New Denim Brand: Terrance Sullivan & DenimBlog Exclusive Interview
Change. The time has come for women to have jeans that are designed, styled and crafted specifically for them. A fashion industry professional I worked with several years ago once told me “at the end of the day, it’s all just denim.”
DB: What is your brand all about?
Making a statement. Providing a unique experience. American luxury and craftsmanship. Giving women exactly what they need and even more of what they want.
DB: Who would be your ideal customer?
The woman who wants and knows that she deserves a better pair of jeans. I honestly feel that every woman deserves a pair of my jeans.
DB: Your jeans have a uniqueness to them which I love, how would you describe them?
Well, I thank you for the compliment, this response from a woman is absolutely what drives me. I’m very happy that you and others have noticed this uniqueness. Each jean makes its own statement so I think it would be hard to give a specific description, so I’ll give you my two perspectives on that question. I think in a broader sense they can be described as, if you can imagine, the next evolution of the denim jean. Jeans that are made inside and out for the fit, design and style of today’s women. They are so much more than just jeans and that’s why I call them ‘Ready-To-Wear Jeans’. And to describe them perhaps as it pertains more to the aesthetics of the newest offerings of the collection, I’d simply have to say a sexy skinny silhouette that has been distressed, ripped and zipped to rock-star scale proportions!
DB: Zippers have been really popular on jeans, what made you want to put them on the knees and on the front of your jeans?
I’m very inspired by the idea force merger. In this instance my desire was to use the zipper, which is traditionally used in a strictly functional way on jeans and forcing it in to a purely aesthetic role. I’m very pleased with the outcome. I think the knee will be a consistent focal point in my design. The knee is the best place on a jean to make a strong statement.
DB: Are they comfortable on the knees? I can imagine kneeling down may be a little bit sore. I love the idea of using zippers etc for aesthetic purposes though, I am all for that!
That’s a great question because comfort is very, very important to me and I don’t want to just say yes without explaining why. A lot of thought was given to the placement of the zippers for that very reason. Here’s how I got the comfort issues to also marry with my design vision. The zippers are placed to fall just slightly above the knee. I then incorporated the shin patch, which falls just below the knee to achieve aesthetic detail as well as visually balance the leg. So on most women the zipper won’t fall exactly on the knees. In the event that the zippers do happen to fall on the knees there are a few other features at work. The front leg panel design, the stretch in the denim fabric and the quality/thickness of the zippers which can also be opened to relieve pressure in that area.
DB: What is your inspiration when designing?
I find most of my inspiration away from jeans. I look for beautiful lines and great concepts in any/all forms of design. I don’t really look at other jeans any more. They don’t inspire me and I don’t want to box myself into that way of thinking. I have created a path that’s so exciting for me. I’m opening the jean to all possibilities and I’ve only just begun.
DB: So do you get inspiration from things like nature or the city or maybe something else?
It truly is creating art for me. I treat every jean like a work of art. So inspiration comes from everything and nothing at all. Firstly, I look at my jean as being a part of a full women’s ready-to-wear collection more so than a jean in a contemporary or designer jean collection. This gives me the same freedom to create as a Marc Jacobs, an Alexander Wang, a Phillip Lim. And I’m very inspired by their work and by that of many other great designers as well. Some times I look through fashion magazines for hours and sometimes I have visions in a dream that wake me up in the middle of the night. I got the inspiration for the shin patch on the Harley Zip jeans because I love the sport of soccer. Who would put a shin patch on a pair of women’s jeans? But it works. This is why, I’m very excited. My thoughts, ideas and energy are growing stronger and stronger every day. My thinking is free and bold. Hopefully women will be able to identify with that.
DB: Tell us more about your cuts and washes!
I have to say the cuts are absolutely great. I’m constantly working to improve even on this greatness. The rear rise is slightly higher than the front rise for an enhancing fit without the plumber butt. The front leg panels are contoured and smaller then the rear leg panels which give a long slimming effect to the legs.
DB: The slimming effect on the legs sounds perfect! Just what every girl wants. So will you not be doing any heavy distressing or any ‘fashion’ style washes?
Of course I want to give women what they want so I’ll certainly do some distressing and fashionable washes for sure, however I’ll make sure I do it in my own way. I think I can also introduce women to new things they will want as well.
Take one look at the collection and you’ll notice right away that as far as washes and finishes are concerned, I try to stay both classic and original. I won’t ever overdo it with washes and finishes. I don’t chase those trends. I want our clients to expect to buy a pair of wearable jeans that will become a mainstay in their wardrobe.
DB: Do you have a favourite jean you have designed?
That’s a tough question because I feel they’re all like my beautiful children or something. I’ve worked really hard to perfect each jean for what it is and the statement it should make. But to not totally dance around your question, I’d have to say that the ‘Harley Zip’ jean and the ‘Talula’ jean are pretty sick. (‘Talula’ jean is available late August)
DB: What do these 2 jeans look like and what makes them your favorite?
