Trust the Process and Stay the Course
We’re off and running. We’ve just rounded the first turn in the course (only eleven more to go). There’s a lot of track ahead of us, so this is a good time to remind ourselves why we’re doing this in the first place.
Denim fading is a painfully slow art. Those who produce fade masterpieces know that they must wait for them. They allow the fades to emerge gradually over months and months of daily wear. There’s a reason why the kanji meaning ‘Endurance’ is on our latest tee; great faders, like the ninja, patiently wait for their moment.
This competition is, if nothing else, an opportunity to test our patience and strengthen our resolve. Most of us have at least a few pairs in the rotation. These unworn pairs call out to us, but the competition gives us all a very good reason to resist these calls.
We are reaching the point now when competitors might start to cast longing looks at their other pairs. It’s been over a month, and, if the weather has kept us mostly indoors, our jeans are still crisp and dark blue. We might feel like we’re standing still or crawling—especially when we see some of the fast starters already starting to produce beautiful fades.
Remember that many of the most impressive fades we’re seeing early in this competition are coming from Southeast Asia, where summer is just beginning. If cold or blustery weather is keeping you indoors, your time will come.
Don’t be discouraged, and don’t lose patience. Stay the course. This is a marathon. We’ve only just begun.
The Race Hasn’t Really Started Yet
Yes, we’ve waved the green flag, and some of the competitors have laid down streaks of hot rubber on the asphalt. Based on what we saw last year, though, those who leap out to an early lead are by no means safe at the front of the pack. The real race hasn’t started yet.
I’m writing this on day 43 of the competition. Last year, on day 43, one of our podium finishers was still a week away from receiving his competition pair. He started almost two months behind everybody else, but he was patient. By the time the competition ended, he was running with the race leaders.
We’re looking at a LOT of fresh and raw pairs right now. Most competitors have just started to set their creases. We’re losing a little blue in the whiskers, the combs, and on the knees. Some pairs are fading quickly, others are fading very slowly, but fans of well-made heavy selvedge know that stubborn faders are more than worth the wait.
What we learned from last year’s competition was that when we cross the 100-wear line, the field starts to tighten. When we cross the 200-wear line, the field tightens yet more. At the 300-wear line, hundreds of faders will be running neck and neck.
Think of the competition like a mountain and the 10-month mark as the mountain’s peak. The first 10 months are all about surrendering to the process and finding our rhythm. We fade our jeans day in and day out, and we update every month without fail. We put one foot in front of the other. Then, on August 1st, we’ll all arrive on that peak together.
It’s only then, when we’ve crossed that 300-wear mark, that we can finally look down and see how much we’ve accomplished, only then that we can start to see what our pair will look like when we cross the finish line.
Until we get there, it’s a guessing game—and it’s anyone’s game.
Race Against Others or Race Against Yourself
If you’re highly competitive, this competition provides you with the opportunity to go head-to-head with the world’s best faders. Got a secret fade recipe that you think is a winning formula? There is no better testing ground than the Indigo Invitational, no better place to test your fading mettle and to put a pair through its paces.
Last year’s champions (@notyourordinaryfades / @denim_rambler / @kill_your_jeans / @dnmboi / @puriwatnanchaika) are all back for round two. We’re still too far from the finish line to know whether they’ll defend their titles or be knocked off the podium, but they’re excellent faders to watch if you want to gauge your progress.
At the same time, there are hundreds of newcomers. The year’s field is packed with fade all stars who slept on year one of the competition. Over the coming months, we’ll be highlighting some of these veteran faders and upstarts (perhaps you’ll be one of them).
You can keep pace with the leaders if you like, but those who get the most out of this competition (including last year’s winners) tend to just focus on their own race. They didn’t become world-class faders by winning. The winning was just a by-product of their art. They are in love with the process as much as the results (the mark of high performers in every arena).
Champion faders live life fully and energetically (and always in their denim). They seek out opportunities to roll the odometer in their jeans, but they don’t do this with their eyes locked on the fader in front of them. They’re just running their own race.
Remember, though, that this competition isn’t just about results. It’s an exercise in community building as well. This was a big reason that the first year’s competition was so successful, and we’re off to a running start this year.
If you’re a more experienced fader, and you see somebody struggling to keep up, get out and push. Share your expertise. With a little push, you’ll help turn new members of this community into full-fledged faders, which helps level the track, giving everybody the motivation they need to cross the line.
The Goal is the Finish Line—Not the Podium
When we started this competition in 2019, we didn’t have any sponsors. Fifty faders stood in the starting blocks before SOSO and Redcast Heritage stepped up with an offer of prizes for our winners. We all wanted to win (who doesn’t), but we knew as well that a podium finish would just be the cherry on top.
If your goal is to win that trip to Japan or the $1,000 gift certificate from Iron Heart, by all means push that accelerator all the way to the floor and don’t let up until we cross the line. If nothing but winning will satisfy you, though, there’s a fair to good chance that, when the winners are announced, you’ll be disappointed.
Those who view the finish line as the goal rather than the podium don’t run this risk. They are only running their own race rather than focusing on what the faders around them are doing. They cross the line having given their pair all that they could, and they have a beautifully faded pair of selvedge to show for it.
This is what it means to run your race. To get the absolute most out of this competition, all you have to do is finish. Everything else is gravy.