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Q&A With OPENMARKET Menswear Denim Brand’s Kevin Chen


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

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Posted Apr 02 2012 in Denim News » Interviews

Denim Therapy Asks About Your First Favorite Jeans


Remember your first favorite pair of jeans? The ones you wore everywhere, with everything? The ones you didn’t wash for weeks on end because dirty favorite jeans are better than other, lesser jeans? And, do you remember the day you realized you’d worn them out so much that they were unwearable? Knee holes, crotch blowouts, four inches of hem destruction… We set out on the streets of New York to ask people about their most beloved blues, and the stories remind us of people talking about a close friend whom they’ve lost forever.  It’s a lesson for the masses, though, because Denim Therapy can fix your denim best friends! Spread the word! Save your jeans!

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—Sarah Greene

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Posted Mar 15 2012 in Denim Fashion » Interviews

Exclusive Interview With Brice Partouche Of April77 Denim


We’re really psyched that we got the chance to Q&A Brice Partouche, designer of French denim brand April77,  1/2 the mastermind behind the April77 x Calla Romantic Rights collaboration (which turned out some seriously dreamy jeans). Brice revealed some admirable denim snobbery and, very interestingly, an interest in creating jeans out of Lady Gaga‘s hair.

Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning. How did you know you wanted to be a designer?

Brice Partouche: I never wanted to be a designer. I studied medecine. I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon! But I was into music too, playing in bands. Fashion wasn’t (and still not) important to me. It’s all about attitude.

My dad was a jeans maker and I learnt everything from him, even if he tried to keep me out from this business. I guess he wanted me to have a real job… and now we are working together. April77 is a family company. I started the brand in 2001. The idea was simple : clothes that me and my friends want to wear.

DT: Are there other denim brands you consider your immediate competition? How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?

BP: We don’t have competitors and if we have well I don’t know them. I guess we are different from others brand because we have a real story to tell. We’re authentic and passionated and that’s what make our customers special. They are more “fans” than customers.
People who knows me will tell you, I’m a real nerd. I feel only concerned by authentic denim brands and I try to avoid that profusion of storyless denim brands flooding the market.

DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?

BP: You mean like doing pagan rituals, turning upside down black jeans and waiting for the inspiration? Well not really, but I try to leave Paris for 2 weeks, going to NY or California. The USA have always been my most inspiring country.

DT: Describe the person who represents your ideal target customer—the customer you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.

BP: I figure a one-step-ahead teenager or a 35-year-old guy still stuck in his skaboarding years. At least, both are music nerds , clever customers and not under the fashion industry influence.

DT: What would be your dream collaboration? Any plans of that in the future?

BP: Jeans made with Lady Gaga’s hair would be awesome. But a collaboration with Henri Rollins would be the absolute dream!

DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites, and how would you style them?

BP: The JOEY Overdrive Raw is our best seller. It’s our basic skinny jeans in natural indigo raw denim. It’s unisex. DICTATOR are a slim/straight jeans, very popular too. Raw jeans with a blank or band tee are the best… I’m not a fan of washings. I ‘ve always prefered raw blue or black denim. It’s a real pleasure to see that our customers prefer raw denim as well.

Of course we make couple of washings. They are always inspired by my personal or my friends jeans after 6 months or one year without washing or cleaning. I know it sounds dirty but that’s how jeans are supposed to be worn.

DT: Do you have any favorite/least favorite denim trends right now?

BP: I like open end denim. They were famous in the 70’s and 80’s , when denim fabric production became massive, suppliers had to make cheaper denim. The quality was good because the fabric was thicker…but the price was cheaper.

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?

BP: Well, street style is of course one of my main inspiration. I’m lucky because my job makes me travelling a lot. I meet very inspiring people, some are my friends, some are just random cool guys and girls.

DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?

BP: Guess what, I have two pairs : one blue, one black. I wear them till they die, then I change.

DT: Favorite celeb wearing your brand?

The Kills, Amy Winehouse (when she was around), Julian Casablancas.

 

Keep an eye on April77 for denim-snob approved releases this spring! Huge thanks to Brice Partouche for doing this Q&A with us.

—Jackie Racer & Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Mar 02 2012 in Denim News » Interviews

Video: Interview With Raleigh Denim’s Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko


We had a chance to interview Raleigh Denim Workshop designers Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko during their NYFW Fall 2012 presentation, and they let us in on their minimal carbon footprint, innovative fabric contents (ever hear of fabric made from recycled TV dinner trays? Neither had we!), and how they’re aiming to create the backbone of your wardrobe. Check it out below.

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If you missed the original post, click for our Raleigh Denim FW’12 photos and review.

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Feb 20 2012 in Denim News » Interviews

GUESS & GUESS By Marciano Spring 2012 Preview Party


We were invited to the GUESS & GUESS By Marciano Spring 2012 preview party last week to scope out what the brand is offering next season, and this first photo sums it up on the ladies’ end! Strong primary colors and pastels mixed with jewel tones, neons, bold prints, and sportswear that styles seamlessly from a day at the office to a night on the dance floor. Prints were a huge focus and came in varieties like floral, zebra stripe, and Monet-esque motifs that met in the middle of casual and elegant.