They both have a skinny silhouette with great design aesthetics that really evolve the denim jean. The Harley Zip jean has the knee zippers and shin patches. I love the zippers. A great detail about them is that they are all different sizes of thickness and they unzip in different directions. It all, absolutely, came together beautifully. The Talula jean is very special to me. It’s actually funny because I’m so proud of it. This was force merge to perfection I think. I use elastic to create sculpted coned shapes on the knees. The shape is very strong visually however, I still feel it’s very wearable. I thinking there’s a part of me that is hoping that women will trust me with this jean and I really like that feeling as well. The rear yoke and a lower section of the leg are also made of elastic and really balance the front and back of the jean. Talula looks very sleek and sexy in raw black denim in which the elastic knees are more pronounced. And there’s also a washed black version and the contrast of the denim wash and the black elastic looks terrific.
DB: Do you have a favourite jean (any brand)?
My favorite jean of all time is without question the original Calvin Klein Jean. This is a jean that changed my life. It changed how everyone looks at jeans. I aspire to achieve such greatness.
DB: How many jeans do you have?
I actually don’t design and make mens jeans yet, including for my self personally, so I don’t have many jeans. I find a pair or two that I like and I stick to them for a while. However, I will buy multiples of the same pair to make sure I have them for a while. I’ll get to the men’s jean revolution some day soon hopefully, but for now I’ll have to suffer so that women can have great jeans.
DB: Tell us where you are based and where you grew up!
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan but my design studio and collection store are located in Birmingham, Michigan. All of My jeans are manufactured in New York City and all of the washes and finishes are done in Los Angeles, California. So there you go, get a great pair of jeans and jump start the economy all in one purchase!
DB: What is the best feature of Terrance Sullivan jeans?
It’s easily the ‘Four Piece Contoured Waistband™’. This waistband is designed for a woman’s waistline and it is unique to my jeans. It’s been designed to help eliminate rear gapping while providing a snug fit. In contrast, 99.99% of all the women’s jeans that are currently available have a two piece waistband. This two piece design creates a full circle that is made for a mans wider waist, not a woman’s waist. This not only creates rear gapping on the waistband, it also effects the fit around the butt and crotch as well. And women wonder why it’s so hard to find a pair of jeans that fit them well.
DB: Oh wow, that’s really interesting! I actually never knew about the 2 piece waistbands. Could you explain more about this for those of us who don’t know?
I’d love to. If you take a look on the inside of your jeans you’ll find that the waistband is made of an inside piece and an outside piece. They share the same shape and they are sewn together to make the waistband. This design can create only one shape, a complete circle. This is a waistband that has been carried over from the original designs of jeans made for men. Men are wide across in the waist and typically have a smaller rear end, so the circle design works. However, women have a curvy shape. The hips are wider than the waistline and there are more rear assets than a man for most women. So a waist band that forms a circle won’t work well. At some point there well be gapping between the waistband and the body along the waistline. I was amazed that no jean (that I’m aware of) was addressing this critical fit issue. The waistband on my jeans are made of four separate pieces. Two on the inside and two on the outside sewn together at the rear seam. Each piece of the waistband is specially contoured and shaped. This is a design that works on a woman’s waist. I’m sure women are aware that there is no one jean that will fit every body shape, however, my jeans will fit a very, very wide range of body shapes because of these very important features.
DB: What are your denim predictions for next season?
I think we’ll see denim, as a fabric, once again making it’s way into other parts of the wardrobe. More looks that will incorporate denim on denim on denim. I think it’s also safe to say the skinny jean will continue it’s dominance as the most desired silhouette. I’m also pretty sure that jeans will evolve to incorporate more of the technical features which we’ve already started to do.
DB: What makes denim so important to you?
There is nothing sexier than a woman in a great pair of jeans!
DB: What makes your brand stand out from the rest of the brands out there?
I’d say it’s simply a higher level of attention to all of the details. Those that matter the most and even those that you wouldn’t think matter at all. I don’t want it to sound like I’m putting other jeans down, but the truth is, we make a better women’s jean and the eye can see it at first glance. When your hands touch them you know that the denim and the craftsmanship is superior. You can turn any pair of my jeans inside out and you’ll find that the pocketing and the inside seams are finished and lined with bias made of 100% Pima cotton. Girls who have my jeans have actually told me that they’ve put their hands into the pockets of the jeans and were amazed at how soft the pockets felt. If you could just see my face light up when I’m telling them about the Pima cotton pocketing! It’s that important to me that the entire experience with my jeans is great. I don’t know of any other jean that goes that far to get all of the details right.
DB: You really make me want to try on a pair of your jeans now! I love the small little details on jeans and fabrics like Pima cotton being used as it’s so soft. It’s nice to see you have such a passion for what you do! I find it’s the little details on jeans that make me like them a lot more over time.
Thank you so much for all of your compliments. I think now the only thing left is to get you into my jeans!
DB: Lastly, is there anything else you want to add that I haven’t asked you?
Yes, Rivets are not sexy on a woman’s jean unless you’re a cowboy or a coal miner! And please stop buying the jeans with those big square pockets! Big squares shapes on a woman’s butt don’t compliment, enhance or flatter the female shape! There I said It. Hopefully I’ve started a women’s jean revolution!