The Selvedge Denim community has been a welcoming one. As someone who was an outsider not so long ago, I have been amazed by how open the community can be. Moreover, starting as a content creator, I was sure I was going to struggle for contacts, outlets, and interviewees. However, not unlike the community as a whole, I was shocked at how many makers were willing to give me the time of day.
Amongst the first? Johan Blom and Jannis Hoff of SoSo have been incredibly open, engaged, and willing to discuss their products, denim culture, and the community in general. Having run a clothing brand in an unrelated industry for a decade and getting nowhere when it came to networking (OK, not entirely, but fuck me standing, it wasn’t easy), I was delighted when a relationship with these guys and their brand came effortlessly and without strings.
It is no secret that I have written a handful of pieces on their products and their processes. My reviews have been favorable, not because I feel obligated but because, dammit, they make a beautiful product. Not many brands offer a bespoke denim option at a price that is within reach of most. Shit, let’s be real; there are plenty of makers that only provide standard fits that are well beyond the financial grasp of the very audience workwear was once explicitly aimed.
Shocking, but calling something “slow fashion,” and somehow, the price tag now gets to escalate. Yes, I realize there are a lot of determining factors that go into that, not the least of which, by the way, is perceived value. No, I don’t particularly care to debate those factors at this moment; I’m merely stressing a point that for the money, quality, and level of customization, I don’t think there are many better options.
These are the exact types of brands we like to cover. While this thought will likely be unpopular, I feel compelled to make it. While the rest of the selvedge world seems to be slowly going the way of the mattress industry (same guts, different name), brands like SoSo, Choochai, NAMA, Blues States and CMBD are at least trying to carve a unique path through a growing crowd.
At the risk of running off on a tangent (did someone say squirrel?), I am going to redirect myself to the matter at hand. I find myself fortunate to have conversations with makers weekly, but I tend to speak with Jannis almost daily. He recently divulged a new and exciting secret project SoSo is undertaking and has been excellent enough to discuss it publicly with us at The Arcuate first. I am going to turn to the interview at hand at the risk of robbing him of the pleasure of making the announcement himself, I get some answers to questions that have been burning in my brain and let Jannis drop the new product bomb on all of us!
Hello, Jannis Hoff of SoSo!
The Arcuate: Jannis, welcome, and thank you so much for taking the time to answer more of my questions. I feel like you must be getting sick of me! You’re quite the busy man lately. Not only are you running SoSo operations in Thailand, but you recently underwent a big move from Bangkok. What triggered the change, and how will it impact your work for SoSo?
Jannis Hoff: Hi, Grant. Thank you for having me. It’s been a joy to read the pieces on The Arcuate, so the pleasure is all mine being here answering your questions.
I have lived in Thailand for 11 years and all those in Bangkok. Its been a blast and Bangkok is truly a one of a kind city, but Thailand is so much more than concrete and traffic jams. Nature, the mountains, and the slightly cooler weather in the north of Thailand made me move. When you add a puppy need for a house, which is challenging to have in Bangkok, and you have my reasons for relocation.
It won’t have any negative impact for SOSO. On the contrary, finally, I can wear heavy denim up here thanks to the colder climate so look our for me in the next Indigo Invitational fade contest 😉
TA: It seems like you guys have been on a roll with new products, new customization options and more new denim choices than you could shake a stick at, Would you consider this an average pace for new releases at SoSo or is this being triggered by something else?
JH: We are blessed by being able to work closely with the same denim factory in Bangkok since the beginning of SOSO. They are incredibly skillful and have the same mindset as us when it comes to pushing the limits of anything denim, and they know, as well as we do, that in such a saturated market as this one, you gotta stand out from the crowd.
The world is hurting at the moment, and we think it is crucial to push forward and show strength. Now is not the time to lay down and give up but to show confidence to our customers so that they know that we aren’t going anywhere.
TA: You recently introduced arcuates (two varients at that) for both front and back pockets; unless I’m mistaken, this is the first time you’ve offered this option. What brought that about, and what was the inspiration behind the designs?
JH: Most denim brands have their own signature arcuates, and for a long time, we wanted to keep our back pockets clean. But we got several requests for arcuates and who are we to stand in the way of what our customers want. Many of the options that we offer today come from customers’ requests. Many companies talk about placing the customer in focus, but we wanted to take that one step further and actually letting the customer decide how their denim should look like.
Regarding the design of the arcuates, you gotta ask my wife. We gave her free reign.
