Designer Jean Interviews
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We caught up with Michael Silver, the president of Silver Jeans Co. to find out more about the brand, it’s fits, why it was started and of course its 20th anniversary plans!
DB: Congratulations on your 20th anniversary! How does it feel to have been in the business so long?
To be honest it feels like I just started! A combination of exuberance and fear make everyday seem like a new day and challenge. 20 years may sound like a long time but to me it seems like just yesterday that I started the brand. Silver Jeans Co. is also a baby compared to our parent company, Western Glove Works, which is also celebrating it’s 90th birthday this year!
DB: How has Silver Jeans evolved over the years?
Well, in many respects, the basic DNA Remains completely intact. We are “jeaners” and we always have been. We worry about every stitch, every wash formula, every yard of fabric. We don’t manufacture jeans, we craft them so daily the grind of making a perfect pair of jeans is the same. The only difference is that we have expanded the number of styles we make and the audience to which we sell. Our fans include all ages and backgrounds and our product offering in sportswear has certainly grown enormously. But as I said we remain “JEANERS.”
DB: For our readers who are not familiar with Silver Jeans, what makes your jeans so great?
As I just said, we “craft ” them. We are tireless about the details; the way the inside pockets work; the stitches per inch; the shape of every pattern angle on a jean is scrutinized and has been improved over the last 20 years. In the 90 years that our parent company has been in business, we have crafted over 70,000,000 million jeans in our history and learned a thing or two about denim, shrinkage, how product reacts to home wearing and home washing. We have a technology team that literally writes a specification book on each and every style and there are hundreds of styles created yearly. We test and retest our laundry formulas and the stitching and seam allowances. We even concern ourselves with what happens if a jean sits on retailer’s shelf in terms of the light and it’s effects on indigo and fit. We fit and refit every single production run of jeans and our technologists look at every aspect of the laundry and dry processes on prototypes and once again on every production run.
DB: I heard for the anniversary you are reissuing a limited edition jean called the Frisco, can you tell us more?
Frisco was really our breakthrough “item” that helped build the brand some 20 years ago. My Design Director Allan Kemp and I were inspired by old Levi’s, contoured waistbands and processes to create aging for denim (sand blast and stone wash). We also thought flares were totally cool and that the rise and fit on women’s jeans sold at the time were not as good as they could be so we invented a fit “Frisco” with a contour waistband, a super low rise (at the time 11″ was considered LOW) and went on to sell 5 million Friscos over our history. We thought it fitting to celebrate our anniversary by reissuing the Frisco which pays homage to the original – a flare jean, button fly (as my designer says ,the only kind of fly for REAL JEANS ) and used a similar medium stonewash shade. It’s not as high rise as the original at all but it is a higher rise than many other Silver Jeans Co. jeans at 9″. It’s a simple jean that fits as comfortably as it looks!
DB: Do you have anymore 20th anniversary plans?
Other than reissuing the Frisco for the consumer and retailer who love it then, we plan to celebrate with our Silver jean Co. staff “family” in December. Compared to Levi’s or Wrangler, 20 years is really not that old. I think I will save the big celebration for our 50th year. In many ways, we’ve only just started with Silver Jeans Co.!
DB: What makes denim so important to you?
Denim is part of my heritage and part of our company’s heritage so it feels like “home” for us. It just feels natural to be involved in denim. Denim is a fabric and an lifestyle for all ages and all parts of the world! It’s timeless and everyone has a fond denim memory. I, myself, have many many!
DB: Why did you decide to create Silver Jeans Co. 20 years ago?
I had spent my first 17 years with Western Glove Works in the production and engineering side of the denim business (even though I was a fine arts grad !!). So after really wanting a new personal focus and after seeing the successes of many of the licensed brands we manufactured at the time, we started our own “brand” almost as a challenge to myself. After years of making jeans for many of our own work wear labels and many other notable private label retailers, we thought it’s time to take 70 years of experience and put it into a brand that is truly our very own !
DB: What has been your favourite memory since the brand was founded?
There are so many! I think when my Design Director and I would travel the world from Tokyo to Amsterdam to Iowa almost 20 years ago, we had so much fun! We would look at every jean anywhere, tear it apart, study and theorize how it was made, why it was made and then… try and figure out how Silver Jeans Co. could do it better (this was almost always over Sushi and sake!)
Today… many years later, I meet people who have been wearing my brand for 20 year’s that tell me how they still love them.
