Tears Of Bleu: I designed and sold my first denim line when I was still a student: 250 units of women’s Jeans, skirts and tops for Urban Outfitters UK that my sister and I cut and sewed ourselves on my living room floor. The collection ended up in Japan and I was offered a design Job. In 2006 I designed a menswear line in Japan and created a few pairs of jeans for myself (because I couldn’t find Jeans that fit me in Japan).
During a sales meeting a buyer asked where I got those jeans and wanted to place an order. Just as I was about to start producing my first order, True Religion Brand Jeans offered me a Senior design position in the US so I put the brand to rest for 4 years.
In 2010 I left True Religion and showed a few pieces that I created to a buyer in Japan. He placed 400 units and said he had never seen anything like it. I didn’t even have a name for it yet, but went with Tears of Bleu after my daughter, whose Japanese name is “Namida Blue” which means Blue Tears. It was a perfect metaphor for denim.
Now we are sold in Japan, US, UK, Germany and this coming Fall we’ll be in Hong Kong and and South Korea.
TOB: I was a civil engineer before I went back to college to study Fashion and Tailoring. I believe in the beauty of construction and every style has elements of tailoring, from the construction of the bound inseams on our premium turn-ups to how we create our women’s skinny to give a slim appearance.
The vibrant colors and processing are a completely new way of coloring denim developed by Jean Genie Studio and myself. I wanted my FW’12 look to represent contrast. I wanted to do color denim differently from everyone else. We use an enzyme wash to strip down the indigo before adding color. This keeps the highs and the lows in the texture.
TOB: No design rituals, only that we continue with the same philosophy as we began with. We work separately from our Japan team who are based in Okayama Japan: they bring classic traditional modern jeans wear, with a vintage twist. The US team brings newness and experimentation. We do regularly exchange ideas inspired by the old, but what we do is for a new generation.
TOB: A true denim lover who see’s denim as a lifestyle, an essential item in their everyday wear, someone who isn’t afraid to try something new, your everyday guy or girl that looks at denim as a revolution.
TOB: I have always believed that trends happen from the bottom up. They begin on the streets and end up on the catwalks. Thanks to bloggers, people are now much more aware of that. It’s the kids on the street that are really the leaders for trying something new and different which is noticed by designers and then in turn becomes fashion. The bloggers feed our desires and needs to know what new!
TOB: My favorite style bloggers are Sara De Franza of SHELOVESUSA (www.shelovesusa.com), consueloblog (www.consueloblog.com) and Issam Hrs.
TOB: It would have to be David Beckham, Zoe Saldana, Lapo Elkann and Gwen Stefani they all have individual self-styles, I would love to see them all in Tears of Bleu.
TOB: The most popular washes are the Milkyway wash—an updated tie dye smoothed out for a flowy, celestial look—Double star and ALEX wash. My favorite fits are the Lennon (our men’s slim skinny), the Chloe (our women’s premium skinny), and the Hendrix boot cut.
TOB: I own 80 pairs of Jeans, Tears of Bleu, G Star, Gap and True Religion.
TOB: What’s next is a new collection of Hand Crafted Jeans. Each piece is unique, not only from a look point but also from the way we approach the aesthetics. All the hardware is authentic vintage, sourced through flea markets and auction sites. The inside of the waistband has a hanger loop that allows the wearer to hang their jeans up like they would a coat and we have also included an aged Leather back patch without any visible branding.
We intend to show that branding can come not only through logos but also through the construction of a garment.
Denim Habit, one of our favorite denim retailers—who happen to have just launched their online retail site—had a few minutes to answer some of our Q’s about brands, trends, and their latest ventures. Check out what CEO Brett Perloff had to say below!
Denim Therapy: We’re big fans of Denim Habit and the selection they provide to denim-lovers. Can you tell us the philosophy behind the brands you carry?
Denim Habit: We carry what we know our customers want. That’s the easy answer I guess. But the reality is that our customers are fashion forward and know what they look and feel great in. It is no surprise that the best brands in the world – the brands that we carry – are the ones who understand these fashions and continue to improve their products, expand categories and evolve.
