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ROY X CONE contest, 1.1.11 - 2.1.12

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We are proud to announce a collaboration between America's finest denim craftsman and America's (and probably the world's) most exalted denim mill:

the ROY x CONE contest.

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THis has been in progress for many months now, inspired by Roy pioneers roy6 & rnrswitch, intrepid deutsch metal guru almostnice and paul t. It matches a completely new, custom design ROY jean, with k87211, a one-off denim by Cone exclusively developed for this contest.

Contest starts on January 1, 2011 and runs to January 2, 2012.

ROY's design is "inspired by the fabric." He spent a long time mulling over it: then unleashed on us something totally unique. He's put a huge amount of work into this and we're grateful to him.

Special thanks also to Ralph Tharpe, Director of Technical Design at Cone. We discussed this idea months ago, immediately came up with what we thought was a cool option - something with an old-school look, loomstate, using their Black Seed (pima) fill, and he cut through all the paperwork and did it super-fast. Kara at Cone was absolutely crucial in making this happen.

Remember, this competition isn't just for the participants. It's to celebrate these two denim powerhouses!

Quick points:

1: THis is for people who will wear these jeans, no closet keepers.

2: Do not hassle Roy; he's busy.

3: Each person who gets a pair promises to provide photo updates. These might be used by Roy, or Cone on their website, and of course to give us a happening SuFU thread.

4: Re sizing; follow Roy's advice, but it's your decision. These are a labor of love for Roy. Don't hassle him, or us, please.

Sorry, no more pairs are available. Roy's original jeans, plus his new slim fit model, at all now available from Selfedge

TELL ME ABOUT THE FABRIC!

Anyone who's been checking out the ROY thread will have seen the teasers. K87211 is a vintage-style fabric but in a heavier weight - 14 oz after washing - with a Black Seed (Pima/Sea Island/ G.Barbadense) cotton fill. It is completely loom-state - no singeing, extra starch or size-ing or skewing - and of course is pure indigo-dyed. We're especially lucky to have this, because CONE only supply their specific, vintage-style fabrics to Levi's; modifying their Black Seed and producing something old school was a great opportunity to involve us all in a unique denim experiment.

This fabric embodies Cone's heritage - it is a dark, streaky, greeny-grey denim that will darken up considerably after soaking, then as it wears will show turquoise green highlights before turning to white. We believe it will be a slow-wearing denim, a real contrast to some of the Japanese denim which is designed to crock heavily. But as for how it will really look after a year's wear - we don't know. This is a denim excursion into the unknown.

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"We did something cool here"

Q&A with Roy Slaper, on how the contest jeans happened

How did the inspiration for this design arrive?

It was really just the fabric that told me what it should be. I knew it would be a cinchback. Then there's the front pockets, that are kind of a slash pocket, although they've got a curve to them. I don't know if you're like me, but I never know what to do with my hands, and if I'm wearing a 5 pocket jean, having my hands in the pockets isn't very comfortable. When you're standing there with your hands in the pockets, in these jeans, it's very comfortable.

The cinch is a distinctive shape, there are precedents but I don't know anything as streamlined.

I've never seen one just like this, it was a idea I had, I wasn't sure if I could make it work 'cos the fabric is a little bulky when there are so many layers so it was tricky*–* a lot of trial and error. You can get anything to work – but I wanted it to look clean. It wound up looking very clean; exactly what I'd envisioned.

Were the buckles tricky to get hold of?

I almost didn't get them... my friend who makes jeans too was working at a sewing customisation shop and one day told me, they've got a darning machine and it wasn't working right. I said I'll come over and work on it, really just for fun. Now my friend's really funny, he's really friendly but can be forward in an intimidating way, his other job is bouncing at clubs; 6 foot five - big guy; I'd fixed the machine and he said to the guy, in an aside: we have to do something for Roy and he said it in the affirmative, you know. And I said, don't give me any money –*you'll get me back. Then a couple days went by and I started thinking about the contest jeans, and I was, What the hell am I gonna do? Where do I get buckles? So I'm thinking, I bet there's some buckles in the customisation shop somewhere.

