Designer Jean Interviews
Current/Elliott is one of the hottest brands around, almost single-handedly starting the boyfriend jean trend. The soft, stylish looks which Katie Holmes, Rachel Bilson and more are obsessed. The pair met in college at UCLA, over a decade ago.
So I know you’re from Northern California. How did you end up in LA?
Emily: I left Davis for UCLA, which is where I met Meritt. We were the total hippie chicks at UCLA. We bonded over bell bottoms actually, 684 elephant bells because we both wear bell bottoms and everyone–
What are 684s?
E: Giant 70s vintage jeans that are just ridiculous. And no girls wore bell bottoms at the time–it was the era of ripped, zipped back BisousBisous pants and like Guess platform boots, so this is like ‘95 to ’99.
So you bonded over jeans?
Merrit: Yeah and then we started going to flea markets together over the weekend and sharing our finds, but we were actually studying sociology.
E: And we sat next to each other at graduation, just serendipitously and we started talking about what we should do in the future and we both kind of went on to do other things, at least a little bit, but we were freelance styling on the side until we joined forces to become a styling team!
What was that conversation like?
M: Pretty dorky. I mean UCLA’s not the most creative school and at graduation we were both wearing long vintage dresses under our gowns and we were just like what do we love, what do we want to do? We complement each other well, so we figured we should stay in touch and at least hang out, and eventually do something together.
What were your favorite vintage stores then?
M: Well we used to take the bus to the flea markets on the weekends.
E: And there were so many amazing places even in Santa Monica back then, and this great place by the school. We were the only ones who went, it probably closed down after we graduated.
M: It’s true, we were the only ones ever there.
So after college, you each went your own way.
E: Yeah, I was styling and doing in house work for one brand. The styling work was both editorial and celebrity – I mean all of the same things I do now but on a much smaller level.
M: I did freelance writing for Conde, Allure, etc.
E: Yeah I mean when you’re young you’re just trying to build your book and get yourself together, and then it was like it all came together and actually worked and made sense when we joined forces.
M: And it was a slow process. She built her portfolio and I built mine and she met clients and I met clients and when we hedged them together we all of a sudden had this momentum. We never assisted or anything, we sort of just said yes to everything and figured it out as we went along. And then before we knew it we were styling big bands for their album covers and music videos and runway shows.
E: There are two of us, so one could just nod yes and the other could quickly figure it out.
How do you start? Once the two of you came together, what’s the first thing that happens?
E: You know people are always asking that – always – and now we have these amazing assistants and I want to be able to guide them and teach them, but that moment when it happens, it just happens you know? It’s like when people say they’re getting married and they knew because it just happened, it just happened! It worked. We got one client at Interscope and from there we became the go-to band stylists. And at that point it was all about music. The music industry’s changed so much.
What was your first big shoot? The first one that made you go, “Wow, this is awesome.”
E: Mischa Barton, believe it or not. I know that’s not band related, but she’d just started acting and she was major.
M: And then every new band that got signed to the label, they’d bring to us, sit us down and make us listen to the album and ask, “What do you see?”
E: It was like an image development thing at the beginning, which we’re so grateful for because that’s not how styling is these days, but it totally informs what we do and how we still style. We got to brand ourselves as stylists who think about what works business-wise and not just, “That’s pretty,” though we do that, too.
What was the biggest challenge when you started?
M: I mean when you start out and you’re that young you’re broke anyway, so you really have nothing to lose. It’s not like we quit our day jobs, and we were so resourceful. Like, “Oh I heard so and so started a business,” so we’d take them to lunch and get everything out of them, like how does it work? Everyone we knew, we’d say something like, “Hey! I’ll make you a customized shirt if you show us how to use this computer program, or how to get a business license.”
E: When you’re young and hungry and there’s two of you together, it’s just so much fun. But the hardest part is meeting the designers and getting enough cred to be able to pull what you want. But we were just so nice, and we really tried to be kind and thoughtful and return perfectly and be so responsible and that really helps. Those designer relationships are hard to build.
