Why is it called "The Iron Snail"?
Ah, the question we receive all the time. By "we" I really mean me...for right now. If you don't know me, my name is Michael Kristy. I'm a big fat fan of incredibly overbuilt clothes and nature (not overbuilt nature...just nature). The Iron Snail is a combination of that...more on that later though.
A while ago, my girlfriend, Taylor, sent me a website that showed what sea creatures lived at what depth in the ocean (here). You could scroll for an incredibly long time and see all of these absolutely insane creatures just doing their thing. I've been fascinated by weird sea creatures (both fictional and non-fictional) for a very long time and even made a movie featuring one that I made up. Anyways, Taylor and I were scrolling through this website (I think on the beach?) and we got all the way down to the Hadal Zone, the deepest, darkest region of the ocean, sea creatures were sparse but incredibly weird and creepy and I loved it.
The original name of this brand was "Wool & Lanolin" a.k.a. sheep hair and the oil found on sheep hair. I liked that for about three months until I wanted to change it. I was originally going to call the brand "Hadal" but was still on the fence about making the change. Taylor and I, along with our "couple" friends, Amelia and Ronnie, went on a double date camping trip on Bakers Island in Salem, MA. The four of us were on our campground a night, sitting in red plastic Adirondack chairs, and overlooking the ocean while listening to the waves crash. Our only source of light was the moon (a.k.a. we were basically blind). We were all wrapped in blankets to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and we got on the topic of my new YouTube channel, Wool & Lanolin. I started telling them where I wanted the channel to go and how I wanted to open a store and how I wanted to switch the name of it and...boom. I floated "Hadal" out to the group which was well received...but...there was one creature that Taylor and I stopped on when we were originally scrolling on the site. It was rather small with a very weird quirk, it covers itself in iron for protection. This creature was of course, the scaly-foot gastropod, a.k.a The Iron Snail.
At the time I thought maybe the name would be too weird and people wouldn't like it...but Taylor LOVED it and started demanding that the buttons on products look like snail shells. Amelia and Ronnie loved it too and stood behind Taylor and her demands. So when we got home from our trip I immediately ran back to my computer and changed the YouTube channel to "The Iron Snail".
What's The Iron Snail All About?
I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and I LOVE it there. I love walking through all the trails, I grew up having bonfires at night with all my friends on the beach, my dad is a professional fisherman/lobsterman, etc. I'm very Cape Cod and I take a lot of pride in that. I moved away and now I live in NYC but the Cape, Concord MA, Maine, Vermont, etc. feel like home. New England is hands down my favorite area in the world. I love the old houses, the seasons, the wet days, the fall days, etc. I don't think there is anywhere else in the world like it.
That being said, there is a specific feeling in New England that I want to push the Snail towards. Those cozy days where it's raining in the fall or early spring, or it's the middle of winter and you're coming into a warm house with a fire going and family/friends are around, are magical. I want the Snail to fit right in to that pocket.
I never want to make clothing that is overly trendy, meant to be thrown away, or not a great source of pride and a companionship. I want to make clothing that lasts forever (or close to it) that I could throw on the couch next to the door at my parents house (this is where we put all of our jackets when coming inside) that I'll be proud to put on the next day and for many many years after that.
I want to make clothing that anyone can take a lot of pride in, and will wear for the rest of their life.
A Term Breakdown:
Why Use Japanese Denim?
Japan romanticizes denim to the highest degree.
Essentially, denim in the 21st century has been perfected. There are no "flaws" left and if there are, I'm sure some big wig executive with a cigar in their mouth is going to scream and slam their fists on their table until that "flaw" is gone.
You said "flaw" what "flaw" can denim have? Well, they can have actual manufacturing flaws BUT their can also be inconsistencies in the cotton threads when creating denim. The result of those inconsistencies in the thread cause something called "slub" or "nep". More on that later, gator.
The interesting part about these "flaws" though is that they don't really make the denim any weaker...but they do make denim production slower, which is not good when you're trying to pump a trillion jeans out.
Japan has all the time in the world though. Well, not really but there is clearly a market for denim done a different way (i.e. with these flaws, with better cotton, with old looms, etc.)
Japan became obsessed with denim and essentially mastered it like never before. They saw these "flaws" as art and went on to become the best denim artists in the world. They didn't mind that it took a little longer for the denim to be loomed.
This is not to say there isn't amazing denim being produced all around the world of course -- Japan just is on a different level with denim as an artform.
Why Use Raw Denim?
First off, raw denim is simply denim that has not been washed yet. It's stiff because the fabric is starched so it can be sewn together easier...but that makes some magic happen later.
Raw denim is amazing. I'm drooling just typing this. I love raw denim. So the real question isn't, "why use raw denim?", it's, "...why am I drooling?"
Denim is one of the few things in the world that objectively gets better with age: it softens, the indigo varies in color, and rips in the denim let the white warp poke through. All in all, the more you wear it the more beautiful it becomes.
Most denim today is pre-distressed, heavily rinsed, singed, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, it's just extremely bad and ugly.
In all seriousness though, raw denim is fun and uniquely yours. You are getting a garment that is completely untouched after it's stitched together. It'll be stiff and crunchy until you give it a good rinse or wash. That first rinse and wash will also bring out character in the denim that you didn't see before. As you wear the denim in it'll continue to soften, fade in areas of high wear, and start to form unique designs and creases based off of how you move.
The more you wear it the more yours it becomes.
Is your denim too stiff? Just f'ing wash it. It's okay. I promise. When you buy a jacket we'll include a little note card that talks all about this.
What is Selvedge Denim?
Thank you for asking.
The only difference between selvedge denim and non-selvedge denim is the edge of the fabric. Selvedge denim has a "self-finished" edge, meaning, that when it comes off the loom, the fabric won't fray or unravel. Non-selvedge denim typically uses an overlock seam to prevent the fabric from fraying.
Selvedge denim looks dramatically sharper and cleaner than non-selvedge. Typically the selvedge line on denim is white with a colored ticker running through it. The most common color is red.
Basically, picture selvedge denim as a gorgeous leather bound book, and non-selvedge denim as your three ring binder from the third grade.
What is slub and nep?
Ah, slub! Oh, nep!
These are terms used to describe the character of denim.
"Slub" sounds like "slug" and some people have accidentally called my brand "The Iron Slug" which is wrong.
With some denim you may see that the texture varies a bit. Some threads may look larger or thicker. That's slub! Slub occurs when irregularly sized yarn is used on the loom and or the loom is set to a very low tension when the denim is being woven.
Slub will make denim feel a bit "rougher" or like it's more three-dimensional. It'll also change the fade pattern of the denim -- the thicker yarns fade faster than the thinner ones.
Now let "The Iron Slug" tell you what nep is.
Nep is the result of small knots on the yarn being woven into denim. They create little "puffs" in the denim that add a bit more texture and change the feel.
Typically nep is pretty light and not very noticeable, but if you look close and run your hand over the denim, you'll feel tiny flecks or bumps -- that's nep!