Now my friend doesn't care about vintage jeans, he starts looking – and sending me pictures he'd taken on his phone of all types of belt buckles! I said, Go upstairs and find a pair of jeans that has a buckle across the waist band. Do you have any buckles look like that? [Eventually] he sent me a picture of our buckle that he found in a jar. He started digging around and said, I got 32. I had only just committed to doing 30 jeans. So I said , well - do you think he'd give me those? My friend says, Fuck, take them. and I said, You don't understand! These are gonna be on TV! Like, what if the guy cared about those? So my friend talked to him and eventually we got... perfunctory permission. I'm assuming he was cool with it.

But it was all for the greater good.

Exactly, it was not for my own gain. So, when I got them and they were grey, I wanted them to match the buttons, I used the exact same process that the button manufacturer does, a Selenic and Phosphoric acid which chemically blackens them. Its like gun blue that you treat the barrel with. It ended up taking a while, which was fine 'cos I was into how it was gonna look.

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What else was time-consuming about the production?

The construction of the belt piece and the cinch took a long time. There's this [old] tool I have for turning a collar, you sew them inside out then turn them right side out. Man, if I didn't have that I would not have been able to do it. But it was still a lot of fooling around.

Did you learn new stuff making these?

I learn stuff every day, so it's hard not to. I still have so much to learn. There's other stuff, weird sequences, the patch inside is straddled by the back belt loop and cinch but it's not sewn through, so it was learning how to get the machinery to do what I wanted. And the waistband's quite thin, only an inch and a quarter... the [prototype] pair has a taller waistband, but strangely that extra quarter inch made the jeans look corny. Also I had to figure out how to chalk the back pocket, with my existing jeans I can freehand it, with these it had to be exact. And doing the boxers was a huge learning curve – I got to use one of the first machines I got hold of, this weird old ass machine from Self Edge (I just answered an add on craigslist), that they didn't know what it was. It took me some time to realise it was for underwear!

We talked about duck pocketing early on, and you didn't seem keen?

I didn't want to commit to anything. I'm learning more about my creative process – how I need to go in, in a vacuum. If I talk to people about what what would be cool it inhibits me, so I pretend nothing's happening and it seems to work pretty good. I felt in this situation, cotton duck was just fitting. It worked well with the denim, it meant every bit of fabric in the project was Cone, including the chambray for the boxers – it was fitting. Most importantly it worked. When I washed the jeans everything worked well together. I put a lot of thought into pocketing, The pocketing I use on my regular jeans is special, it's a very involved process. Once these duck pockets get worn in, you will love how they feel in your hands.

It was great how Ralph commented that using the Pima coton for a gnarly denim yarn was positively sinful.

I thought that was hilarious!

The positioning of the watch pocket is unusual.

I did so many versions. At one point there were two, three little compartments and it was all really annoying. Then I had the fifth pocket up on the fingernails side of your hand and it was horrible - almost impossible to get keys or change out. So I found a place that is perfect. With a slash pocket I was concerned about things falling out, and this has a ridge that should make it a safe... a keeping place.

Ralph told me, early on, that shade of the denim wasn't to your taste?

At first [it] looked weird to me, but that was independent of the construction, the hand, all those characteristics. But that was when it was rigid – after washing, then when I wore these for a month, it totally changed, the color looks awesome. I was impressed, too, how it works as far as not stretching out, and not getting baggy at the knees. I love the way the fabric behaves, because of that lack of tension Ralph mentioned. I would love all denim to behave and feel like this.

You've put an incredible amount of work into these jeans. Will you do a regular production version?

I don't have any more buckles so I don't think that's gonna happen. But at the same time - No! I hate when people do that! You know the Mazda Miata was supposed to be a special edition? People bought it thinking it was a limited release car – now you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one (Ed. note: this "fact" is likely a total fabrication). But when they came out they were really cool. I'll probably use the basic pattern [again], like the World Tour jeans are basically the same basic fit, but without the cinch back and exposed rivets, plus different denim. To make this pattern again and sell it would take away from the competition. And we did something cool here.

