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Les Halles Exclusive Q&A

If you were tuned in earlier this week you caught our coverage of the revived ’80s super-denim-brand Les Halles and their newest line of super-fresh jeans and separates for spring 2011. Now we take you behind the scenes with Marlene and Stephen Baum’s daughter Remy, the third leg and inspiration of the 2008 re-launch. See what she has to say about their influences for upcoming seasons, and how many pairs of jeans she owns!


Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning. Give us a brief overview of Les Halles as a brand and your inclusion in the re-launch. What inspired you to take part?

Remy: Les Halles was started by my parents, Marlene and Stephen Baum in 1979. They rose to become one of the most influential denim brands in the United States, but it came to a halt in ’83 because they wanted to focus on family. They went on to design for different top tier denim lines (Jordache, Guess, Gasoline).

The idea for the re-launch came about as I was helping my mother clean out her closet and stumbled upon a pair of her original Les Halles baggie jeans from ’79. I tried them on and couldn’t help but notice that they resembled a pair of jeans that were new to the market and gaining momentum at the time. I approached my parents with the idea of bringing back Les Halles for the next generation. They were thrilled—they loved the idea that the re-launch of Les Halles could become a family affair.

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?

R: We don’t worry about what other brands are doing, but we’ve differentiated ourselves by staying ahead of the curve with fit and working together as a family. All three of us offer a joint perspective unlike any other denim brand: we combine the past and the present. We also maintain a keen sense of what’s next, and try to be fearless with our risk-taking in that sense. We hope to make Les Halles a dominant leader in the denim industry again!

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DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?

R: We are always looking to our vintage Les Halles collection for inspiration, but we also recognize that we have to stay current (or even ahead of the game) in terms of fashion culture. Our goal is to create a collection that features new and original styles reinterpreted for today’s chic, modern woman. We also pull a lot of inspiration from the fashion we see on the streets of NY, LA, Paris, St. Tropez, Florence, London, etc… because those are our customers. It’s important to know what they’re wearing and what they like.

4. Describe your ideal target customer—the one you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.

R: Les Halles is for the fashion-forward woman of all ages that likes to feel sexy and comfortable in her clothes. We strive to create jeans with a fit and feel to brag about. We hope to fill a void in the denim market with our innovative designs and generously priced jeans, because we feel that customers shouldn’t have to compromise their sense of style to save money.

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

R: The worn and torn look of the 70’s was definitely an inspiration for our recent collections, and yet it can also be seen as a reflection of the hard economic times that our country is currently being faced with. The Bell Bottom will be our strongest new body for the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. However, the skinny is still as strong as ever and will be a staple in every collection.

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

R: Isabel Marant. She is a genius, we love her style and would love to collaborate with her to create a collection with the same high-end design but at a lower price-point.

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

R: Our Straw Legging is Les Halles’ version of the perfect skinny jean. You can wear it with a basic tee and a pair of oxfords, or with a chunky sweater tucked into a pair of knee-high boots. Or, dress it up with a wedge and a great going-out top!

Our Zach short has been a best seller for several seasons—it’s the perfect denim cut-off. It comes in a variety of washes, but this Spring our ’70s Blue wash is the most popular. It’s perfect for the beach over a bathing suit, or at night with a bright colored top and a sexy pair of espadrilles.

Last but not least, our Seventies Bell is the newest best seller in our collection. We slaved over this style—it boasts a comfortable yet slightly higher rise and the most precise knee measurement, which ultimately leads into the perfect flare. You can either pair it with a shirt tucked in and a belt or a sexy top.

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

R: Yes! The flared Capri. Something about it just bothers me. If you’re going to wear a Capri then it should be either straight or tight at the calf, and if you’re going to wear a flare it should be long enough to wear with heels. The combination throws me off… I think it ages any person who wears them.

DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?

R: I own at least one pair of every Les Halles jean made in the last 2 and half years (editor’s note: we’re drooling…), which is about 70 units if you include skirts, shorts and twill bottoms. I do have a few “vintage” pairs of jeans that I rocked back in the day and which I refuse to part with. But I think it’s safe to say that 99% of my denim collection is Les Halles and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

DT: Les Halles—where did this name come from?

R: The literal translation of Les Halles is “the halls”. In the late ’70s the area in Paris called Les Halles was an up-and-coming neighborhood, (similar to the Meat Packing District circa ’98), and since they were launching what would be an up-and-coming brand, they felt that Les Halles was a promising name. Not to mention, that they were very influenced by Parisian fashion.

Many thanks to Remy and the Les Halles! Don’t forget to visit the Les Halles website.

—Jackie Racer & Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Mar 11 2011 in Interviews

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