Designer Jean Interviews
Not So Long Ago in Southern California, Scott Morrison Was Playing Golf: “I was always trying to reinvent golf clothes in new, more modern ways,” said Morrison, but he knew that there was not too much evolution on that path. Thankfully he was also drawn to denim, where he saw greater potential to innovate and when a mid-90s jeans movement introduced new wash technologies to the industry, Morrison moved to New York to lead Mudd jeans’ march into premium denim – before the term “premium denim” even existed.
With more inspiration than the room to realize it, Morrison was compelled to create his own company. With Mudd owner Dick Gilbert’s blessing and investment, Morrison launched Paper, denim & cloth in 1999. He was the only employee:
“It was me and three pairs of jeans selling to Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Barney’s and Henri Bendel.” Eight months later, he hired a second employee and within four years, Paper denim & cloth was a 40 million dollar business. And his timing wasn’t bad either. The late 1990s saw an explosion in luxury denim. Prior to Paper denim & cloth, the only related companies in the market were Earl (who wasn’t doing washes) and Frankie B.. Soon there were hundreds of companies – start-ups and establishments alike – selling premium jeans. It was a revolution reminiscent of the one that occurred ten years earlier in Osaka, Japan.
Late 1980s: Japan: The Osaka 5 Are Born. Comprised of denim companies Denime, Fullcount, Warehouse, Studio D’artisan and Evisu, The Osaka 5 led the hundreds of brands that emerged to produce replica denim during Japan’s “Replica Movement ”. The period saw a wave of mania via avid collectors pursuing and paying thousands of dollars for vintage jeans. After WWII, U.S. acts to rebuild Japanese economy included donating outdated industrial equipment. Among the imports were original shuttle looms from the 50s. At least one of which still remains at Evisu and facilitated founder Hidehiko Yamane’s fixation with reproducing the Levi’s 1944 501xx. The original pair was made for only nine months.
During wartime, the American government prohibited nonessential production (restricting the use of metals, rubber, paper and plastics ). Temporarily, Levi’s turned to painting on their logo – a technique that Yamane hyper-stylized, hand-painting the Evisu seagull on every pair (about 14 a day as was the max output of the old looms). This attention to detail was exemplary of Evisu production. Fans’ obsession was matched by the designers’ (artisans’) diligence in building each pair. Yamane saw denim as aspirational and Evisu constructed pieces for the connoisseur – to be coveted and collected as luxuries.
Their selectiveness about materials so particular that the replicas were as close to the originals as one could get. In the early 2000s, Evisu boomed internationally. Different pop-culture groups, particularly in Asia, Italy and the UK embraced the cartoonish logo; however Yamane’s focus was (and remains) maintaining the Japanese image, which left the brand quite open to interpretation elsewhere. Says Morrison: “One of the things that’s really complicated about Evisu is that it represents different things in each country.” In the U.S., Evisu became and urban staple brand, “very street” – as well as the most counterfeited denim product in the world. The first denim brand to sell for more than $100 a pair, and the one that spearheaded a worldwide want for premium denim lost its way a few years later.
Please continue reading this interview with lots more pictures by clicking here.
We managed to get an interview with Levi’s Visual Merchant, Benoit Tordeur. They talk to us about styling tips, what’s hot and what will be big next season, their favourite jeans and more. Keep on reading to find out more. A huge thank you to Levi’s for this. You can also read Levi’s holiday styling tips by clicking here.
DB: Which Levi’s jeans do you love working with most?
Dark finish leggings and destructed boyfriend jeans.
DB: Which Levi’s jean is the most popular over all?
Skinny jeans (legging, skinny boot, low skinny) are our most popular style right now.
DB: Which trend have you loved the most so far?
The Boyfriend as it is the most versatile fit. It can be dressed up or down, with flats or Louboutin’s.
DB: Which trend do you wish would go away?
Over the top embellishment, rhinestones and crazy back pocket stitching.
DB: Do you have a favorite Levi’s jean you love to wear? Why?