M: Yeah it was kind of like do one favor for everyone, and it always works in your favor.
How’d you transition from music into fashion?
E: We got an agent pretty quickly. And then it was a natural progression.
M: You know we’d do a music video and meet the director who’d ask us to do his commercial, which would lead to a fashion client.
What’s it like styling commercials?
E: It’s so different.
M: I love it!
E: We have a little bit of a different—
M: I hate editorial—
E: And I love editorial.
M: And I love ad jobs and commercials.
What’s the process like?
M: Ad jobs? Way more of sitting down at a round table, story boards, market research. They hire you to come in and do everything.
E: But there are more rules. You want to get the best you can within certain parameters—and there are a lot of parameters.
Can you give me an example?
E: We just did Neutrogena with Vanessa and Emma Roberts.
M: We’ve done so many beauty ones—Sally Hansen, Carls Jr., K-Mart…For Neutrogena it was like here, you know the girls, you know the product, make them look the best you can and it has to be about the product. So we have a pretty defined roll.
And you like that?
M: Yeah it’s fun!
E: I like it, too. Don’t get me wrong- I like weird feathered things and high fashion, I like the freedom of editorial. But editorial’s a labor of love and at the end of the day after an ad job, it’s like, “I can pay my rent.”
LA’s not as editorial a town, have you ever been tempted by New York?
E: Oh yeah definitely.
M: No. I’m a warm weather girl, but there’s a freedom to styling in New York. Though I’m totally intimidated by that whole getting clothes in a cab kind of thing.
E: We used to work there a lot. Last time we were there we were in Silvercup Studios for like a week and I felt really bad for the girls who work there. I mean we work on the beach, even our studios are on the beach. And these girls have to work like underground in Long Island City and there was like a murder across the street, and it’s pouring rain and I’m just like, “LA’s great.”
M: It’s just different. We do do editorial here, but it’s just very celebrity driven.
So are your creative ideas restricted by the celebrity then? Not necessarily in a bad way, but do you feel that?
E: Everything’s different. Some days you walk out of a job and it’s like that’s not what you had in mind at all, and others you’re just like, “YES!”
What’s one of the most fulfilling jobs you’ve ever worked on?
E: Probably anytime it’s with one of our repeat clients whom we just love: Mandy Moore, Emma Roberts, or back when Fiona [Apple] was promoting stuff. I think when you work with the same people over and over and then you build a rapport with the people they’re surrounded by and it becomes such a team. When Mandy’s last record came out and we built a whole world around it, a mood, and the process becomes organic and so fun.
Do you prefer working with models or celebrities?
E: It depends! It depends on what the project is.
Your answers are too diplomatic!
M: It’s true though! I would say that over the last two years we’re really celebrity oriented.
I think that’s the nature of LA though, I mean few people in New York are working with celebrities. And they’re kind of scary, in a too-cool way. It’s so much more laid back here.
E: Also, our lookbook shoots for Current/Elliot have been such an outlet for us. We’ve been able to create our own world.
Speaking of, let’s talk about the transition from superstar styling team to denim designers.
M: While styling, we were consulting with a lot of brands. And always thinking outside the box and the denim was just a natural progression. We had our vintage denim – bell bottoms, boyfriend jeans – we wore it all the time and we’d start bringing it on shoots and ad jobs and people would always ask, “Oh I want that in the shoot! That has to be in the editorial.”
I hate that in magazines. Half the time I see something amazing it says, “Stylist’s Own.”
M: Or vintage! So then there was so much demand that we started buying every pair of vintage jeans on site and keeping them at a studio with a tailor. It was just out of control.
E: But remember, this was the era of rhinestoned butterflied butts on jeans.
So you tailored the vintage jeans?
M: Oh yeah, we’d take the whole thing apart.
E: Which is why, when we were consulting for Serge Azria’s company Joie, it just happened so organically. We wore the jeans everyday and it was like, “Let’s just re-create these.
E: Everything was so dark, so dressy. There was pink, it’s slutty, you can’t put that with a really glittery top on the red carpet—it looks…
But they did!
M: They did.