DT: The e-retail site just launched, which is so exciting! How is that impacting the way you can reach out to your customers?
DH: Aside from being able to offer product in a different medium, our online presence allows us to speak to new customers all over the world who might never have heard of Denim Habit and certainly have not been to one….not yet at least.
We are able to explain who we are and what we do and it gives us a forum to educate fashionistas everywhere, even if they are not buying something. Without a doubt, our website also gives us the chance to learn from our customers in so many valuable ways.
DT: What are some of the most successful brands you sell?
DH: J Brand, DL1961, Adriano Goldschmied, Hudson, Henry & Belle and TEXTILE Elizabeth and James in denim. Non-denim brands that are very strong right now are Joie, Equipment, Patterson J. Kincaid, Feel The Piece, Emile and Zoa.
DT: Do you see the difference between customers for certain brands (ie: J Brand customers vs. AG customers)?
DH: Denim is a lot about fit and certain brands are better for certain body types. So, yes without a doubt, the customers can be different. What’s great about our sales associates is that they are so knowledgeable about our brands and which style fits an individual best. Our customers love that when they come in they are not wasting time in fitting rooms trying on jeans that will never work for them. It’s really one of the things that distinguishes us from other retailers.
As far as our online store is concerned, we are very excited about some new technology that we will be implementing to provide the same efficiency online.
DT: Can you tell us what’s next for Denim Habit?
DH: Special events are always on the horizon because we believe that we are not just a seller of clothes, but a community for those who understand the importance of fashion in our everyday lives – both functionally and as a form of expression. Events where we can get together and celebrate those are really important to us.
Also, we have a very unique program we are about to launch which we really think the fashion world is going to be excited about. All I can tell you is that the end result will be some really great new clothes. But that’s all I can say about that for now.
Shop your favorite brands at Denim Habit!
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: buy jeans online, denim habit, Designer Denim, where to buy jeans
Denim Therapy had a chance to interview Big Star USA‘s women’s designer Miki Flores on the summer lookbook, the brand’s latest happenings, and what’s in store for next season. Go behind the scenes with this exclusive Q&A!
Denim Therapy: We’re in love with the Summer 2012 campaign/lookbook. What was the inspiration behind it?
Big Star: We used “Road Trip” as our theme for the Spring look book. A bit of a laid back bohemian vibe, which fit perfectly with our collection that included vintage denims, neon shorts and easy fitting jersey dress.
DT: Who is the Big Star customer right now?
BS: Our customers are independent and confident individuals who take youthful and modern approach when it comes to styling their outfits.
DT: What kind of washes are being emphasized in the line right now?
BS: We have always focused on bringing authentic denim washes to our customers. For this season, we focused a little more on paler shades and a bit of destruction with a twist of contemporary furnishings.
DT: Does your team have any pre-designing rituals?
BS: We normally take inspiration research trips to Europe or Asia to bring in freshness and also to step out of our daily routines. But doing vintage treasure hunts at flea markets or vintage stores are also very inspiring as well.
DT: Can you give us a hint about what’s next for F/W?
BS: Darker casts in authentic washes, leggings, wax coating, COLORS, prints, cozy cords, and workwear-inspired denims.
DT: How do you see street style/the web/developments in the online fashion community shaping the brand’s interaction (and even its DNA) moving forward?
BS: They play a huge role in shaping trends and what gets accepted at mass level. Most of us are spending more and more of our awake moments online or on our phones and seeing these influencers pushing new and edgier looks is definitely helping trend directions. I believe this plays a huge role on current trends of colors and prints.
DT: Finally, what message would you like to give to denim consumers right now?
BS: Be BOLD!
Visit Big Star USA to view the summer lookbook and shop!
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: big star USA, interview, q&a, road trip, summer 2012 lookbook, vintage denim
Denim Therapy had the chance to interview Agave Denim designer Jeff Shafer on their latest releases, evolving design process, and what sets them apart from other denim brands on the market right now. Check out the answers below!