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A sinful thing: Q&A with Ralph THarpe

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Photo courtesy eltopo

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Ralph Tharpe, at the White Oak factory in Greensboro, which has been producing denim for a century. Your denim could have been made on the very Draper loom he's standing next to. Possibly.

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How do you think the fabric came out?

I love it. Roy sent me a pair way before for testing. Mine has the big ROY patch on the back.. his conventional jeans, but made with the loomstate fabric. And I tell you I am really liking them. And the hand is incredible because of the properties of the G. barbadense cotton in the weft.

Where is the cotton in the warp yarns from?

Probably Carolinas cotton – I'm not 100% sure. I know Texas cotton is a big thing in Japan at the moment and some of the best cotton in the world is grown in that state – but it depends on what you buy, there is a huge diversity, and there are real problems with some Texas cotton at the moment, due to the weather the tops of the plants were damaged, and much of the available fiber is rather coarse, opposite of what we need for nice ring spun yarns.

And the Pima cotton for the fill yarn?

That's probably grown in California or possibly Arizona. G. barbadense is a different species than regular upland cotton. The first successful variety was known as Sea Island Cotton which was grown on the coast of Georgia –*and the Carolinas. The seed migrated to Egypt to become Egyptian long staple, and then back to the US to become pima (named for the Pima indians of Arizona). Upland cotton was not really very successful until the invention of the cotton gin. THis fiber is longer, stronger, and finer than regular cotton, highly prized today for fine yarns. Cone just went back to this cotton with the thought that perhaps some early denims were made with Sea Island. It sure makes a great denim yarn!

Tell me about the dyeing.

It's traditional rope dyeing.. but there is a special secret technique applied that puts a little bit more dye on some of the yarn than others; it really simulates the ways that old fabrics looked from when they were dyeing in the old vats. In the old vat you don't have a consistent feed of the dye so it has a little more on one end of the rope than the other end. Then they do the second dip in the opposite direction so it evens out - but that never is completely the case, so in a lot of vintage denim you get that streaky appearance which is the dye and yarn in combination. Most people use twist of the yarn and mixing of yarns to replicate this differential dye uptake but Cone have a special technique they use – it's a secret I'm forbidden to pass on!

When you were putting the fabric on the loom you told me you were wondering whether to add a couple of picks. What effect would that have?

I wanted to make sure we got the right tightness of construction. Too many weft yarns per inch, the fabric can become too cardboard, too stiff. If you don't put enough then the fabric feels too open and too floppy. Although that floppy look is very popular right now. But the softness in this fabric is coming from the properties of that PIma.

There's a slight flame or variation to the fabric, tell me about that.

This is an effect you get on vintage fabrics but we don't get see that too much - because after they're worn it more or less disappears. Whenever you have a break on the spinning frame you would have what is called a lap; the cotton would begin to lap around a roll and at some point it could even damage the setting on the machine, even bend the roller and that would cause this heavy light, heavy light streakiness. And this fabric has some of that in there. We were trying to make the appearance as authentic as possible, not too even, not too slubby.

So you were aiming for an authentic look, without the exaggerated slubbiness you'll see on some selvage denim?

Exactly. When you see some of that exaggerated slubbiness - it's the difference between listening to a very fine recording on vinyl, and listening to the cell phone. You can tell this thing's not making the sound the way it should be. The same is true with the computer slubbiness. Slub that comes from a computer is only as good as the guy that designs it. Cone has the very best guy in the whole world in that field and his name is Allen Little. He's the one designed the yarn that went into this fabric. His picture can be found in the piece on Cone that was in Lightning Magazine.

Was this fabric all milled on one single Draper loom or several?

The ROY fabric was all from one loom; I didn't record the number of the loom - I should have!

You know there's some Cone cotton duck in the detailing of these jeans. Have you learned much about that fabric since Cone started reproducing it?

That duck was developed some time ago with Levi's. I was asking Neil [bell, of Levi's], why do I have to put the selvage line so far from the edge, and he was simply saying, That's the way I want it. Then Michael Harris sent me a scrap he'd found of the old yarn fabric from the turn of the century or before. The damn thing was made exactly like Neil wanted me to make. Brown duck with a black selvage line.. and the selvage line is away and on the outside of the garment. And this is in a scrap from the late 1800's.. it's unbelievable.

