The Quest for Personal Best: The Only Result that Matters

October 21, 2021

We frequently compare the Indigo Invitational to a race, but we all know that denim fading is a painfully slow art. Those who produce fade masterpieces know that they must wait for them. When that starting gun fires, signalling the beginning of the Indigo Invitational, world-class faders leap out of the blocks, but then, just as quickly, they settle in and find their rhythm. They know that a strong start is important, but not as important as stamina. 

At some point in the race, you might find yourself cast longing looks either at other pairs in your rotation or at new purchases. The temptations are the most pronounced during the first half of the competition—before the race has truly begun. For desk jockeys, the fades are still just beginning to crest over the horizon at the 3-4 month mark. Our jeans haven’t yet begun to show us what they’re really made of. 

At the same time, when we look around early in the competition, we might notice that some of the faders are off to a roaring start. Those who do sweaty work in the sun day after day start seeing fade results in as little as a few weeks. If you gauge your progress by where you are in relation to those at the front of the pack, you might start to get discouraged. 

This is why we lose nearly half the field in the first six months of the competition. Faders lose their patience and lose their nerve. They don’t see immediate results, so they step off the track. They lose sight of the reasons for competing in the first place, which have nothing to do with first place.

We compete in the Indigo Invitational first and foremost because we want to do justice to our jeans. Surrender to the process and, after 365 days, you’ll have a faded pair you can be proud of. This is the carrot at the end of the stick (and it’s all the encouragement you should need). Instead of setting your sights on the podium, aim for a personal best.

The Climb: Set Your Sights on 250

If you’re comparing your fades to those produced by other competitors or what you’re seeing online, it’s easy to get discouraged. Those who manage to cross the line and set a new personal best know that the beginning of the race doesn’t mean much. We’re still just warming up when we’re crossing that 100-wear line. After 200 days, the field has tightened, with some of the slow starters pulling up into the lead pack. By the time we cross the 250-wear mark, hundreds of faders are running neck and neck in the centre of the pack.

Set your sights on that 250-wear mark. Think of the competition as though it were a mountain climb with that 250-wear mark as the peak. The first 250 days of the competition are about surrendering to the process. We slide the same pair on day in and day out, and we submit our updates every month without fail. We put one foot in front of the other. After 250 days, we no longer have to look up. We can start looking down.

From that vantage point, we can see how far we’ve come. At the same time, we can see for the first time where we are heading. We can start to get a mental picture of what our jeans will look like when we cross the line, and there’s no better motivator than this. Experience this once and you’ll understand immediately what pulls people back into the competition year after year.

At the 250-wear mark, we have something that we’re already proud of—often intensely so. It’s no longer a daily struggle. We can jog down the other side of the mountain towards the finish line without breaking a sweat. We’re close to doing justice to our jeans, and we want more than ever to see that justice done.

Those who step off the path to the peak before the 250-wear mark never get this experience, and we want everybody who joins this competition to reach that peak.

Push for Your Personal Best

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. With returning champions and new contenders all in the mix, you can go head to head with the best in the world and see how your fades stack up, and there are incredible prizes on the line for our fade olympians.

The Olympics is a good analogue here. Each Olympic event features dozens of competitors from all over the world. There are odds-on favourites in each event. While there are a handful of big surprises every year, the athletes who stand on the podium tend to have long track records of victory behind them. Those in the middle or the back of the pack know that a medal is out of reach, but this doesn’t prevent them from driving for that line. They are on the quest for a personal best.

Whether you are joining the Indigo Invitational with your first pair of raws or your fiftieth, treat the competition as an opportunity to  set a new benchmark for yourself. Pick your pair carefully. Apply everything you’ve learned about wearing and washing raw denim to try to bring the absolute best out of yourself and your pair. Use the competition as the excuse you might need to get more active. Climb a mountain, take a long bike ride, or head into the garage and dirty your hands with a passion project.

At the end of the year, you’ll have fades you can be intensely proud of, and that’s not all. You’ll have stories to tell. You will have been to the mountain top. This is an achievement in itself. You will have competed against some of the world’s best denim faders and crossed the line. This too is an achievement in itself. You will have set a new personal best, and this is a victory in itself.