E: And most of the vintage jeans that we used were men’s. They had character, the silhouettes were different.
M: Fashion just needed an ease, and denim was the perfect place for it. We just happened to be there at the right time, and everyone unanimously agreed with us.
E: Well, I have to say, we were in a position to create this out of nothing. We could’ve bought a ton of vintage jeans and re-built them, but thank goodness we were in a position in which someone believed in us—when we were consulting for Joie—and he believed in us at a time in which no one was interested in investing in denim.
Because there are 8 million ‘high-fashion’ denim brands?
M: Yeah it’s like there was a new denim line every week—and they all think they’re so different. There was something missing.
E: Serge really let us do something wild. I’m shocked that he let us go there, because it was baggy and ridiculous and it’s hard to even imagine now, but there were no baggy boyfriend jeans on the market. It was ridiculous.
M: So we holed away and hired a few of our friends who really know denim and started printing our tags and ironing on current/elliot patches and finally we show it to him, to Serge, and he was ecstatic.
E: He’d wanted this, something like this, for so long.
M: And he was just thrilled that exactly what we all thought could be great actually came to life.
E: And we were just thrilled to have the samples. We didn’t really expect much more to happen.
Really though? I mean you put that much thought and effort into something you believe in and you would’ve been ok with it ending there?
M: Well we had a celebrity fitting that night, and we were like, “Ok, at least we have our real jobs to go back to.” So it was nice to be distracted. But then we’re at Ashley Tisdale’s house and we get a call from Serge, “The buyers loved it! It’s a brand! We’re going to Coterie next week.”
E: So we did. We went to Coterie that week, went to New York and met with Vogue next week, Bismarck Phillips, just everything in a week, it was crazy.
How did Vogue happen?
E: Meredith Melling Burke was wearing vintage bell bottoms and someone asked her, “Are you wearing Current/Elliot?”
M: And she asked, “What’s that?”
E: And then researched it and tracked us down. And then Barneys jumped in and wanted to launch in first.
M: When people like something, when they’re excited, you don’t have to sell it.
And they were everywhere overnight. Was that weird for you?
M: No. I mean I don’t believe that. It all felt the same.
E: We don’t see a lot of the press, so it hasn’t impacted us at all.
M: There are a few moments. I went to my hometown’s 4th of July parade, and I looked around and saw all of these girls in Current/Elliot and that was a little weird. When you’re in LA you’re in this little bubble and everyone’s wearing it, but it’s just LA.
What’s it like seeing the boyfriend jean everywhere?
E: It can be kind of depressing to go shopping. But our debut collection was 22 pieces, 22 pieces cherry picked from denim’s history—and the boyfriend jean was just one of those 22 pieces.
But it’s what made an impact.
M: But for us, there was so much more. There was no straight leg, no bootcut. The elephant bells? People flipped out over those just as much as the boyfriends. The press was so into the boyfriend, but regular girls were dying for those elephant bells because I don’t think anyone had ever done the true, low-pocket skinny, skinny leg elephant bell at the time.
E: The boyfriend somehow blew up, but I never would have expected it. The whole story, that whole season, was about what we really believed in, as a whole.
Which is probably why Current/Elliot’s still at the top of the pile. How do you balance your two worlds?
M: We just keep them totally separate. We have different offices, different assistants, different hours in the day assigned to each.
E: But at the same time, these worlds are so alike, styling and design. I mean, if we hadn’t come from ten years of styling I don’t know if this would’ve been so easy, day to day. And luckily, for the parts that are difficult for creative souls, we have a great partner.
It’s pretty inspiring to watch you both do each job so well. Thank you!
M: Thank you!
E: Thanks love!
Interview and Images from Fashionista.com
The skinny jean. I love a skinny jean because it makes everyone look long and lean and it looks great with oversized tops or oversized sweaters.
Vintage Wash because it gives you an idea of a great old vintage levi but with the perfect new shape and color, and it is easy to wear during the day with flip-flops or sandals.
Cool girls at the flee market because they always have some interesting ill-fitting 80′s jeans that we get inspired from to make new better fitting washes.