Customized 501, pegged leg, slightly oversized. I love it because it is the only one like that. You can’t find it in the stores. They are my own and allow me to show belts really nicely (I love a good accessory in an outfit).
DB: What is the biggest denim crime you could commit?
A short bootcut with high heels.
DB: What is your best styling tip?
Always pick the jeans that fit your body the best!
DB: Who is your favorite celebrity you would love to see in Levi’s?
DB: What trend is going to be huge next season?
Clean finishes vs destructed finishes. We need both in our closet. Also, overalls, coveralls and other workwear trends.
DB: How would you describe your style?
Eclectic, authentic, unpredictable, elegant and always with a neck treatment.
DB: If you were only allowed to take 1 pair of jeans away with your for a month, what would you pick?
A pair of 1947 501 selevedge jeans with suspenders buttons.
DB: What is your styling tip for wearing boyfriend jeans?
Complement any Boyfriend look with a feminine element (top or accessories).
DB: I love Denim Leggings, do you think they will be as big next season?
A little while back we gave you the chance to submit your questions for a readers interview with Paige Adams-Geller, the founder and designer of Paige Premium Denim. She has been super busy lately promoting her new seasons collection but she took the time out to answer your questions in depth. Keep reading for the interview. A huge thank you to Paige for doing this for us and thank you to everyone who submitted your questions, we couldn’t use them all but we did use most of them.
Anna: Do you act as the fit model for your own label?
I do act as my own fit model and cross fit on others. I have a regular model that comes in because my schedule gets crazy, but I see things best on my body when it comes to design. It’s how I learned about design.
Bec: Knowing that Paige already has a huge and growing celebrity fan-base, what makes Paige jeans, the jean for every-one?
There are so many different styles to choose from; there is bound to be a style just for you. Pick a rise, pick a leg shape, pick a wash and go. I probably have that kind of jean for you!
Adam: What is your favourite film?
My favorite film is “Little Miss Sunshine.” I was little Miss Sunshine when I was growing up, I looked just like her. I am also obsessed with Hugh Grant movies. “Notting Hill” is one that I can watch over and over and over.
Lorna: What is your favourite colour?
My favorite color is pink and I don’t think that there is anything prettier than green shades found in nature!
Bec: What would you say to someone who hasn’t yet purchased a Paige Jean that was looking to make a good jean-investment?
If you have never bought a pair of Paige Denim, think about what you are in need of or want. What is the purpose – a going out jean, a work jean, a classic? What kind of shoes do you like to wear? Then we go from there to decide what is best for your body shape, purpose, and lifestyle. The foundation of Paige is based on the quality of fabric, fit and finish (the wash and details). I promise the investment will be worth it.
Jen: Do you enjoy designing men’s or women’s denim more? How’re they different?
I enjoy designing both equally. I like the challenge of mens, making sure it is masculine and cool. Experimenting with washes is so much fun, that is mostly what men’s design is about for me. I LOVE designing women’s because silhouettes are so much fun to work on. Details, sex appeal and shape is what women’s is about for me. I just love designing period.
Anna: This is a random one, have you ever met Tory Burch? I feel like you’d be good friends…
Yes, I have met Tory Burch. We were chosen as SHOP etc. Magazine’s top new designers to watch for in 2005 and we had lunch together in NYC with the other designers. She is lovely!
Dian: Since other brands have been starting “recession collections” have you considered that and do you think it brings a brand “down” or hurts the brand name if you do something like this? I.E. Start a lower cost collection?
I do think that a company needs to protect itself and its brand value. While I do believe a company needs to work with its customers and retailers during a recession, a company has to keep its reputation. I recommend staying within certain price brackets and not losing the reputation for good quality. Starting a new lower price line is a good idea but can also be risky. Marketing a new line takes a lot of time and energy. However I would rather have a separate line at a lower price point than devalue the Paige brand and reputation.
Bec: As the company and brand have been growing over the past five years, do you have any *surreal* moments you’d like to share with your fans?
