(a photo of a model in DSTLD’s Second Skinny jeans, showing just how much elasticity is in this pair of jeans.)
A few weeks back I visited the showroom of newly launched premium denim brand, DSTLD which is based in LA; the mecca of the denim industry. DSTLD likes to use this prime location to its advantage by producing most of its inventory in the heart of the city, all while keeping their price point extremely affordable. With great quality, affordable prices and locally made products, they’re ahead of their competition already, but DSTLD is about to reach a whole other level because they are bringing the “try it at home” business model to the table. You heard right, visit the site, pick out the jeans you are interested in, get them sent to your home and try them on. You send back what you don’t like and only get charged for what you’ve kept. Shopping for denim has never been so easy or convenient.
I really enjoyed learning about DSTLD because you can tell by the way they busted out the gates this past April when they launched that they were extremely intelligent and had a great background in denim. They have 3 co-founders, Mark Lynn, Corey Epstein and Steffen Hoffman, plus lead designer Anh Vu. Mark Lynn and Corey Epstein are marketing/business gurus from Colorado that have a few businesses together and Anh Vu…well, she helped start the brand Nautica Jeans with John Varvatos so I don’t really need to do any more convincing. This “denim A-team” is not only bringing you a great product but approaching the way you buy denim in a whole new way.
As you can see their space is amazing with a DJ booth and photo studio set up inside and I love that they’ve been using it to collaborate with as many local taste makers as possible for great content and campaigns.
The fun didn’t stop at visiting the showroom, I also got to pick their brains about their brand and what we can expect to see from DSTLD in the future. Check out my interview with the DSTLD crew below, and enjoy shopping for their premium denim!
1. Tell us a little about DSTLD and what sets you apart from other premium brand denim?
Mark Lynn: DSTLD puts so much investment in the fit and make. You can see and feel this by the quality of the fabric and how it includes stretch for fit (no sag) and comfort, the richness of the dyes and washes, the premium hardware and intricate stitching (especially on the cuffs). With DSTLD’s clean, modern styles part of the fit and make is in what you don’t notice — the fit achieves a second skin feeling and the make ensures we don’t need to cover anything up with unnecessary (cheapening) elements.
Anh Vu: We design and craft our jeans using top-tier fabrics and the same mills as other top premium brands, however where you really see the difference with us is in our groundbreaking grading/tailoring systems for greater fit precision. Because we don’t need to work on traditional retail timelines, we’re also often first-to-market with highly modern fabrics and design techniques. In many ways, DSTLD is superior to other premium brands, only our line starts at $65. For women, we employ a dual-layer contoured waistband for a comfortable, figure-flattering close fit that eliminates the dreaded “butt gap” (guys: ask your girlfriends about this), a multi-point “bodymapping” system to ensure every size is cut to embrace and highlight the body, and ring-spun dual-flex yarns for super soft feel as well as superior stretch and recovery.
2. Where do you draw inspiration from for your collections?
Anh Vu: Our aesthetic is a mix between French minimalism and edgy street chic. Designing is an extremely collaborative process! Between working with Corey and Mark on the styles to come and executing the washes and finishes with the manufacturers, no detail goes overlooked. With DSTLD, it’s all about clean, effortless style – no excess. You won’t find anything meaningless, no crazy stitching for the sake of showing off. Instead I focus on perfecting the art of simple, streamlined design. Carefully detailing the fit and stitching scheme for every garment – specifying the size and shape of every last stitch, from fly to pocket lines to hem. Selecting the exactly right fabric and wash to make a pair of jeans look and feel amazing. I’m a little obsessive about design. You have to be, though, with something as nuanced as denim. For weeks I’ll mull over how the pocket shape changes with subtle angles and when the denim is stretched along curves.
3. Where do you see DSTLD in 5 years? 10? What is your vision for the company?
We see DSTLD as becoming the biggest, most successful born online lifestyle brand. We want to change the way people experience luxury, because luxury isn’t just a price point – it’s innovation, it’s utilizing the most advanced materials, and it’s the experience in which you deliver all of the elements together. DSTLD is creating that experience.
4. Who is the DSTLD Girl/Boy?
The DSTLD female/male is the new era of conscious consumer interested in purchasing fewer, better things. Things that focus on quality and innovation rather than of-the-moment trends. They’re savvy and stylish with a streamlined, edgy-minimalist aesthetic.
5. You’re only selling online, tell us a little bit about your business model and how it’s changing the denim industry. (You can talk about the home fitting option here etc.)
Mark Lynn: The name DSTLD (pronounced ‘distilled’) is a double entendre of sorts, a nod to both our design philosophy and business model. To distill is to remove unnecessary elements so that only the essential remains. This applies to the modern, unembellished aesthetic of our label, as well as the disintermediation of the premium denim market: removing unnecessary third-party sellers who mark up product 200-300%, and — simply by virtue of carrying or “representing” multiple brands — are ineffective storytellers for any one brand.
Seventy-five percent of the designer jeans sold in the world are made in Los Angeles. We source our materials and develop our washes and finishes in the same factories as all the other premium players, but since we don’t sell to third party retailers, we’re able to keep our price point very desirable – our denim starts at $65.
We know that jeans are an intimate experience for women, which is why we’ve developed a home fitting program – clients choose three pairs of jeans to try in the comfort of their own home for up to 10 days, completely complimentary. Clients are only charged for what they keep.
6. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came about starting DSTLD.
Corey Epstein: Honestly we found the denim business because we are in L.A, the denim capital of the world. With backgrounds in retail consulting and e-commerce, we questioned why premium denim cost so much, and set out to deliver a premium product at value. Our solution was to “distill” the business of denim, remove the “impurities” and unnecessary middlemen to create a “pure” denim brand, direct to you. Our lead designer, Anh, has a very diverse fashion background, from designing at couture houses in Paris to to launching Nautica Jeans with John Varvatos, and everything in between.