Designer Jean Interviews
We had a chance to interview Creative Director of OPENMARKET, Kevin Chen. OPENMARKET is a new brand that modernizes the classic James Dean look into pieces that are sure to be classics themselves and coveted by many who own them. The collection is amazing. There are some really great pieces, especially those striped trousers and those jackets. You can read about how he first started in the industry, what inspired him this season, and more below. You can also see looks from the current look book below.
DenimBlog: How did you get your start?
OPENMARKET: I started working in the fashion industry back in 1983 while I lived in New York. It was then that I fell in love with fashion. Over these past 30 years, my experience includes working in the garment factory as a trim buyer, pattern maker, and a production manager. I was also an owner of several high-end retail boutiques in California. For a brief time, I also designed an exclusive men’s dress shirt and neck-tie label under the name “Cinn Kediaoni” which was made in Italy as well as a private label leather jacket brand for Bergdorf Goodman.
The experience I attained from my previous years in the industry has led me to launch MEK Denim, where I was a founder, CEO and Creative Director from 2005 – 2011. I have always been passionate about fashion and its high pace. Although the fashion industry has been rewarding to me in many facets, it has also been challenging at times. However, I enjoy overcoming the challenges and being on my toes. Most importantly, I find being in the fashion industry allows me to be on the forefront of what the next big thing is, and that I find truly exciting.
DB: What made you want to start your own line?
OM: My vision for OPENMARKET was to create a platform that would allow designers and artists to work with me to build a company and a brand that represents these individuals in a UNITED environment, where each individual associated with the brand is PASSIONATE and SUCCESSFUL in what they do, and from that, to be able to achieve their personal WEALTH. I envision OPENMARKET as a place where I am able to bring creative and like minded individuals together. I can only hope that my contribution to the fashion industry is to give you another reason to smile.
DB: How did you come up with the name OPENMARKET?
OM: Well, my wife, Cynthia and I are quite fond of flea markets. It’s a pastime that we both enjoy doing together. Often times, we would attend the Rose Bowl Flea Market to rediscover old ideas, and to see if we can reinvent them and make something new from it. We have always found the idea of a flea market to be very unique and extraordinary because you never know what you’ll find, but you’re almost sure you’ll find something cool and interesting by the end of your search. In short, the name OPENMARKET comes from our love of flea markets and while on a drive with Cynthia upon this open road, the word OPEN came to her mind, and she suggested OPENMARKET. In other words, that OPEN road ahead of us signified the thought of simply being OPEN to ideas and staying OPENMINDED. Hence, OPENMARKET was born.
INDi, an online custom premium denim brand, wants to change the way you shop for jeans. On their site, www.indicustom.com, you step into the designer role and choose every style and fit detail about your jeans. With prices comparable to other premium denim brands, it seems that custom is now available to the masses. That’s not to say that celebrities aren’t jumping on board too, INDi already counts Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren and a number of NBA players among their list of custom denim converts. We talked to Ali Fenn, INDi’s VP of Marketing to find out what the brand is all about, why custom is hot, and how we can make our own jeans!
DenimBlog: Tell us about INDi! What makes your jeans different than other jeans that are out there?
INDi: Where else do you get to choose all your style details AND get custom fit jeans made from your unique pattern to fit your unique body?? At INDi, you get total control of how you want your jeans to look and how they fit your body.
DenimBlog: I’m a standard size, why would I need to get something custom fit?
INDi: Face it, even the most “standard” sized among us can still struggle with finding jeans that fit. Even if you and I are both a size 4, it’s absolutely possible for our bodies to look totally different. Bodies don’t come in standard sizes, so why should your jeans?
DenimBlog: True! So tell us about your fit profile, how does that work?
INDi: In our fit profile you fill out a few measurements and then answer some simple questions about your body and the way jeans usually fit you. We take this information and use an algorithm to compare your measurements to body scan data from thousands of people to determine your best fit.
DenimBlog: This sounds pretty involved, how long does the process take?
INDi: It takes a customer about 10 minutes to order.