The most surreal moment was when I launched at the Coterie show in NY. We had people in the aisles crowded around to see the product and get in my booth to write the line. I had been so nervous about the launch and I was scared no one would come, so I was really excited with the turnout. Another time I was in Florence, Italy and saw someone walk by me wearing Paige. I thought wow, Paige is International! Another time, before I even launched the line, I was fitting my first proto’s for the Laurel Canyon style and the front desk buzzed me and said that People magazine was on the phone and a writer wanted to meet with me to tell my story. I thought it was a joke. I about fainted, I really had to pinch myself. And now…I still do! I am so happy with my career and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Michelle: Will you be coming out with a cut for girls with smaller waists and bigger thighs? I would love to wear Paige but they don’t suit my body shape.
Yes, I have a style called the Montecito. It is specifically designed for the smaller waist, athletic thighs, or curvy figure and rounder derriere. Check it out on www.paigeusa.com.
Jen & Ali: What direction would you like to see your line go in? Branching out into accessories or other clothes or sticking with denim?
I would love to branch out with more product. Shoes and handbags are a dream. Anything and everything that goes with denim!
Lorna: What is the biggest denim crime you could commit?
The biggest denim crime you can commit is panties hanging out above your jeans!
Bec: What are some up and coming projects in the works now?
I can’t talk about my upcoming projects – they are top secret! But I assure you DenimBlog will keep you posted ASAP.
Jen: Do you have a favourite jean/cut/wash?
I would have to say my favorite jean is the Skyline Ankle Peg because it goes with all of my shoes. I can wear it with gladiator heels, tuck it in my boots or throw on my flip flops or sandals and go. It’s so flattering if you are tall like me or petite. My favorite wash of the moment is Mineral. I am also obsessed with our denim leggings in the Vinyl wash and the Dusk wash. I had them on while on the plane heading home from NY – so comfy!
Lorna: What are your vices?
My biggest vice is shoes, shoes and more shoes. Also puppies, I need more puppies, I have to pet every one I walk by, I can’t help it. I just love them.
Adam: What is your favourite country/landmark/place you have visited?
My favorite place I have ever visited is Capri, Italy, Sienna, Italy, Florence, Italy and Sardinia, Italy. I just love Italy. The food, the people, the architecture, the scenery, the mediterranean, the gelato… I can’t wait to go back.
Lorna: Did you have any childhood hobbies?
My childhood hobbies were singing, musical theatre, playing the piano, and making clothes and cookies for my Barbies and for myself. Oh boy, could I eat cookies!
Bec: If there were ‘jeans commandments’, what would be your top commandments buyers should follow?
Thou Shalt not show butt cleavage.
Thou Shalt not expose muffin top.
Thou Shalt not wear ill-fitting jeans just to be trendy.
Thou shalt not wear baggy diaper-butt jeans.
Adam: What is your favourite song?
My favorite song is sappy. I love Faith Hill so my favorite song is “Breathe” but I can’t just stop at 1 favorite song! I am obsessed with Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” and I can listen to Maroon 5′s “Harder to Breathe” without ever getting sick of it. When I am feeling down, I need to listen to Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” and “Who Wouldn’t Want To Be Me.” My whole company is kind of about “LA Woman” by the Doors, which is also one of my favorites. Those songs are just some of my favorites, I am a music junkie!
Jen: What do you think is going to be the next big denim trend?
The next big denim trends will be all about leggings, jeggings and more leggings and jeggings in all kinds of washes and colors. I am really excited about our Stratus, Coal, Mystery and Coast washes. Also keep an eye out for lots of baby blues this Spring. Baby blue is the new white!
Marc Allison jeans is based in LA, where the line is also manufactured. The Marc of Marc Allison Jeans is a 30-year textile industry veteran. He began in knits and transitioned to denim. Marc became obsessed with creating a jean that stretches in both warp and weft and worked with textile innovator Invista to create the XFIT fabric. Marc Allison’s XFIT denim integrates Supima cotton making it the most luxurious and supple denim on the market. A few pieces in the line debuted at LA Fashion Week during the Directives West runway show at the California Market Center as well. Here is a DenimBlog exclusive interview about the brand and some images of their collection.