Denim Therapy: Thanks so much for taking the time to Q&A with us. First, tell us a bit about what the design process is like for each collection.
Agave Denim: First, we have a meeting to discuss our current inspiration. We talk about the mood, colors, textures, graphics, etc, and Lauren makes a giant story board. We review several “top secret” color trend services to compare to our inspiration board before generating a first draft color story. We review thousands of fabrics and order hundreds of swatches. Once we narrow down swatches and finalize our color story, we review accessories, packaging, fits, shapes, and silhouettes. We edit, design, drop, and curate, while keeping emerging trends in mind.
Lauren creates patterns and sews samples for the womens line based on the fits and silhouettes we’ve developed. Then comes the merchandising plan and ordering of sample fabrics. After cutting and sewing the first protos, we make the necessary adjustments, and then start shooting our lookbooks!
DT: Agave Denim is definitely known for rich, interesting fabrics. How do you go about sourcing them? When do you know a fabric is perfect?
AD: Over the years, we’ve gotten to know the best mills in the world, from Japan to Italy, Spain, Greece… But you can only “learn” so much about fabric. In the end you either have the passion and an instinct to know or you don’t. Really beautiful denims and other quality fabrics get me super stoked.
Similar to a chef, a winemaker or a cheesemaker or quality butcher. I can see the potential of a fabric in its color, yarn character, texture, etc. It’s instinctual.
DT: We think it’s awesome that the two of you work as a team and have the technical and creative aspects of the process covered. How has that shaped the way Agave Denim does things differently?
AD: Lauren taught me all the basics of the industry 20 years ago, including how to put a collection together. Our roles differ in that I’m more into colors, pretty fabrics, seeing the design process through rose colored glasses while she is more technical, tailoring, cost sheets, etc. We both have incredible respect for each other. We share the same vision for design, quality and integrity.
DT: Give us three key words that describe Agave’s line.
AD: Authentic WestCoast Luxury
DT: Do you have any favorites in the spring line you want to shine a spotlight on?
AD: For women, the Chica jegging, the Peace Corps tomboy fit Capri, and the Linea jean. For men, the slim fit Maverick limited edition selvage jean, the vintage slub Lobster hoodie, and the classic fit Pragmatist cotton/linen jean.
DT: Describe your ideal female and male customers.
AD: They’re into music, art and fashion… and they’re definitely health conscious.
DT: What would your ideal collaboration be?
AD: I would like to shoot a look book with Ansel Adams. I would like to do a leather collection with Belstaff. I would like to do a Tesla “Model X Agave Edition” automobile.”
DT: What message do you have for denim consumers who are more or less lost in the sea of options right now?
AD: Invest your hard earned cash in high quality timeless pieces. Choose vintage whenever possible, especially where quality is involved. Know the difference between disposable and quality and don’t get ripped off!
Visit Agave Denim online and on facebook to learn more—also, don’t forget to check out their spring 2012 lookbook!
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: agave denim, denim designer, interview, jeff shafer, q&a
Denim Therapy had the opportunity to interview Doctrine Jeans last year, when this denim brand was just starting out. Flash forward a year: Doctrine is still here, and they have matured and are offering innovative and covetable jeans with classic and trendy-setting washes that are certain to be on everyone’s wish list for the holidays, come Fall 2012. We caught up with Doctrine Jeans’ Head Designer Teresa Sung for a quick update on their Fall/Winter 2012 collection. Read what’s new about Doctrine Jeans in their Sophomore year.
Denim Therapy: We love that Doctrine don’t jump on every denim trend in the industry. How do you get inspired each season during the design process?
Teresa Sung: Each season is different. But generally, I would start by seeing the runways for the season ahead and try to absorb trends and details first before starting on our seasonal collection. After the overview of all those information, I have to sort thru what works for our Doctrine and what doesn’t. Many times, I would have to look into our archives to see the particular era and icons to get more inspirations.
DT: What are some denim trends you DO love right now?