Nicole and Nicky
The Rebel and Black Fade Jeans. The Rebel is new for fall and it is a dark clean wrinkled denim and the black fade is a new faded black that has a vintage feel to it but does not have any rips or distressing.
The perfect comfortable fit
it works with the rest of the t-shirt collection that i do.
Less bleached denim and move vintage feel
Yes, the vintage patchwork Jean because it is a new take on a 60/70′s bellbottom hippie look with a new silhouette that’s right to wear now and Nicole Richie rocked it at a basketball game.
JET is all about the fit and the fabrics, it is your casual jean and your sexy date jean. Jet started when I was buying vintage levi’s and bleaching them and making them into shorts in the late 80′s while I was a sales person at Fred Segal Melrose. Then the line grew into t-shirts and printed sweats…then in 2006 we added the Jean division as you know it now and relaunched the line in 2008 to include solid jersey novelty tees and sweaters and more jeans.
They do not bag after a few wears and they form to your body
Known for their soft denim and great fit, Genetic Denim has given an interview with Shopbop on the start of the brand and his favorites from the collection. Read some of the interview below:
Before Launching Genetic, you went on a cross-country road trip, visiting college campuses to find out what women want in their jeans. What compelled you to take this rather unorthodox, grassroots approach?
I’ve always been a heavy traveler and find that I learn the most when doing so. All the places that I’ve been in the world have influenced me one way or another. The trip you’re referencing is a perfect example. I ended up meeting 25,000 women and discovered what’s really important to them when it comes to the fit of their jeans. I think that’s the reason we have such a clear and strong vision, and what really sets Genetic Denim apart from everyone else…
What did you learn?
I learned a lot about what was missing in the denim market. I discovered that the top 5 inches below the waistband are the most crucial fitting elements in a pair of jeans.When it comes to jeans, the thing women care about most is how they look and feel in the high hip and behind.
What new Genetic style are you particularly excited about this season and why?
We are really excited about our denim sweatpant, the Val, which is a look that we were the first to introduce into the denim market. It’s a style we love, looks amazing, and takes the concept of jeans to a new level.
Click here to read the full interview at Shopbop and check out some of the new styles below.
Inerview and Photos Courtesy of Shopbop.com
We caught up with the wonderful premium denim brand 7 For All Mankind for an exclusive interview! We asked Rosella Giuliani, the VP of Design & Merchandising for the brand, a few questions to see what she had to tell us about the brand. She talks about what is hot for the coming season, some interesting info on Cameron Diaz’s jeans, what their best sellers are and more! Carry on reading to find out about the brand. A huge thank you to Rosella for taking the time to answer our questions!
DB: Do you have a favourite cut you have designed?
I have several. It really just depends on the day, occasion, etc. Currently I love the women’s skinny fits and the men’s Rhigby.
DB: What inspires you when designing a jean or creating a wash?
Our design team is inspired by any and every thing. Art and architecture, music, people on the street, our team is truly inspired by the world around them.
DB: How many pairs of jeans do you own?
So many I don’t keep track anymore!
DB: What 7 For All Mankind cut has been the most popular overall for both men and women?
From day one our Bootcut jean has been the most popular cut for both men and women. Today, slimmer fits are trending. For men it’s our Standard fit and for women The Skinny and the Gwenevere.
DB: What is your latest collection about?
For our women’s spring 2010 collection, we created a whimsical, ethereal mood by mixing unique, airy fabrications in unexpected ways. This infuses the collection with texture, color, and visual interest. The focal trends of the season – Mixed Fabrics, Peek-A-Boo & Repair, Second Skin, and Skirts & Shorts – each combine to celebrate the luxe lifestyle of an Ethereal Gypsy.
Our men’s collection was inspired by the artistic individualism of the Bohemian movement. The 7 For All Mankind Spring 2010 collection modernizes the off-beat, unconventional sensibility of Bohemian culture with clean, sophisticated elements. The focal trends of the season – 2.0, Focused Novelty, and Texture & Color – combine to create the aesthetic of a Refined Bohemian.
