I’m so excited to share this limited edition patch release with two awesome buddies in the industry: Mason McFee from Elmer Gomer and Solomon from Left Hand Twill.
I have known Solomon for a few years through the NY denim scene. We probably met at one of the Denim Days shows and it was always a pleasure to bump into him in New York: he radiates a positive energy and always has a giant smile on his face.
Last year the algorithm brought Mason into my life when I started noticing his amazing up-cycled and individually made patches.
Its coming up to a year since George Floyd was brutally murdered and Mason’s ‘No Justice, No Peace’ patch resonated so strongly that it finally opened up a conversation between us. We spoke vaguely back then of collaborating in the future and wanting to cover themes of community and solidarity in denim.
The internet has a great way of throwing like minded souls together and in a separate algorithm, far far away, Mason made contact with Solomon:

Solomon Russell, Left Hand Twill
Elmer Gomer, 'No Justice, No Peace' 2020

"My friend Ryan Sullivan (Rigg NY) introduced me to Solomon's work on Instagram. I'll credit the power of the internet here - I've never been shy about reaching out and I feel like that opportunity is the most positive gift that the internet has provided us"

‚ÄĒ Mason, Elmer Gomer

He decided that maybe three minds would be better than one and went about setting this collaboration in motion. The result is the patch you see below, available for purchase on the Elmer Gomer webshop.
I asked the dudes a few questions about their involvement in the project, what it symbolised to them and how the last few months have been.

Elmer Gomer, 2020
Elmer Gomer, AKA: Mase

So, Mase, how did this project turn from an idea into a reality?
“Our conversation about working on a project together was exciting to me, but I think the idea of me going about it alone didn’t make sense, one because I can’t really claim any denim credibility or knowledge – I just happen to have a relationship with denim through repairing and using denim as a substrate in some of my embroidery work. I knew Solomon probably had some denim he would donate to the project, so I reached out and asked if he would like to be a part. It seemed like an easy opportunity to start the Elmer Gomer Recycling Program and work on a project that benefits us both in the end – each patch we sell we split the profits and enables us to do more things in the future”
Solomon, what was it that drew you to Mason’s work?
“Mason’s work is beautiful- You can tell that he takes his time with what he creates and what I appreciate most about it is that there’s always an impactful message that goes along with his work. So when he reached out to collab on this project, it was a no brainer for me”
Obviously this collaboration isn’t just about unity in the denim industry, it’s also about waste and environmental issues. Can you both talk a little about what sustainability means to you?
Mase: “Most of my life, my art has been made with materials and tools that have been handed down or gifted to me, found at a vintage store, junk store or side of the road. I love seeing something live on longer than it was intended. It just so happens to actually be good for the planet, if instead of buying something new each time, we try to make use of our refuse and be smarter about what we throw into the trash”
Solomon: “Flint, Michigan hasn’t had clean water since April 24th 2014. Yes, the denim industry has made leaps and bounds to correct an issue that has been long going but this environment is bigger than that. This is a social equality issue, there’s many places across the globe that don’t have clean drinking water and those places are usually found in poor communities, even more so black, brown and indigenous communities. Water is essential and should be treated as such”

Elmer Gomer
Left Hand Twill

Mason, you used to work with a pretty big graphic design company and now you work with your hands with lots of mostly small and niche brands under the moniker Elmer Gomer. What do you like most about what you do now?

Mase: “I find purpose in working with other people to bring projects to life, whether it is small or large. I find the challenge of making things happen with other humans interesting and exciting and learning along the way is the ultimate gain in the end. I’m probably guilty of working too much at times, but I’m driven to do a lot while I’m here whether it is building a cannabis company or making a run of patches for a friend’s music label”

Solomon, you are a total denim dude through and through and have been involved in vintage, design, accessories and a bit of photography, too right? What are your plans for your Left Hand Twill platform?

Solomon: As of right now, I’m feeling things out. There’s a lot I want to accomplish with LHT but I no longer feel like I have to force things to happen. The brand is taking it’s natural course and to see things come together organically is beautiful. Sort of like this project here.

The Denim Dudes x Elmer Gomer x Left Hand Twill collaboration patch

A question to both of you: what was 2020 like for you and how did that experience impact how you work and live today?
Mase: “2020 and 2021 were/have been tough. I’ve had to slow down like everyone else and it opened my mind to a lot of things I could work on, both in my personal world and in my professional world. One of those learnings was working on inclusion and evaluating how much effort I am putting into making sure I include people of all kinds from all backgrounds of life”
Solomon: “2020 was a high anxiety year for me as I know it was for a lot people. Left Hand Twill and denim took a backseat for a while to try and process the shock of Covid, the murder of George Floyd and the death of my Grandmother. My emotions were running high and it felt like I was free falling with no bottom to actually hit, fortunately there was a bottom and I landed on my feet and I kept running. Life is indeed what you make it, there’s been too many times where you take certain situations or people in your life for granted and that’s something I can no longer afford to do. I want to spread love expeditiously”
Solomon, as a young black man working in the denim industry, do you think there needs to be better integration/ representation of black and brown faces? What changes would you like to see?
“I do and I believe inclusion comes from how we portray ourselves to the world. When I got into denim I could tell that it was a white male dominated forum. However, the community as a whole spectrum is diverse. It’s one thing to want or talk about representation but the outreach needs to be available as well. Black and Brown folks need to know that the denim world is real and also attainable and if you knock on the door like any industry, it will eventually open and denim heads will help you out. I’m a prime example of that”

Denim Dudes x Elmer Gomer x Left Hand Twill collaborative patch
Denim Dudes x Elmer Gomer x Left Hand Twill collaborative patch

"Life is indeed what you make it, there's been too many times where you take certain situations or people in your life for granted and that's something I can no longer afford to do. I want to spread love expeditiously"

- Solomon Russell

What part does art and creativity play in making more positive changes in our denim industry?
Mase: “I think art and creativity are a big answer to how we learn to reuse and recycle – most of the artists I know see the value in keeping things around for the perfect project or opportunity to reuse them in their work.
Solomon: “I agree with Mase, it’s a big learning tool. We use art not only as a way to create but also as a way to convey a message as well”

Finally, what does this collaborative patch represent for you both individually?

Mase: “This patch represents personal growth for me plus the beginning of a new charge to work for a more equitable future”
Solomon: “This project took a little while to develop because we planted the seed, watered the soil and a plant grew (hence the flower patch!). It’s perfect symbolism for my life and how I want all my projects to be from here on out”
To buy the ‘Sewn Together’ patch from Elmer Gomer, click here.

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Trend forecaster, denim designer, industry journalist and author of Denim Dudes.