Something incredible is happening in Jakarta, Indonesia. A denim subculture is on the rise and people like Jason Widjaja, creator of Blue States Denim Co., are leading the charge. I stumbled upon Blue States Denim Co. by accident. I was falling into the K-Hole that is Instagram and under the tag #Selvedge I came across a pair or really interesting jeans worn by Anthony Pellegrino Torok (@x_apt_x), the Velvet Mamba. I was intrigued.
A simple message to Jason turned into lengthy conversation about denim, our pups and what Blue States Denim was all about. Holy shit, has Jason accomplished quite a lot since emerging on to the global denim scene only four short years ago, including opening his own store front in Jakarta as well as a collaboration with the famed Robin Denim!
Blue States Denim Co. works with high-quality Indonesian denim fabrics, which have been woven close to their hometown in Jakarta. Their denim is exclusive to the brand, have interesting finish that set them apart from much of the denim scene and have great fading potential which I am experiencing first-fucking-hand. Blue States Denim Co. cuts are slim, and at least in the pair I bought, have a lower rise, yielding an overall more modern fit.
Co-Author and Senior Author, Tristan Chamberlin and I like to take risks, so we both decided to roll the dice on a pair of Blue States Denim Co. “Thunder Roosters,” the review of which will follow this interview in the next week; including two perspectives, one from myself and the other from, you smarty pants, that’s right, Tristan. However, on initial impressions alone, I like what Blue States Denim Co. has to offer.
What follows is an interview with the man himself, and we deep dive into Blue States Denim Co. as a brand, how he got to where he is now and exactly what it takes to stay relevant in today’s crowded market. Ladies and gentlemen, Jason Widjaja and Blue States Denim Co.
The Arcuate: Jason, everything we know about Blues Sates Denim Co. is limited to Instagram and our interaction with you through casual messaging, but I’d say most of our readers are either lightly or unfamiliar with you and Blue States Denim Co. Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
BSDC: Well, I’m a 24-year-old guy, eldest son of 4 brothers, living in the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta! I went to a local University in Southern City of China for my bachelor’s degree in business. I became in charge of family’s business in 2014, that was my second year in the College. Living abroad simply forced me to learn more and deal with business stuff.
TA: Tell us more about Blue States Denim Co. For Example, where is the brand based, where did the name come from, who else is involved and how long have you been around as a brand?
BSDC: Blue States Denim Co. is based in western part of Jakarta City. The Blue States Denim Co. name itself came with two meanings. As we know, “Blue” classically represents denim/jeans and “States” because we were inspired by the Wild Spirit of American Old-School Tattoo Design.
We also fell in love with the American 80’s Rock ‘n Roll era especially, Mötley Crüe, Guns n Roses, Kiss, Metallica etc. Their lyrics, music, and history embodied rebellion and romance; This is the very inspiration our brand and how we try to deliver a message/meaning for each article clothing & way of design! This is our third year as a brand, my younger brother has also involved in Blue States Denim Co. since it started.
TA: When you started Blue States Denim Co., what was your vision for the brand and where did you draw inspiration from?
BSDC: We always wanted to see people, especially men, feel the “badass” vibes & look while wearing our products. We wanted people to recognize our brand once they saw the “Eye of The Tiger” arcuate on our jeans and immediately identify the brand as Blue States Denim Co. The vision for the brand itself is to be well known worldwide and let the giant companies out there sit up and be well-aware of our existence!
TA: How did Selvedge/raw denim become part of your life and why did it make such a big impact on you? What was your first pair?
BSDC: That when I was in senior year of High School (around 7 years ago), when Nudie Jeans were really popular and quite expensive for a student. My parents didn’t let me buy them, they thought it was not worth spending 185 bucks for unwashed and soon-to-be dirty jeans, ha-ha.
I ended up meeting one of Nudie’s retailers here and started connecting them to some of my friends. The profit from the sale of Nudie jeans to those friends is where I got the money for my first pair of raw denim, Nudie Tight Long John’s – Recycle Dry Power!
TA: How did you transition from being a denimhead to running a denim brand? What was that journey like?
BSDC: I almost couldn’t feel the transition since I still enjoy being a denimhead & running a denim brand at the same time. In a lot of ways, I don’t think that transition has happened; I’m just a lucky denimhead making jeans to feed the passion.
TA: You guys have physical store that just opened, shortly after the opening you were struck by a natural disaster, how did that impact the launch of the store and how quickly were you able to recover? What helped that recovery?
BSDC: Luckily the tsunami happened after we “officially launched” the shop, so it didn’t impact our guests, family, friends or customers. It did have impact for the customers who wanted to stop by the next day and snatch-up some of store’s properties that we just bought, ha-ha. It took two or more weeks for the recovery. Luckily, we have a solid staff who were willing to help during those times and got us back up and running!