DB: What was the very first jean by 7 For All Mankind?
It was our Bootcut in New York Dark – it was the jean (and the squiggle!) that started to put us on the map!
DB: 7 For All Mankind jeans are worn by so many celebs, do you have a favourite celeb who loves the brand?
We love and appreciate all of our loyal celebrity fans! Celebrities are very image driven and are always looking for something that makes them look and feel good. They are looking for jeans that fit them well and that maintain an air of exclusivity. 7 For All Mankind is one of the few premium denim brands out there that can give a celebrity exactly what they are looking for. Over the years we have developed a unique relationship with celebrities and their stylists. A great example is the case of Cameron Diaz’s Vintage Nakita Roxanne jean. Her stylist, Rachel Zoe came to us to ask to ask for a heavily distressed skinny. We developed the jean specifically for Cameron and it became such a hit we produced it for all consumers. This is also how we developed the Vintage California Bell Bottom as well. Celebrities are important to use and work hard to maintain those relationships. It’s great that they continue to come to us for their fashion denim needs.
DB: We love your gummy denim leggings! Will we be seeing more of these in other washes?
Not only will our leggings be available in other washes, but they will be available in other fabrications as well! You’ve seen our new Mineral Blue wash on Sienna Miller already – that wash is so beautiful and so unexpected! One of our key initiatives for the F2010 season is the inclusion of non-denim textiles. We’ve hit the mark with our Gummy Corduroy in beautiful shades of Aubergine, Olive and Peacock as well as our neutral toned Lightweight Twills. It’s a sexy and sophisticated update to our amazing skinny fits.
DB: What is the best feature of 7 For All Mankind jeans (fit, wash, pockets etc)? If I could answer I would say fit because they are so flattering!
I think that we are best known for our extraordinary fit. We spend months perfecting the fit of our jeans to assure our customers they are getting the best fitting product in the market.
DB: We all love denim, but what is it that makes denim so important to you?
Denim is classic, season-less, and versatile. It’s the go to piece in everyone’s closet.
DB: What are your denim predictions for next season (FALL 2010)?
Although I think that skinny fits are here to stay, I believe that wide leg fits will be making a comeback! We are introducing our new Trouser which is done in beautiful drape-y denim – a must have for fall 2010. Non-denim will also be making an appearance in a big way. One fabric we are particularly excited about is our new Gummy Corduroy. It is an incredible, stretchy cord that we’ve partnered with several of our fits for sophisticated, chic silhouettes.
DB: Do you have a favourite piece from your new SS10 collection?
There are so many amazing pieces it’s impossible to choose just one! I love the new mineral washes on the Gummy Denim and the Romper.
DB: Can you tell us a bit more about your brand for the readers who are new to the brand?
The story of premium denim is one that is intrinsically intertwined with the launch of 7 For All Mankind in Los Angeles, California in the fall of 2000. 7 For All Mankind was the first company to truly bring premium denim to scale and it changed the landscape of denim forever.
7 For All Mankind’s premium jeans literally exploded onto the scene, quickly earning critical acclaim and an immediate following for our innovative use of fits, fabrics, and finishes in denim. 7 For All Mankind has become both an established modern classic for its sophisticated fits as well as a leading trendsetter for its newest fashion forward washes and designs.
Our brand continues to create luxury denim-lifestyle products. 7 For All Mankind is now a multi-category brand and features denim, sportswear and accessories collections for both men and women. Products can be found in freestanding 7 For All Mankind boutiques, on-line at 7forallmankind.com, luxury department and specialty stores in over 80 countries worldwide.
DB: What makes 7 For All Mankind so different from the others out there?
We are the world’s premiere brand of luxury denim-lifestyle products. Other brands position themselves as rock and roll, vintage or heritage. Our positioning is more aspirational and sophisticated while maintaining a cool California sensibility. This is the true differentiator for the brand. 7 For All Mankind is an attitude, an emotion and an instinct. We create products focused on innovation in design, fabric, finish and fit – which makes modern consumers all over the world feel sexy and sophisticated.