Forbidden Fruit

All great brands must start somewhere.  Usually it’s the result of some need that an innovator finds the first solution to.  Some of the best brands were started by serendipitous luck.  Others after years of research.  Apple was started in a garage by two renegade kids named Steve in California.  One was in a genius engineer who wanted to give their product away.  The other was a “once a century” visionary who wanted to sell a million of them at crazy high prices.  Regardless of what they intended the Apple 1 and Apple 2 were a huge hits that propelled apple through years of non winners including Lisa and early Mac.  Personal Computers started with this Apple 1 computer, eh board… input device and output device sold separately.  Woz called this a “thing of beauty”.  Jobs was already dreaming of iPads…

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True Love

I have owned and driven many outstanding automobiles and motorcycles in my life.   Over time, the novelty and excitement wanes, the spell wears off and the car is traded or sold.  True love is when the spark doesn’t fade and the love and appreciation gets stronger over time.  My first true love is my wife Lauren.  My second is my Golden Retriever “Sweetie” (I love you too Ziggy!).  My other true love is my blue beast.  Lauren won’t let me post of photo of her so you are stuck having to look at my Audi.  Happy New Year.

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Blue Christmas

In the denim world there are lots of different types of companies and designers.  Most, unfortunately, lack real creativity and are simply making a product at a target price and it happens to be indigo blue.  Some are in love with a historical period or a historical reference and simply copy it.  Some are inspired by the past and based on those references create their version or interpretation of it.  Then there are those creatives who make something and call it a blue jean but it is far from it!  The best designers are part tailor, part artist, part inventor and part craftsman.  They live in laundries, fit sessions, libraries and fabric mills researching ideas to make a wonderful product that moves our industry forward.  Very few are true visionaries and icons of our industry.  People and companies I put in this elite class are Francois Girbaud [Girbaud], Adriano Goldschmeid [Goldsign], Pierre Morisette [G-Star], Jacob Davis & Levi Strauss (Levi’s] , Renzo Rosso [Diesel] and Panos Sofianos [Denim Valley]. There are a few more at this level but not many. Panos is the fabric designer of the Denim Valley line of Royo, located in Spain.  He is a master innovator who embraces all the available tools to move forward on sustainability [organic cotton, recycled cotton, lyocel, recycled polyester] while at the same creating authentic and wonderful denim.

This photo is Denim Valley’s holiday card.

Happy Holidays!

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My Blue Life

A few years ago I was researching my family and discovered that my “Shafer” name was neither Jewish nor Polish but was changed at Ellis Island upon my great grandfather’s entry into the USA.  Doing more research, I found a website that that took American names and derived their Polish origin.  The site suggested that my family name was “Szafir”.  I shared this with an uncle who confirmed that our family name was indeed, Szafir.  I met a Polish women on an jet and asked her the meaning of the word Szafir and she replied “sapphire”.   Not only is blue my favorite color in the world but also the color of my work (indigo), the color of my car,  the color of my favorite shoes, the color of the stone on my watch and stone on my wedding ring but it is also MY NAME.  I think these indigo dyed orchids on display at the Orta booth at PV Denim are pretty awesome too..

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Neiman Marcus

Every once in a while a “big thing” happens in the history of a brand.  One of those big things just happened.  Agave’s women’s collection is now being sold by Neiman Marcus at their Dallas store.  For us this is huge because growing our women’s collection, now designed by my wife Lauren Shafer, is our #1 priority.  Congratulations to the entire team at Agave and our partner suppliers but special congrats and thanks to Lauren, Marc, Kerri, Andy, Alberto & the Caitac crew for always believing and never giving up!

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city of light-blue

For creatives it might be Mac World, for Sci-Fi nerds the Star Trek convention, but for denim geeks like me it’s a trade show dedicated entirely to jeans called Denim by Premiere Vision.  Held twice a year in Paris it is all about jeans.  Yarn, weaving, denim, dying, tailoring, cutting, sewing, washing and trimming… the uniform of the human race.  It’s not a huge show but it is amazing.  Vendors are all denim-heads and come from all over the planet.  Denim is our common language.  Today I worked with people from Spain, Italy, Turkey, Japan, Belgium, Greece, USA, France, England and other countries.  Many of these people have been my friend and/or trading partner for years but we have never met face to face.  Incredible!  The photo here is of a hand operated loom that was weaving denim all day.  A thing of beauty.  Very Zen.   One of the days highlights was being in the trenches with Adriano Goldschmied and having him acknowledge me and my work.  I am not talking about the company that purchased and uses his name but the man himself, the master.

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wild steelhead

I have always been a fisherman.  Catching fish is a Shafer family tradition. I switched from salt water to fly fishing in fresh water when I went to Northern Arizona University for college.   Catching a steel head on a spey rod using a classic streamer is an incredible challenge.  This fish taken on the Deschutes River in Oregon is a wild fish.  It was born in the river, lived there for one year, then moved to the Pacific Ocean.  It came back to the river to reproduce and will then go back out to sea. Catching this wild animal was an honor.  It was released unharmed. Our guide Matt McCrary was amazing.

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dia de los muertos

I have always loved the Mexican holiday “Dia de los Muertos“.  The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.  Last month when I was traveling in Stockholm is visited a super cool shop selling a blend of vintage and new clothing.  This display was being finalized as I walked in.  How cool is this…

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blue barrels

I grew up in Southern California in the 70′s.  I had to surf every day or I just didn’t feel “right”.   My range was Baja California to Point Conception with Jalama being my favorite for “lefts” and Rincon for “rights”.  Surfing is the one of the greatest expressions of the human soul.  Submerged in nature and creating the perfect balance with it.  My favorite color is blue… all shades but especially ocean blue and indigo blue.  Waves and denim share the same color palette.  The fact that I love them both is no coincidence.  They make me very happy.

Both my brothers Jon and Brad also surf.  Brad works with me at Agave and Jon lives in Santa Barbara.  He still surfs (lucky for him) but he is also the amazing photographer who took this picture.  If you click on “blue barrels” you will be taken to his site www.santabarbarasurfer.com where he is the photographer, publisher and editor.  Check it out.

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amon adonai santos de araújo tobin

Music inspires me.  The sound track of life is the music you listen to.  I love all music but none more than electronic.  Amon Tobin has been an inspiration since I discovered his music in Vancouver, BC some 10 years ago.  With his ISAM project he has changed the world.  Check this out by clicking his on his name above.

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