TA: How has the COVID-19 Pandemic impacted your shop, business and your country? What strategies are you using to keep things moving forward?
BSDC: Actually, the pandemic didn’t really impact our business on the sales side, since we do a lot of our business through online sales. But to local business, it did impact a lot because we weren’t able to run and operate as usual.
To us, this pandemic had more impact on our production side; our manufacturing place needs to deal with half-time and half-staff to work, while the workload has simultaneously increased.
We haven’t put too much on our employees so they still can keep themselves healthy and do their job well during this tough situation.
TA: So, Tristan and I both were introduced to Blue States Denim Co. through social media and a mutual friend who bought a custom pair of Velvet Mambas from you. How impactful have social media outlets been to your success and how did you gain momentum and how has it helped your reach in countries like the United States?
BSDC: To be honest, social media is really impactful and helpful for our business. Nowadays, probably 80% of our customers have found us through social media. We’re grateful to be born in this Social Media era.
To gain a momentum, it depends of your own way of delivering the content and product. Social media made it way easier to be connected with worldwide customers, including the United States. Even though we currently don’t have any US based stores (hopefully soon, been planning for it) or in other countries, we are still able to connect those markets to our products!
TA: Let’s talk about some of your unique products. We, Tristan and I, ended up buying your Indigo wrap x Black Weft “Thunder Rooster” jeans. The “Royal Phantom” was an Indigo x Royal Purple denim. Basically, you guys have some really cool offerings. How do you decide on fabrics and where do you tend to source your denim?
BSDC: Glad to hear that! Basically, Blue States Denim Co. as a brand always wanted to present our product differently from others and we believe that love at first sight does exist, so we keep on working in something special on each article that we make to make it attention grabbing.
We partnered up with several mills in Japan, China and Indonesia for the fabric. All the fabrics that we order from these mills are exclusively made for Blue States Denim Co., which helps us stand apart from competition!
TA: What is next for Blue States Denim Co.; do you have new products, collaborations or design ideas?
BSDC: We’ll be releasing a lot of new items, for example the Scuderia 17oz vs Shelby 17oz Series, Osaka Tiger 20oz Special Japanese Series, Wardogs 22oz, Rocketwolf 19oz Red Side Dot Selvedge and Black Jaeger 22.5oz, which comes with Black Selvedge Line. We have so many new products coming.
On the collaboration side, we are hoping to have a collaboration with Pioneer, California pomade brand, Suavecito, which is very exciting.
TA: It sounds like collaboration is important to you and there may be something to Blues States Denim Co. collaborations that has helped develop your success. What is most important to you as a brand owner in terms of product development? What does a brand need in order to succeed in today’s denim market?
BSDC: Never stop researching, learning, and I guess you have to look up to several brands as your role model. Sometimes, in this Fashion Industry, you have to decide to follow the trend or make your own.
In order to survive in today’s denim market, firstly a brand needs to deliver their concept and establish their roots to target the right audience, obviously with the perfect way and timing.
The other important point is, you don’t need to be such a geek and stubborn with your idealism. There’s nothing wrong with being an idealist, but at some point, you need to accept the reality of business instead. The last important thing to accept for success, there needs to be more action and execution than sleeping in your plan!
TA: What you’re saying is work hard, sacrifice or compromise where you can accept it and sleep when you’re dead! I like it. So, just out of curiosity, which part of the world has supported your brand the most, in other words, where have you had the most success globally?
BSDC: Our Motherland, Indonesia currently rule our business the most, second one is the USA; that’s the main reason why we’ve been planning to open up a store in America. The third largest group of supporters have been the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Austria.
TA: What’s the longest you’ve gone without washing a pair of jeans and how abused did your friends and family have to make you feel before you caved?
BSDC: 1 year 8 months! I found it on the washing machine on day and took the hint…I gave up and gave in.
TA: What is the most embarrassing song on your phone right now?
BSDC: “Splish Splash,” by Bobby Darin! Hahahah, oh man. LOL!
TA: Jason, that took a lot of bravery to share that. Ha-Ha, thank you. Well, it’s that time. We like to end every interview with a game called “Two Truths and a Lie,” where you tell us two truths and a lie about you. Don’t tell us which are true, and which is a lie. We will guess and follow up a week after we post and then post the results on our Instagram feed!
BSDC: I am a bigger fan of Barcelona rather than Real Madrid.I speak 5 languages: Bahasa, Chinese, English, Cantonese, and Dutch. I prefer Mexican cuisine over Japanese cuisine.
To see the current line sheet offering and/or order from Blue States Denim Co., e-mail Jason at email@example.com. Also, follow what Jason and Blue Stated Denim Co. are up to, check out @bluestatesdenim and his personal account @jasonwidjajaa on Instagram!
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