DenimBlog: When we think about all the time we spend goofing off on the Internet, 10 minutes seems like a pretty good trade off for better fitting jeans. But what happens after that?
INDi: Once you click the submit button, we generate your unique pattern within 5 minutes. Then your jeans are cut and sewn individually. Nothing is mass-produced. The whole process takes about 4 weeks, but we do everything in our power to get you your jeans even sooner!
DenimBlog: What if they don’t fit?
INDi: People usually get their fit right on the first time, but if you don’t, no worries. We have a satisfaction guarantee and will exchange your jeans and remake them until you love them!
Ready to try custom? INDi’s custom premium jeans are offered for men and women in a variety of styles and washes. Jeans are available through their website, www.indicustom.com and pricing ranges from $175 – $200.
Well known for its rainbow colors and amazing fit, DL1961 sat down with DenimBlog to give us the real deal on why they’re fabulous. What follows are excerpts from our conversation with Director of Marketing, Sarah Ahmed.
DenimBlog: Your company was founded in 2008, according to your website. Why are you called “DL1961”? What happened in 1961? Does “DL” stand for anything (e.g., Denim Love)?
Sarah Ahmed: DL1961 used to stand for Denim Limited but we shortened it to “DL.” The 1961 is not only the owner’s birth year but in Chinese numerology it adds up to a very lucky number.
DenimBlog: Who is the Creative Director of the Women’s collection?
Sarah Ahmed: DL1961 is a family owned and operated vertically integrated brand. The creative director [is also the] co-owner…Maliha Ahmed, a New York City-based denim designer and veteran of the denim world. Prior to launching the brand with her husband, she travelled all over the world working in different aspects of the denim industry from design to production.
DenimBlog: What is Maliha’s favorite aspect of designing for the women of DL1961? Who does she design for (e.g., urban 20-somethings, career 30-somethings, etc.)?
Sarah Ahmed: For Maliha, it’s all about the product and the fine details that go into making denim. She revels in discovering new technologies, like X-Fit, and creating fits that flatter every woman regardless of age and shape.
DenimBlog: What travels, cultures, books/magazines/blogs, films, music, vintage collections and designers, or trends most inspire Maliha when she’s designing a collection?
Sarah Ahmed: She is constantly on a plane travelling to and from Europe, Asia, and North America. This way, she can get a good idea of the global denim market and trends, and ensure that our product always stays above par. Having said that, her color inspirations usually come from her appreciation of world art and a keen eye for what is hot on the runways.
Stay tuned for more excerpts from our chat with DL1961 coming soon!
We got the chance to do an exclusive live interview with Self Edge founder, Kiya Babzani. We talked about how he got his start, what got him interested in denim, how he came up with the name Self Edge, and more. You can see a few of the questions below:
DB: How did you get your start?
KB: I’ve had an interest in vintage clothing and denim for many years, far before my wife and I opened the first Self Edge almost six years ago in San Francisco. I found that the Japanese were doing reproductions of classic American styles better than the Americans themselves and wanted to bring some of those brands state-side.
DB: How did you come up with the name Self Edge?
KB: Self Edge is a reference to the word “selvedge”. Before the 20th century the edge of the fabric (denim in our case) was called “the self edge”. It was later shortened from “self edge” to “selvedge”. There are still some old tailors that you’ll run into that still call it “self edge fabric”.
DB: What got you interested in denim?
KB: I got really into rockabilly in the mid-90′s and sought out clothing that matched the music. Vintage jeans, johnny-collar shirts, etc… On some trips to Asia I discovered a few Japanese brands which were reproducing these vintage styles of jeans and shirts but had improved them very slightly and the production quality was something I’d never seen before. That coupled with the fact that denim itself is such an interesting fabric I became more and more obsessed with jeans and classic 1950′s style American garments.
It is so great to finally learn how Kiya came up with the name Self Edge. I never would have thought that is was just another form of the word “selvedge.” You can see more of the interview like his jewelry line and his thoughts on resin treatments by clicking here.
Image Courtesy of SelfEdge.com