Published: Monday November 2, 2015.

Dickies, David and doing

I was about to start writing a long, detailed and ultimately drawn-out post about my failing Logitech trackball. Even though I’ve started a warranty replacement for it, a 50GBP thing that’s becoming less useful each day thanks to a failing 0.25GBP microswitch that’s making the left button almost unresponsive. I’ll happily reverse a truck over the damned thing and laugh as I do it. Build quality isn’t what it used to be in the Logitech stable, sadly. Chances are fairly slim that you’re not overly concerned about the guff connected to my computer, so let’s leave it there for now.

In other news, I’m wearing my Dickies jeans. Chances are fairly slim that you you’re not overly familiar with my Dickies jeans, but that’s something I can fix. You see, when I moved to Cornwall I was in something of a haze with various unpleasant things going on in my life. I’ve come to some level of peace with the situation, and the negative urges I had to do bad things have long since subsided. In spring 2012 I bought some jeans, mostly on a whim. I’m not good at clothes shopping, but I like stuff that lasts. The Dickies jeans that I bought were tried on in a bit of a hurry, I sort of said ‘good enough’, bought them without thinking and they’ve lived in a drawer since. Truth is, they were too small. Not even close to comfortable. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And so, bottom of the drawer they went.

Today is day two of wearing them, and they fit. They fit well, actually. There’s a school of thought that if you own clothes and don’t wear them in a year or so, they need to go — charity, a sale, wherever they are better suited. After all, drawers and closets are where things go to die. When spring 2014 rolled in, I was all set to pass my jeans to a charity shop. I was all set, but I didn’t. I didn’t, because I read about Hiut. Hiut make jeans. Really, really good jeans. One day, I will own Hiut denim jeans.

I kept my Dickies because they are smaller than the largest pair of jeans that Hiut make. If I can get into my Dickies, I can get into Hiuts. Simple, really. I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember, and I’m talking 25 plus years here. With it, there’s a whole slew of extra things to contend with, most of which are self-fuelling to make things that bit more challenging:

I visited the Hiut workshop back in April as part of their open day, despite having a tick in all of the above boxes. I went with Jen, who picked up a few pairs of Hiut jeans to add to her collection of other denim. The trip was a couple of days with the travel involved, and although I was quiet overall I lost my rag a couple of times. It’s taken me this long to be able to post mortem the whole thing objectively and figure out what happened. In no particular order:

There was sour grapes because I was too big for Hiut jeans. As the first people to arrive at Hiut for their open day, we were greeted with open arms and a big table of jeans that Hiut call cutting room relics — wares that don’t quite make the grade for retail sale. Think factory outlet, but with more class and much less hoi polloi. After a quick scan of the labels, nothing was right for me. That’s code for nothing fits. I mentioned some stuff to Jen about how I didn’t have spare money and didn’t need jeans as she flipped through the piles and picked 4 pairs to try on. Jen has boundless enthusiasm and joy on her good days, and some selective hearing on occasion. Being asked 4 times if I’m going to try anything on was kind of humiliating.

Before anything else happened on the open day, I was already in a crummy mood. Hiut fans started to arrive and — at the time — I’d already (wrongly) judged them as stereotypical hipsters, and not the type of crowd I’d mix with. Truth is, I didn’t have a crowd back then, and my subsequent quiet snarkiness about the myriad iPhones, iPads and other social media weapons of choice was just…weak. Yes, there were a couple of high-grade, braying tools that came along to show off and be seen, but they were certainly in the minority.

I watched each step of the jeans-making process from raw denim being measured and cut to the finished article being stamped with its unique history tag. I fell in love with Amanda — I prefer practical doers to over-entitled mediocrity (as well dirty redheads with daddy issues, let’s not forget) — as she whizzed jeans through industrial-grade machines. I saw things being made, fixed and invented. I ate a tasty lunch and thought about how to approach Hiut to get them to increase the top-end of their sizes offered. I made the assumption that they might change for me.

Over-entitlement. Mediocrity. See what happened there? Poor show, Cooper.

In the afternoon I listened to and watched David Hieatt talk to the assembled masses at his farm about the upcoming year or so for Hiut. I’m ashamed to say I scoffed at some of the Hiut plans they had. Not publicly, not even privately with David — I’m not that kind of guy — but after I realised Hiut wasn’t for me at that time, I fell back on my extensive and varied business acumen (ahem) and decided that the stuff they wanted to do wasn’t going to work because reasons. As the afternoon draw to a close, a converted Land Rover Defender was used to make delicious sourdough pizza for about a hundred people. Had I not been so wrapped up in somebody else’s business, I’d have made more of — oh, I don’t know — THE LAND ROVER THAT MAKES SOURDOUGH PIZZA instead of picking holes in a guy’s business plan. A guy that runs a clothing company. A guy that gives out enormous amounts of free, honest advice to anyone who’s interested. A guy that epitomises honesty and integrity, at least from my faux ivory tower.

David is also a guy that, a few days later, I was compelled to email directly. Unsolicited. Unexpected. Not to bemoan the limited sizes of his jeans or the invented absurdity of his business plan, but to share something that I’d been formulating as I was munching his tasty pizza. I put an email together with a barebones idea of funding an apprentice. To his credit, he read my email and replied, and a thoughtful to-and-fro ensued. I bought his book some weeks later. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. I’ll probably read it after the Hiut Year Book 3 is shipped out in early December, which is so overdue that it’s heartwarming. Honestly, the Hiut person in charge of the Year Book needs a proper hug and some hot cocoa, it’s been quite an ordeal by all accounts.

Every now and again I think about Hiut, and I look forward to the next open day. I’ll get to hang out with Amanda again (swoon). There will be zero snark. I’ll be buying jeans, and they won’t be in the upper reaches of the sizing chart, either.

And one, perhaps soon, I’ll be a DOer.