TS: I love the fact that denim is getting vibrant with its treatments not only with colors and prints, but in pieces like in patch works and embellishment as well as using novelty laundry techniques in discoloration and clouded effects.
DT: We love the one-piece looks in the fall (the denim overalls and jumpsuit). How do you envision women styling these pieces?
TS: Oh yes, overalls/jumpsuits tend to be made more vintage and work wear inspired. But I saw them from a different angle for this season. Why not sexy and sleek? You can style it with soft white blouses in overalls to maintain its chic look as styled in our Look book. It embodies sex appeal with its flare legs fitted through thigh, showcasing elongated leg shape. You don’t even need to style the jumpsuit except to wear it; flaunt it! And you may want to add a few of your favorite bangles.
DT: Do you have any favorite style bloggers or fashion influentials right now?
TS: The Sartorialist, Jack & Jil and Streetpeeper are just a few influentials that I’m obsessed with now. I really appreciate their keen eyes toward fashion reality from different parts of the world.
DT: What’s next for Doctrine Jeans?
TS: I would like Doctrine Jeans to grow not only in the States, but internationally as well.
Go to Doctrine Jeans online to stay update to date.
Tags: coated jeans, denim designers, Denim Overalls, Doctrine Denim, doctrine jeans, Doctrine Jeans Fall-Winter 2012, jeans for men, jeans for women, ombre jeans, sleek jeans
We first spotted Springa’s shoes at PROJECT NY via Organico Showroom, and we’re still drooling over the fact that these Italian-made sneakers are created from 100% recycled materials. (Yes, that includes denim.) Each pair of shoes is produced in the Tuscan countryside using 1950s vulcanization equipment, for an extra-special handcrafted touch. So even though the raw materials–Hawaiian shirts, striped cotton, tire inner tubes–may be sourced from Berlin, New York, or Paris, the process is quintessentially Italian.
Check out our exclusive interview with Organico Showroom’s Marc Ernst about the line and what’s next for fall 2012!
Most popular shoe style so far?
Springa Aloha (vintage hawaiian shirt lining) and Springa Camo (camouflage in cotton canvas) are the two most popular Spring 2012 styles–each features one of a kind trim and details that are Springa signatures.
What exactly makes Springa’s shoes distinctly Italian?
Each Springa sneaker is made by hand using restored 1950′s vulcanizatto machinery–the cotton canvas, suede, and linings are individually selected to ensure that each shoe is one of a kind–assembled in a process that takes more than two hours for each shoe using artisan manufacturing techniques passed down from generation to generation.
Are there plans to expand the variety of materials used in the future?
Dead stock 13 oz denim, vachetta (vegetable dyed) leather, Carhartt pants, silk neckties, and cotton sailcloth (cotton canvas from sailboats) are recycled and hand finished in Springa’s Fall 2012 collection.
What kind of person do you see wearing these shoes?
Springa is for the individual–our mantra is “escape the industrial mindset”–people immune to mass trends.
How would YOU style a pair of these shoes?
Springa is all about personal style–mixing and matching pattern, color, and materials. For him, mixing the Camo with a tonal herringbone or plaid pant and for her, the Aloha hawaiian print with a batik dress or mini skirt.
Tags: denim shoes, denim sneakers, Project NY, q&a interview, recycled denim, recycled materials, springa
The guys in our office recently became fans of the menswear denim brand OPENMARKET and reviewed a pair of red skinny jeans and dirty-mint skinny jeans accordingly. Launched by designer Kevin Chen, OPENMARKET is all produced, manufactured and designed in LA. We had a chance to ask Kevin some questions and get the behind-the-scenes on what makes this brand unique.
Denim Therapy: Let’s start from the beginning. What inspired you to get this brand off the ground?
Kevin Chen: I’ve always been inspired with all things old and new and I think a lot of that has to do with my affinity with flea markets (like Rose Bowl. It has a lot to do with rediscovering old ideas, and seeing if we can reinvent them. It’s from these experiences coupled with my creative design instincts that I felt I wanted to create a brand that could facilitate old ideas into modern ones. That is the premise of OPENMARKET: a collection that puts new meaning to MODERN work wear.