The denim silhouette of choice? The cropped-skinny jean! Styled with? Sheer button-down blouses and rocker-chic jackets. We also spied a long denim skirt we would love to prance around on the beach in this summer. See below for more, including the men’s styles.

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Check out the fresh spring collection and stylish attendees below:

 

See our vide of the event below:

 

Photos by Raffael Flores-Contreras.

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Feb 06 2012 in Denim Fashion » Interviews » Reviews: Brand

Denim Therapy’s Eric Reviews His New d.brand Raw Denim


Denim Therapy‘s newest (and funniest) team member recently discovered the joys of a crisp, new pair of raw denim thanks to the cool, Swedish, DT favorite: d. brand.  Check out Eric’s review below, and see how a six-foot-six guy goes from wearing nothing but GAP jeans to being a raw denim luvr 4 lyfe!

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—Sarah Greene & Eric Schmidt

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Posted Jan 13 2012 in Denim Fashion » Denim Menswear » Interviews » Raw Denim Project » Reviews: Brand » Uncategorized

Hypebeast: Donwan Harrell of PRPS Talks Selvedge, Japanese Craftsmanship & Black Cars


Wouldn’t you just love to pick the brains of some of the world’s top denim designers?  Well, Hypebeast was thinking that very thought and went forth to conquer a really cool interview with Donwan Harrell, founder of PRPS.   It’s a snapshot of this designer of highly-coveted jeans, known for its quality, attention to details and unconventional finishing processes.  What does Harrell think about selvedge denim, Japanese craftsmanship, the the story behind the use of purple in his collections, and his love of black cars—read it all at Hypebeast.

An interview with Donwan Harrell, founder of PRPS Japan denim.

 

—Kathy Ng Hassan

 

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Posted Dec 06 2011 in Denim Fashion » Denim News » Interviews

An Exclusive Q&A With CLOSED


CLOSED is known for classic clothing that meets two basic needs for every modern consumer: function and style. Unhindered by passing trends, the CLOSED collections for men and women are a mix of utilitarian-inspired details, carefully calculated fashion-forward silhouettes, and often neutral color stories that celebrate the rich hues of their denim looks. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Closed Spring/Summer 12 lookbook, you’ll want to do that ASAP.  We had the opportunity to discuss the future of CLOSED and get a sneak peek at what’s going on behind the scenes as well in this exclusive interview below.

Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning.  What inspired the beginning of the brand?

Closed: The desire to produce authentic, wearable clothing is what inspired us to get the brand off the ground and it continues as our primary motivation today.

DT: Are there other denim brands you consider your immediate competition? How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?

Closed: We don’t like to think of other denim brands as competitors, but as comrades. Hopefully we can inspire and push each other to keep working with innovation and artistry. We distinguish ourselves from all the other denim brands because of our highly researched design approach, our innovative dying techniques, and the fact that we’ve been at this for several decades now.

DT: Does your team have any pre-designing rituals?

Closed: We don’t have any specific pre-designing rituals, but we always strive to keep open eyes and minds to the amazing creativity that is going on around us.

DT: Describe the person who represents your ideal target customer—the customer you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.

Closed: Closed is a family brand and we really design for the whole family, all the way from kids to adults. Our clothes are designed in mind with quality, versatility, and comfort – and let’s face it, those three factors are important for everyone (especially when they look good).

DT: Can you give us a hint about what’s next?

Closed: For Spring/Summer we introduced a new satin band along the side of our chino’s which looks so fresh, so its about meshing fabrics this year an element that continues for Fall/Winter with leather matched with sweats/cashmere blends.

DT: What would be your dream collaboration? Any plans of that in the future?

Closed: We are always dreaming up fantastic collaborations in our heads. Closed is a family brand and we truly operate as a family unit with a homegrown approach to collaborations. We are currently casting our next “X Series” campaign, an ongoing collaboration with ten innovators from ten different cities around the globe – art collectors, artists, actors, bloggers and more.  The campaign celebrates individualism variety, creativity and location.

DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites, and how would you style them?

Closed: The chino’s are always a hit – they fit perfectly and are basic enough to be dressed up or down.

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?

Closed: Tremendously. We are constantly inspired by street style from across the globe. Our designing is directly influenced by the creativity and innovation from bloggers, artists, editors, and friends.

DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?

Closed: Too many to count…

DT: Favorite celeb wearing your brand?

Closed: Jake Gyllenhaal always looks good in CLOSED, as does Elle MacPherson. She really knows how to mix up a sophisticated, ultra-chic elegance to our jeans.

—Jackie Racer

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Posted Dec 02 2011 in Denim News » Interviews

An Exclusive Q&A With Cheap Monday


We love Cheap Monday! Is it any secret? We’re all about affordable denim with great fit—so much that we want you to have some too, which is why we’re giving away five pairs of Cheap Monday jeans this week. We had the chance to chat up Örjan Andersson, Founder and Creative Director, to find out what’s up with the brand for next season, and get a little more back story on their origin. Read on, and get ready to kick the Monday Blues!