A new online magazine called The Brander recently interviewed Mother Denim’s Tim Keading. Their LA correspondent met him in person and Tim shared lots of interesting insights with her. You can see a preview of some of the photos above and below and you can read a portion of the interview below as well. You can check out the interview in full and see more photos on The Branders website by clicking here.
Tim Kaeding is something of a star in the US denim fashion scene. His fans enthuse about the skillful cutting techniques that make his jeans flattering to every shape and kind of derriere. But, were it left up to the designer who has worked successfully for jeans labels like “7 for All Mankind” and “The Gap Women’s Jeans,” the subject of his talent would never be brought up. As a Midwesterner from Chicago, he is much too well-bred to do so. Style – in every sense of the word – is his motto.
“I am extremely critical when it comes to fit, fabric and execution.”
Fittingly, Kaeding lives in an elegant Spanish Colonial residence in Los Feliz, a fashionable district to the east of Hollywood. His unerring sense of style is reflected in his home’s interior decoration; obviously, absolutely nothing has been left to chance. Yet, most impressive of all, this perfection comes across as very relaxed and organic. Tim Kaeding likes to use his domicile with its leafy, park-like grounds as a location for video and photo shoots for his new label MOTHER Denim, established in 2010. His home’s West Coast rock ‘n’ roll glamour is both timeless and hip, and captures the essence of MOTHER Denim perfectly.
The actual “glamour engineering,” however, is conducted in a completely different world. South of the 10 freeway in Los Angeles, this is an area that stands for gangland or, as in MOTHER Denim’s case, the city’s bleak gray – aside from the blue southern Californian sky – industrial zone. Kaeding’s office is on the first floor of the production plant – small, cramped, and cheaply furnished. The floor is littered with denim fabric samples; a clothes rack is closely hung with the next collection. The walls are covered with sketches, color samples, and photographs. Books, magazines, labels, rivets, and buttons are spread out on the desk he shares with his two assistants.
We caught up with the co-designer and co-founder of Bleulab denim, Carl Jones, to ask some interesting questions about how Bleulab jeans work as reversible jeans and what’s up next for the brand. The concept of the brand fascinated me and I was very excited to receive a pair in the mail last week. I will be reviewing them next week for you but I’m not going to give anything away yet! Carry on reading to find out more about the brand. You can buy Bleulab jeans at Singer22.com.
DB: So how did you come up with the name Bleulab?
CJ: While traveling, I discovered an unusual piece of fabric that had a double face. This inspired me to experiment with different washes to see how each side reacted, hence the name Bleulab, Bleu as in denim and Lab as in experimental.
DB: Why did you decide to create a denim brand?
CJ: Denim and other types of bottoms is what I do. It was a very natural thought process to imagine that I could create a reversible collection from the piece of fabric I had discovered.
DB: So tell us more about Bleulab for our readers who are not familiar about the jeans.
CJ: Bleulab product is much more and has more personality than a basic pair of jeans. In addition to being completely reversible, with contrasting sides, the collection also presenst a constant metamorphosis of color, washes, prints and other interesting surfaces and textures.
DB: Why did you decide to create a reversible jean?
CJ: Why not?
DB: Was it as complicated as it sounds?
CJ: It was a year or so of constant testing, washing, fitting, hardware development, sewing development, and production development. It was a very challenging experience.
DB: How does each wash, on the inside and outside, complement each other?
CJ: I would not describe it as complimentary, but rather a display of juxtaposition.
DB: What is your best seller so far?
CJ: The basic legging in blue/black and grey/black. They are fantastic go to wardrobe elements and so comfortable for travel.
DB: Do you have a favourite jean you have designed?
CJ: I have a host of favorites, but what I love is the challenge from season to season to develop new ways to wash, print and color my fabrics.
DB: Tell us more about your history with denim.
CJ: I have been a bottoms developer and manufacturer since 1990.
DB: What new surprises can we expect from Bleulab?
CL: We have developed a new technology called laser etching. It is done with a laser machine that uploads artwork and etches it onto the jeans.
We caught up with David, the co-founder and co-designer of Rockstar Denim, to find out more about the brand and the new styles coming out. You can read the interview below and get to know the brand and their new pieces for this season a bit more. We have already seen the cargos on Joe Jonas and they are the brands favourite style right now!
DB: How did you come up with the name Rockstar?
Everyday there are tons and tons of new denim lines popping up┬à. We wanted a catchy, fast and unforgettable name┬à. A Rockstar is someone that really doesn’t want to be another common human being, a Rockstar will always try to be different than others. Well, our idea in launching Rockstar was to bring this concept to the denim market, always trying to be different and to bring something fresh and new to the market every season.