DT: How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?
KC: We pride ourselves upon the fact that OPENMARKET is 100% made in USA, and not only does the collection comprise of our signature 6-pocket denim jeans, it also includes our uniquely oil-stained carpenters, henleys, Tees, chunky-knit sweaters, leather jackets, blazers, denim jackets, hooded/non-hooded sweatshirts in a multitude of fabrics.
All designs reflect a deconstructed approach to vintage work wear, re-engineered with a modern appeal. We like to believe that we extend beyond the traditional denim line, because our collection is multi-dimensional and offers many essential items. Even our denim is done in a non-traditional way (details like the 6-pocket design set them apart).
DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?
KC: I’m not sure if it would be called a “ritual”, but I do often research trends by people watching and make a mental note of what they’re wearing. From there I meet with my team and we search for vintage garments (often times at flea markets) that possess old work wear details, good for merging with unique and unexpected fabric.
It’s important to me that my designs are timeless and as the brand grows with each season, I want to add new silhouettes and colors that are modified from the original concept.
DT: Describe your ideal target customer.
KC: Our ideal target customer is a self-assured, confident, cultured, and well-composed man. He is artistic, athletic, and is that guy that is admired by his peers. Not only does he have a good job, but he’s a humanitarian that actively participates in charitable causes. During his free time, he enjoys quality dining but can sensibly appreciate hole in the wall restaurants. He goes by the philosophy of working hard, and playing harder.
DT: What would be your dream collaboration?
KC: In the future, I would like to collaborate with a great footwear company. I want OPENMARKET to have a diverse product line that will dress someone from head to toe.
DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites, and how would you style them?
KC: A few of my favorite pieces is the K8-Grey Herring Carpenter pants, O3-Dk Indigo Raw Blazer, O4-Burgandy Leather Moto Jacket, and our ultra plush O6-Black Alpaca Wool cardigan sweater. I like pairing my bottoms with blazers for a more dressed up look, and when I’m doing a casual look, I like wearing it with a basic t-shirt accompanied with some loafers.
DT: Do you have any favorite/least favorite denim trends right now?
KC: I like that trends are leaning towards a cleaner cut with simpler details. What use to be a market full of logo-centric designs has taken a more subtle approach. However, I do think that in the men’s market, bright and vivid colors will be on the rise. Men today seem to be open to colors. I think it has to do with wanting to diversify their wardrobes and express themselves.
I remember when wearing “pink” signified a man as being more fashion forward, but I do believe times have changed, and colors will be very inspirational. I also think that there will be a transition in their wardrobes as they begin to seek non-denim jeans… or should I say the look and feel of denim, but constructed with non-traditional fabrics.
DT: Street style and style blogs are huge in the industry right now as a source of inspiration, influencing the high-end labels rather than vice versa. How much does street style influence your designing?
KC: I take into account what is happening on the streets. There are a lot of distinct styles that I have seen in “streetwear” and I think it embodies a sense of “coolness” to it. When you look at the OPENMARKET collection, I’m sure you can see a lot of elements that are traditional yet modern, as well as street edgy. It’s important to keep in mind that street styles range from the inexpensive & chic to the lux & exclusive. The OPENMARKET collection will definitely encompass all these elements.
DT: How many pairs of jeans do you own?
KC: I own way too many jeans and too many that I call my favorite. But I’m going to be honest, my two most favorite pairs right now is OPENMARKET K1-6 pocket jeans in Dark Orange, and the K8 Carpenter pant! These two pairs have been on serious rotation for me. Both great washes with amazing fit!
DT: Can you give us hint about what’s next?
KC: Denim tops with non denim bottoms, and of course, a lot of colors.
Keep up with OPENMARKET online!
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: behind the scenes, colored denim, interview, Kevin Chen, men's jeans, mens denim, openmarket, Street Style