TA: These are particular details that seem build on a brand that is already very detail-focused, between jacket lining, pocket bag variants, stitching, buttons, and more. For someone like me, who truly believes the devil is in the details, this creates a veritable playground when it comes to creating bespoke pieces, how much of that was your intent when you created “custom way,” and does the expansion of options still fit into your vision for the brand?
JH: When we started the custom way, I don’t think we could imagine it being as extended as it is today with jeans, chinos, shirts, jackets, and waistcoats…all customizable with tons of extras. Still, I’m happy that we pushed ourselves towards where we are today and, for example, actually made 20 instead of 3 thread colors available.
While we need to supply plenty of options for our customers, there is a fine line with “too” many options making it overwhelming, especially for a person who enters our site for the first time.
So while we don’t want to remove features for those that are comfortable with our system, we have implemented steps on the website for those that “I just want a pair of jeans.”
TA: How much pressure do you feel to continue to find ways to expand customization options, and do you think there is a happy place on which you and Johan feel you could settle and not need to find more or the next thing?
JH: Hehe. Sometimes in our meetings, we say, “shit, we haven’t released anything new in a week,” and slightly panic. Still, it’s essential to take a step back sometimes and let each new fabric/product or development settle in with the customers, before pushing out new things.
Perhaps we are releasing some things too fast sometimes or too close to each other, but that’s just because we are so eager to let everyone see what we have in store. Gotta work on that patience.
TA: This kind of drives me to the matter at hand, you’ve been alluding to but have yet to announce; Jannis, what the hell is “the next thing” for SoSo?
JH: Haha, I wish there were better emojis in Word. Not being a professional content writer like yourself, Grant, I rely on emojis to express my feelings 😀 (there’s one).
But yeah, back to “the next big thing.” As I mentioned in a previous answer, we are always listening to our community when it comes to releasing new things, and one wish that we hear often is for SOSO to make proprietary fabrics. We did the 33.14oz – The Breaker of Legs last year, and it truly made waves in the denim community, and now its time again but this time a bit different kind of fabric.
A 100% hand-dyed and woven on non-mechanical Indonesian artisan made vintage shuttle loomed 22oz selvedge denim from a small family-owned workshop in Indonesia.
TA: Well, holy shit! How the hell does something like hand-woven, hand-dyed denim even happen, and how did SoSo get to this place?
JH: The process is definitely meticulous with the cotton yarns dipped several times in natural indigo and tree bark. It’s then hand-woven on a classic Projectile loom. It’s such a delicate process that only 4 yards can be woven per day
TA: OK, so I want to know, which means other people want to know what kind of characteristics can we expect from SoSo with this unicorn denim?
JH: We went all-in on this fabric with the weight (oz) landing on 22oz. It’s stiff and full of uneven characteristics that are, in all honesty, quite challenging to explain in words. This fabric needs to be seen, felt, and worn to give it justice.
TA: When can we expect the denim to be available, how much are you making, and will it be possible for this denim to be made “The SoSo Custom Way?” Do I dare ask if there is a price point set as of yet?
JH: Now, this fabric was made in a minimal run of only 30 yards. We have created one sample pair so that the true beauty of this fabric can be seen to ease a purchase decision. That means that there will only be fabric left for around 10 pairs.
If everything goes according to schedule, then we are planning to release it as a pre-sale to our family members first this Friday, May 15, through our newsletter. That means you need to be signed up for our newsletter to get the information. The product on the website will be password protected, and the password will be given in the newsletter.
If there are any “pairs” left after 1 week, then the password on the website will be removed.
The fabric will be able to be customizable just like any other 20oz range fabric that we offer.
So this fabric is actually the most expensive (per yard) fabric that we have ever bought. Even pricier than our 33.14oz. That being said, I think many will be positively surprised about the price point, especially those that are fast enough to get one during the pre-sale
TA: This is seriously such a cool project, and I am so pumped for you guys to have reached a place where this is even possible. Is there anything else you want to share about the denim, the project, or what’s next?
JH: Oh man, pumped is just the first name. We are so happy to go in this direction, and if the sale of this fabric goes well, then expect many more hand-woven fabrics to come in the future.
Thank you for having me, Grant
The new SoSo denim looks absolutely incredible; full of character and beautifully dyed. As Jannis said, this first run is in very short supply. There will be an invite that goes out through the SoSo newsletter to have access earlier than the general public. If you’re interested, want the advantage and aren’t already, head to their website and sign-up! Or don’t, and make life, and getting my hands on a pair of these puppies, easier on me! As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for interviews with Nama Denim, WESN, Rose Anvil, and more!
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