I was doing research, in the Callaway Textile Dictionary and elsewhere, looking up the particular weaves and it referred me to sailcloths. So I looked at the sail cloth definition and it said, in the UK the stuff was 24 inches wide, in the US 22 inches wide, and then they were 10 oz per linear yard - and it said there was a line in the fabric that was the guide for sewing the pieces together when making sails. The further the line is from the edge, the heavier the product. So without any question, things made from cotton duck with the line further away are Sail Fabrics!It is beautiful! I want to do more research on sailcloth, the dyeing et cetera. But can you imagine, in San Francisco in the 1870s, how there would be tons and tons of sailcloth around?

Was Cone making duck at the turn of the century?

Probably, i sure wish the sample book from 1896 had not been lost - I don't know if they kept the selvage further away like that.

Did you enjoy working with ROY?

He was great. He has always been so… insistent that he use the CONE fabric he wanted to. I hope he enjoys making these jeans out of loom state.

Tell me more about the Pima fill; how does that affect the feel?

The other thing about that yarn is that it has a very low twist. It makes the fabric look smoother. In that way it's like the exact opposite of the 1980s XX. The old XX marbles and gets the orange peel because of all the internal tensions as it's washed. The lower the twist, the smoother the fabric - and the more authentic. Fabrics today are made with very high level of internal energy – they're very nervous, uptight, so when you throw them in the water they go nuts, crinkle up, produce that orange peel effect. Fabrics made in the old way were woven more gently on the slower looms, with less tension.The Japanese call it gentle weaving. Cone looms are making gentle weaving every day.

That's poetry!

I know! And the weft yarn in the old days was spun directly on the the bobbin that goes into the shuttle. Because of that it was done at a very low twist. So that fabric was a lot more relaxed, it didn't have a lot of nervous energy. If you wore it in the normal way it would be both smoother and softer than anything we see today. That's why the pima fabric is so authentic, and soft, because of the twist and the cotton.

You mentioned this might be the last project that uses that particular yarn?

I don't believe there's any left now, and I'm not sure we could make any more because the price on the Pima now is about double what it was when we bought it. It's a very expensive proposition to make a heavy denim yarn out of that really nice cotton. It's probably a sin! That fibre is supposed to be used in yarns that are 80, 90, 100, 150, really fine shirting. To make a plain, old coarse denim yarn from it is probably a sinful thing. But we did it anyway.

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Ralph Tharpe's Roy prototypes: The ROY Mk1 design, in k87211

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All these detail photos courtesy eltopo

Contestant list as of 17.11.10, with locations

1- dr. house Germany

2- Dr_Heech The Cotswolds, UK

3-Entertainment New Jersey, USA

4-Joseph Hill Seattle, Washington, USA

5-Zissou Logan, Utah, USA

6-eltopo Ohio, USA

7-Fardin Vienna, Austria

8-Riff Canada

9-Sansome1877 Bakersfield, Ca, USA

10-Rnrswitch Camarillo, Ca, USA

11-almostnice Hamburg, Germany

12-PaulT London, UK

13-Roy6 San Francisco, Ca, USA

14-shortylong Elkins, West Virginia, USA

15-Dkatz Kampala, Uganda

16-Erk Greeneville, NC, USA

17-Cash Sugar House, Utah, USA

18-Ranonranonarat Singapore

19-Pomata, Verona, Italy

20-DocBlue Paris, France

21-Fre$co Hertfordshire, UK

22-TG76 New Zealand

23-TheClerk Brighton, UK

24-Medine Chicago, Illinois, USA

25-aho USA

26-robbie Lexington, Nebraska, USA

27-ThisSunday Queens, NYC, USA

28-Mikechh Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

29-Farhad- Los Angeles, Cal, USA

30-Lostinthesupermarket Dublin, Ireland

Where are those ROYs?

You can find their location on this Google Map courtsey of dkatz.

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Really want to drop out of the Eternal contest to join you bastards...wish I'd known

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Nvm...

P.S. I spy 'cinchback' in the tags...

