Last week we introduced you to Tears Of Bleu, the denim brand saturated with color and treated with unique washes. This week, we’re bringing you behind the scenes with designer Caius Olowu. Find out how the brand got its start, where the name comes from, and become a part of the Tears Of Bleu denim revolution!
Denim Therapy: We love the energy coming from this brand. Let’s start from the beginning. Can you talk about the creation story, beginnings in Japan, and how it grew to be what it is now?
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.
DT: What are some of the inspirations and aesthetics behind the designs in the current line? Any story behind the vibrant color scheme?
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.
DT: Are there any pre-design rituals for the team? Do the US and Japan teams meet often?
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.
DT: Describe your ideal target customer.
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.
DT: How do you feel about the massive influence street style and blogs are having on fashion right now?
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!
DT: Do you have any favorite style bloggers or fashion influentials?
TOB: My favorite style bloggers are Sara De Franza of SHELOVESUSA (www.shelovesusa.com), consueloblog (www.consueloblog.com) and Issam Hrs.
DT: Who would you love to see wearing your jeans?
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.
DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites?
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.
DT: How many pairs of jeans do you own?
TOB: I own 80 pairs of Jeans, Tears of Bleu, G Star, Gap and True Religion.
DT: Can you give us hint about what’s next for Tears of Bleu?
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.
Visit Tears Of Bleu online and check out their FW12 lookbook.
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: acid wash jeans, colored denim, denim designer, interview, tears of bleu