DB: What inspiration goes into designing a pair of your jeans?
Pretty much everything that surrounds me, ┬àbut something very important to me when I’m working on a new development is the communication with the retailers. This is the most important for me. I learned this very fast. They spend all day long with customers, they know what the market needs so ┬àthe communication between us is something key for me.
DB: What is your latest collection about?
We are launching a new amazing capsule for fall┬à for women. We are definitely going towards a higher waisted fit. Boot cut, flare and wide leg will still be around in denim, and twill, but also in stretch corduroy. We are also going to focus a lot on our “Coated” treatment and offer it on different sexy silhouettes, especially on our famous “biker style”! We will be shipping it in a range of 10 colors. You will see a lot of celebrities Rocking our coated pants this fall!
For men, we will mostly focus on our slim men’s cargo. This style has been retailing extremely well with all our customers┬à. We want to build our men’s collection with this item. For fall it will be available in a lot of new colors, treatments and fabrications. Stretch fabrics for men are going to be an essential this fall.
DB: Why did you decide to create your brand?
My family has been in the jeans business for the last 100 years┬à. My grand father was importing and distributing Levi’s in Europe.
My dad created a brand in the 70’s, Mac Keen, and it was the very first high end designer denim line. My mum was a denim fit model and model┬à for 20 years. After Mac Keen, my dad created the successful Blue Cult label in 1999. Frank my older brother was the one behind SacredBlue and the giant 575 denim label.
Denim is in my genes, it was a path I had to follow.┬à As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be in this business. Each time I was going to my dad’s or brother’s office, it was an amazing experience┬à. I was learning and becoming better everyday at how to make a pair of jeans. I was making my own designs and styles┬à, I was addicted to the indigo.
I have never wanted to be like the other kids. When I was younger, most of my friends wanted to be soccer players┬à. As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be denim designer. At school I was selling off price designers denim to the other kids and to my teachers┬à and when I turned 15, I started doing trunk shows and sample sales, it was a great way for me to learn.
Right when I turned 17, something happened in the family business that was a very critical time for us. 6 months later, Frank and I joined forces by deciding to launch something new and fresh. We launched Rockstar for the best and to try and forget the past. ┬àRockstar was made out of our passion and knowledge for denim.
DB: Do you have a favourite cut you have designed?
Yes! Our slim men’s cargo. ┬àIt’s a must have for men. The idea was really to turn a staple of America’s wardrobe into something fashion forward for men. It’s fitted from the waist till the knee. It’s really a European fit. The fabric is stretchy and super comfortable.
This pant has so much detail, it’s really an amazing piece┬à. Once you have worn it once, you really cant live without it. You can buy them at Nordstrom by clicking here.
DB: Do you have a favorite wash you have created?
I think my favorite wash is our pigment spray wash. ┬àIt’s actually more a hand spray than a wash, ┬àit took our laundries and airbrush contractors 6 month to come up with the perfect formula┬à. In the production process there are close to 15 operators involved to create this wash.
It’s black pigment sprayed on top of a grey denim fabric. The irregularities of the hand spray is creating this amazing black vintage wash┬à, there are so many highs and lows. It’s an amazing wash!
DB: How many jeans do you own yourself?
Probably close to 50 pairs. But I have been wearing my medium biker jeans for the last 2 years┬à. I can’t wear something else┬à. I’m addicted to this pair. Nothing can replace them.
DB: Your cuts look really good, what type of woman and man do you envision wearing your brand?
There is not really 1 type of man or woman for our product. Our products are designed and fitted to make women and men feel good, sexy and comfortable┬à. I think that to wear our product, people need to be willing to try something new and not stay stuck in a basic 5 pocket jean. Once our product is understood, it’s always becoming your wardrobe favorite! To all of you readers, give us a try! You wont be disappointed!!
DB: We all love denim, but what makes it so important to you?
Denim is part of my life┬à, I can’t picture my life without it┬à. My dad met with my mum during a fitting 40 years ago. If denim was not invented in the 1870’s I probably wouldn’t be here today. Denim runs my life.
DB: What makes your brand so different from the others out there?
We are following our passion and hearts… Not the $ sign
DB: What is the best feature of your jeans?
Definitely our washes and fit! We are spending hours and hours in fittings and with our wash houses adjusting our washes to provide the very best for our customers and fans! Rockstar is not only a denim brand, we have been expanding our collection: We now offer cashmere, t-shirts, belts and jewelry!