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Thank God, a good ROY thread again!!! Sorry I passed on it a while back but I will be following you bastards every day!!!

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Really want to drop out of the Eternal contest to join you bastards...wish I'd known

Again, sorry. THis has always been up in the air. We didn't know for certain we were going to get the denim. Once we knew we were getting the denim, ROY was in the middle of production for SelfEdge and he kept everything under his hat. WHen we knew the fabric was a goer, I started posting photos. WE only knew the competition itself was a goer and got the info from ROY at around 9pm this evening.

We will get back to everybody, as mentioned in our first reply PM, tomorrow afternoon European time, morning US time. Please bear with us, looks like we will have a lot of requests to juggle in a short time.

What if we have way too many orders?

As mentioned, there will be some priority for those who signed up, sight and price unseen. But if they don't get back to us asap, they will lose out too. Once we're nearly full up and there are only a few places left, we will give consideration to people's location etc - we will want a variety of different people and places for this thread, and for Cone's blog. SO if you are somewhere interesting - urban, exotic, whatever, tell us. It might help. All things being equal, we will also favor people who aren't involved in other contests, and who can honestly state they will wear these jeans, not keep them in a closet.

ROY and CONE have done this purely as a good will event, so we want to repay them with a happening thread.

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loom-state denim? delicious. i hope the pricing is interesting as this is a ROY.

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Must recharge, and spread but certainly a BIG + rep for all involved parties.

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The pricing IS interesting, actually. But can you put a price on pure gold? Well, you can, actually, but these ROYs are as they say priceless, and talk of money only sullies them.

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you bastard paul t im in how much ? you charging us in sterling pounds?

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Fucking awesome idea. Wish I had known. might have been able to prioritize funds to participate, can't wait to see where this goes though!

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THanks for replies. Bedtime for me, make sure you PM roy6 or rnrswitch over the next few hours, cc me and almostnice.

WE will be checking and collating all the PMs v roughly Wednesday morning, West Coast time. Then we will be putting people in touch with ROY (complete with codeword) from tomorrow night.

Cheers folks, night night, and again, special thanks to Ralph Tharpe and Roy, and please don't hassle Roy directly with this.

Last FAQ

Who do I PM?

Roy6 over the next few hours. He will supply the password to get info on the jeans

THEN WHAT?

If you want to participate, tell us. If you can, give us an idea of where you are geographically etc, it might make a difference.

WHEN DO I KNOW I'M IN THE 30

Not before tomorrow morning West Coast time. THanks for your forbearance. We would have liked ROY to do more than 30 jeans, but he's a hard-working one-man-denim-phenomenon who only has so much spare time.

IF I'M IN THE 30 WHEN DO I PAY?

Wait till you hear from me, via email, before you worry about this.

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this is good news. should have made the end of contest on 21.12.12 so we can all be wearing Roys on Doomsday

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Has PaulT finally gone to bed? Good. Now I can tell you, the best way into a judges heart is by bribing them heavily and often with rep. I'm talking rnrswitch and me, here, as almostnice is probably passing out right about now.

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In. I forgot to CC everyone in the first PM.. so I sent a second PM CCing everyone.. (excluding the person I already sent a PM at first)

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This is going to be wonderful. Thank you all for putting this contest together!

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I was about to send my PM in, but I'm a 38-40W in jeans now and hope to be down to a 34 at the most by the middle of 2011 - I'd love to put a pair of contest Roys through a Texas summer of working construction, but if they're 4-6" too big in the waste in seven months, that would suck (for me and the contest).

Sounds like an amazing project/contest, though. Good lookin' out to everyone involved.

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Almost missed out on this...damn flight delays and no internet so I couldn't check my e-mail! I hope I made the 30???

Again, thanks to all involved for setting this up and also the heads up...Too good to pass up!

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So I didn't realize at first ,But I will get to chronicle my 25th year of life with this jean.

Thank you so much to everyone involved with the creation of this jean.

-RF

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Cool contest! Can't join as I am rotating enough denim as it is, but I will be watching this!

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This is a contest for grown up men. Enjoy , guys - will be watching this very closely as I predict an epic battle

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