DB: What inspired you the most when creating your brand?
Everybody talked about fit and comfort- but nobody recognized how to achieve it. Coming from a textile background, I realize how important it is for the fabric to compliment the pattern.
DB: Do you have a favorite cut you have designed?
I suppose I could say the skinny is my favorite, only because it seems to be the most difficult style to pair up with comfort. It was always my intention that no matter what style is chosen, when the customer put on that jean, the end result would be “wow, is this comfortable and it fits great”.
DB: What has been your favorite memory/experience since Marc Allison was founded?
I have to say that even though I know the marc allison line is beautiful – there is nothing like hearing the affirmation from others- focus group participants and retailers.
DB: How many pairs of jeans do you own?
I wish I could say I owned a pair of marc allison jeans, but, currently, we’re only making them for women. However, I happen to live in my jeans so have about 15 pair.
DB: What is your latest collection about?
Feel the fit. Experience the difference. It’s all about fit and comfort.
As I said before, coming from a textile background, I understand how important it is to create the ultimate fabric. Five years ago I was approached by a textile mill to come up with something new and different for the market. Pulling from my experience with knits, I suggested the revolutionary idea of creating a two way stretch denim. Through further exploration of the concept, the mill I represented learned that Invista, a global integrated producer of polymers and fibers, had already begun research on the creation of a yarn that would allow denim to stretch in the length as well as the width. Working together with Invista, the x-fit was born and introduced to the market, a fabric that offers the ultimate fit, comfort, and recovery. It’s been a three-year evolution of fabric development culminating in the birth of Marc Allison jeans. Today’s fabric has been further enhanced with Supima cotton, which brings the package of fit and comfort to a whole new level. Our jeans fit as good at the end of the day as they do when you put them on.
DB: Are there any new trends coming out next season that we should be keeping an eye out for?
I believe strongly that everything is going to become cleaner looking.
DB: What is the best feature of Marc allison Jeans (fit, wash, pockets etc)?
There are many attributes of marc allison jeans that can be considered the “best” feature. Without a doubt. comfort, fit, and recovery, coupled with fashionable styling.
DB: We all love denim, but what is it that makes denim so important to you?
Though denim is cyclical, even at its low point, it is still an international staple and is very versatile. It is my livelihood and passion.
DB: What are your denim predictions for next season?
I think denim is on an up-cycle.
DB: Can you tell us a bit more about your brand?
We believe that up until now, there was a void in the market for fashion and comfort. marc allison jeans will fill that void. We offer a beautiful looking garment that will fit better and feel better than any other brand. When you put on our jean, you will feel the luxury of supima cotton which complements the innovative technology (X-FIT) that was put into the manufacturing of the fabric.
DB: What makes your brand so different from the others out there?
Put on the jeans- – Feel the fit. Experience the difference.
DB: How did you come to be such a denim enthusiast?
Los Angeles rapidly grew to become the denim capital of the world. At first I said “wow, what a quick way for me to grow a business selling denim with my textile background.” But selling denim quickly stopped being a business and evolved into a passion. Once you work with denim, you realize the beauty and depth of the fabric. It’s like no other.
DB: Why did you decide to create your brand?
You know, I’ve sold denim to all the premier denim designers. And just like a back seat driver, figured I knew how to do it better. And after developing marc allison jeans; I know I was right.
DB: Lastly is there anything else you want to add we haven’t asked?
For years, I would walk into a retail store and see the rows and rows of denim labels. I would contemplate starting my own line, but, surely, with all those labels and being in recessionary times, why would anyone thinking clearly feel they’d have a chance in today’s market? I often contemplate that definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results” so realize, to succeed in the market place we have to be different. And as a textile person- not a manufacturer or a designer, we figured out how to be different- through true fit and comfort complimenting fashion.