdam. This was a perfect online-meets-offline project, and also a step that paved the way for similar opportunities in the future.
Denim expo curated at the Denim Days in Amsterdam.
That project launched the site in the right direction. More and more brands, retailers and mills worldwide requested that I highlight their latest collections and developments on Long John. Retailers asked if I could train their store staff and educate and inspire them with denim. Store events also became more popular, as it was all about providing a unique retail experience, so I organized those as well, calling on my network of craftspeople that showcased their brands in stores.
Giving a denim worshop for retailer Score and Chasin’.
I’m fortunate that, after 10 years of Long John, I’m still doing what I love the most and working with denim on so many different levels. Each day, I still highlight the last updates within the denim industry, but I’m also working on various kinds of projects that keeps things exciting. I oscillate between creating inspiring content for social platforms, developing unique stories on Long John and brand’s websites, creating attractive concepts for stores and brands, working on future denim developments and so on. I never would have thought that my denim passion would make it this far. After 10 years, I’m still growing, learning each day and meeting like-minded people that share the same passion for authentic craftsmanship in denim.
I’m ready for the next 10 years, and I’m looking forward to continuing my Long John denim journey.