Denim Therapy: What inspired you to get this brand off the ground?

Cheap Monday: Me and a couple of friends had a small store called Weekday in an alley, in central Stockholm. The store carried high-fashion and exclusive denim brands mixed with second-hand clothing. In 2003 I felt that there was a need for a cheap alternative to the expensive LA jeans brands that were sold in the store. I designed a pair of jeans in unwashed stretch denim that sold really well. After that it was natural to continue designing (hadn’t done it that much before).

DT: How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?

CM: We are the only brand that calls us “cheap”, we are often sold side by side with expensive designer brands, we have our own look (the Cheap Monday ass), we were really early to get fashion guys wearing stretch jeans and our collections have always had a high fashion-level.

DT: Describe the person who represents your ideal target customer—the customer you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.

CM: A young student that’s into music.

DT: Can you give us hint about what’s next for upcoming season?

CM: For SS-12: lots of coloured denim

DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line?

CM: Tight fits in dark denim.

DT: What are your favorites, and how would you style them?

CM: Our original fit tight is my favorite. I use them with a nice t-shirt and a pair of sneakers.

DT: Do you have any favorite/least favorite denim trends right now?

CM: The 70’s look is one of my favorites right now.

DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?

CM: Haven’t counted them, but it’s a lot.

Check out Cheap Monday online, and be sure to enter our contest by Friday!

—Jackie Racer

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Posted Nov 23 2011 in Denim News » Interviews

We Talk Denim Awards With People Style Watch Senior Market Editor Marissa Rubin


As most of you know, People Style Watch had an epic round of Denim Awards to delve out recently, bestowing honors like Best for Work, Most Eco-Friendly, and Best Butt Boost (see a list of awards and winners below). Honorary titles like these label each winner an “It-Jean” in its category, and makes finding problem-targeting denim easier for consumers to find. We had a chance to ask Senior Market Editor Marissa Rubin a few of our own questions about the awards. Here’s what she had to say.

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Denim Therapy: Which brand(s) are you surprised didn’t make the list?

Marissa Rubin: This question for me is really more about the fact that I was surprised a certain jean didn’t win a specific category—or it didn’t even place. Yet then we’d consider it for another category and it’d win.  It was unbelievable how everything ultimately came together.

DT: Which brand is your personal favorite in terms of fit?

MR: I am a big fan of DL1961.  Their jeans are made with revolutionary four-way stretch denim called XFIT, which NEVER loses its shape.  It’s unreal! They honestly suck me in and never sag, bag, or stretch out—regardless of how many wears! I own them in flares, skinnies, high rises, etc. and I always feel my thinnest in them.  Plus they have great back pocket placement, so my butt looks lifted and my hips appear narrower—which as a curvy girl my backside is always my biggest gripe.

DT: Which new denim brand are you looking forward to trying out?

MR: In addition to its affordable price point and great fit, it goes beyond basics with its spot-on trend driven jeans.  I am truly loving this new line!

DT: Which of your favorite fashion labels should be creating a denim line?

MR: Rebecca Taylor. Her brand already resonates with celebs and fashionistas everywhere, so denim seems like a great addition. From her signature florals, to her chic animal prints, I’d love to see this New Zealander’s girlie feminine take on jeans.

People Style Watch Denim Award Winners

StyleWatch hand-picked the best jeans of 2011 and takes a look at the most flattering, well-designed, perfectly priced styles out there.  We started with more than 700 pairs and whittled it down to the top choices in 25 categories.  From petite to plus-size, slimming to butt-boosting, supersexy to eco-friendliest, StyleWatch’s Denim Awards has it all and plenty of ideas for some new favorites to try. Denim Award Winners include:

Celeb Fave Style: Paige Demin ”Verdugo Ultra Skinny” for $158.  Tons of celebs from Gwen Stefani to Kate Moss to Rachel Bilson are fans of the soft, super stretchy skinnies.  They look great with a simple top, blazer and a great pair of heels.

Celeb Fave Brand: J Brand. Trendsetting brand in a variety of styles including skinny, flared, trouser and dark washes, and worn by celebs like Heidi KlumBeyoncéKim KardashianAngelina Jolie and more.

Most Comfortable: Red Engine “Flare” $168

Best for Work: Raven Denim “Mackie” in Dark Star $196

Sexiest: Gap “1969 Gummy 5-Pocket Legging” in black $69.95

Most Eco-Friendly: AG Adriano Goldschmied “Farrah Skinny” $210

Best Stretch: Agave Denim “Fortuna” $198

Most Slimming: Hello! Skinnyjeans “NiteWash Barely Bootcut Slimming Jeans” $178

Best Body-Shaping: Denizen From Levi’s “Totally Shaping Mid Rise Boot” $27.99

Best Butt Boost: Black Orchid “Black Jewel High Rise Skinny” $118

 

For the complete list of Denim Award finalists, please see page 143 in the November issue.

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Nov 16 2011 in Denim News » Interviews
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