May 24, 2018 | By Lourdes Linares
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Michael Gurxa here from the Jeans & Sheux blog. The reason I’m here today is because WGSN asked me to carry out some preservation work for them. I was tasked with documenting half a dozen J&S styles from the last couple of years. Why me though? Well, they wanted somebody trusted and well respected in the denim industry, somebody who’s been around a few years and has plenty of knowledge about not only jeans, but the footwear that goes alongside them.
I’ve been wearing and documenting the rise of jeans and sheux for a while now. Initially I was sponsored via a government grant and after that received some private funding from two investment banks. I eventually outgrew these relationships and set up an award-winning blog which I’ve been fortunate enough to (so far) live off the proceeds from. Going independent was the best choice I ever made as it’s allowed me to have total control over my output.
The combos I’ve chosen for this feature are pairings I get asked about quite frequently. They also happen to be protected under UK law; about half of them are now residing in National Trust sites, the other half I’m awaiting confirmation on, though I’m confident they too will be on display so that future generations can enjoy them like we all do.
I’m starting with this and shouldn’t really need to say a great deal as it is one of the more popular choices. This is the definitive J&S look, as celebrated by literally tens of thousands of men every day. It’s also this particular style that first got me documenting jeans and sheuxsss several years ago. However, I cannot credit myself entirely as no man is an island, nor is he the Spaghetti Junction. Special dedication must be made to a number of monses for their inspiration and support.
It was Neil Armstrong who famously said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for J&S.” During this time in the 1960s those words must have baffled people, but now they seem to make sense. For me, this picture encapsulates the spirit of Neil Armstrong and reminds me why it’s important to remember the progress this planet has made in various footwear design.
I would like to say we’ve all had the good fortune of seeing one of these, but I know that isn’t true. This combo is being moved to Kew Gardens this summer to celebrate the 85th birthday of Philip van Poffertjes from Rotterdam, the grandfather of the man in this photo, a resident of Dover in Kent. Philip van Poffertjes pledged several million pounds to Oxford University as a thank you to the British J&S movement, which is not only generous but also gives an indication of just how widely received my efforts have been.
You see a lot of these in west London, particularly around Earls Court and Kensington, where they account for approximately 20% of the J&S street traffic. I suspect the reason the jeans are so long in the leg is because the J&S wearer is an affluent sort and wanted some extra material to show off in. You can never be sure though, and I’ve given up speculating.
Quite the opposite of what you see above but still enough to make you mouth-wateringly envious. A diplomat told me he encounters a lot of J&S wearers of this type when he attends gala dinners, cricketing events and awards ceremonies. I remember him acting quite haughtily when he let that slip, but I wasn’t impressed, I just kept my eyes to the floor hoping for an Archetypal to stroll by.
We have a very treasured artifact here. ‘The Stance’, revered among the J&S cognoscenti, is unquestionably one of Britain’s modern day top trumps. The bagginess of the jeans is, I think for many, an intrinsic part of our society’s fabric. This artifact will soon be on display in The Tower of London for 18 months, after which time it will be lent to MoMA in New York.
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