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(Henry) and Belle of the Ball- An Exclusive Interview

Rob Mann, President of Henry and Belle, had the idea for the denim brand as he watched his wife struggle to find suitable jeans. “My wife isn’t going to be interested in jeans designed for a teenager, but she isn’t going to wear mom jeans either”. Thus, they’ve created ageless jeans that can be worn by anyone who wants to feel both sexy and comfortable at the same time. Denim Therapy had the opportunity to ask Henry and Belle a few questions- read on to see what they had to say:


DT: Who are Henry and Belle? Tell us about your “family” affair?

HB: Henry and Belle were my grandparents. Henry and Belle started designing in the garment district of Chicago in 1931. Inspired by Belle’s confident character and chic sophistication, Henry designed each style with Belle as his as his muse. They always focused on the highest quality fabrics and finishes. As their success grew, so did their commitment to give back to their community. Today our family continues to fulfill this tradition of craftsmanship and humanitarianism.

DT: What kind of fits, washes, styles do you offer?

HB: We offer a variety of fits including a Super Skinny, Straight Leg, and an updated Bootcut. We offer these in two rises: our “Signature” which is a mid-rise, and our “Ideal” which is our lower rise. The ‘Ideal’ rise in not only popular with the younger girl who wants a lower rise, but also with the petite woman. We also have exciting fashion styles which include a slouchy self belted denim cargo, a retro inspired wide leg and a trouser. We take great pride in our washes at Henry & Belle. It is very important that our washes are both innovative, fresh, and always tasteful. We do extensive research and study of vintage denim to achieve authenticity and along with using and working closely with extremely sophisticated laundry facilities, we achieve beautiful washes.

DT: What kind of audience do you cater to?

HB: Because of our range in fit, rise and silhouette offerings, we cater to a broad spectrum of women. The women who tend to buy Henry & Belle understand the importance of quality manufacture and fit. They won’t sacrifice comfort for style or vice versa. The Henry & Belle woman understands trends and isn’t afraid of self expression.

DT: Where do you see the future for Henry and Belle?

HB: Henry & Belle will continue to grow as a lifestyle brand. We have more than nine decades of experience producing a wide range of apparel and that will begin to enter into our design philosophy. We will always be at the cutting edge of the best and newest fabrics but we won’t overlook the importance of staying true to our heritage of producing authentic, trend right clothes.

DT: Any favorite ways to wear denim? Or any favorite ways celebrities have worn your jeans?

HB: As we all know the best thing about denim is its versatility. It has been really exciting to see the variety of ways people have been wearing our jeans. I especially love the way Halle Berry wore our Ideal Super Stretch Skinny in Onyx with her monochromatic layering. She made something so casual (and we know incredibly comfortable!) look so sophisticated and pulled-together.

DT: What differentiates Henry and Belle from other denim brands?

HB: Our continuous offering of new and fresh ideas while having deep roots in the heritage and authenticity of denim. Careful thought and attention is paid to these ideals in the process, and the result is a very real product.

DT: How did you manage to bring a new brand to market given this economy?

HB: Over the years we’ve introduced many new brands. Regardless of the prevailing economic situation, we have looked for niches in the market that haven’t been well served. We felt that the time was right for us to introduce a line that focused on great fitting jeans that would appeal to a wide range of discriminating, practical customers. Our years of sourcing experience enable us to offer a well crafted product in fabrics superior to our competition at more reasonable prices. As we enter a more practical time I believe women have become more discerning and are demanding more from the products they buy than ever before. They are less likely to purchase inferior quality jeans for $300. We offer a better fitting jean, with great style and finish in exceptional fabrics for half that price. The market has responded very favorably to this.

DT: We understand that you help raise awareness and funds for diverse issues – can you elaborate?

HB: Henry & Belle is committed to raising awareness and supporting local needs within our communities. Each season we will collaborate with valued retail partners and local non-profit organizations to raise awareness and funds for unique causes. Since our launch in September of 2010 we have helped raise in excess of $10,000 for Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago, Juvenile Diabetes Research, Autism Speaks, Breakthrough Foundation of New York, and FATE (Foundation for Autism Training and Education).

DT: Do you have any special fabrics or finishes that are your trademark?

HB: All of our fabrics are unique in some sense. Our primary fabric is a blend of Supima cotton and XFit Lycra for 4 way stretch. This fabric stretches in all directions but does not stretch out. The Supima cotton gives our jeans an incredible softness along with greater durability. Women who wear our jeans have commented that the jeans feel like no jeans they’ve ever worn before. Women can literally wear these jeans all day, day after day and they will fit virtually the same way they did when they first went on. We also feature a super stretch fabric in our legging jeans. This fabric has an incredibly comfortable feel while still maintaining its shape. Our super stretch skinny jeans have been seen lately on Halle Berry, Emmy Rossum and Ashley Green. Future collections will include a fine Japanese denim with a beautiful drape and a new fabric called lightweight stretch which features an incredibly soft finish.

DT: What is your design inspiration?

HB: It is always changing as you see, hear, and experience things constantly. However, because we have such strong ties to the past having been manufacturing since the 1930’s, we are always thinking of our muse Belle Mann who started the company with her husband Henry. Whether out to dinner or on the beach she always looked sophisticated, and we think about how she would dress if she were here today.

You can visit the Henry and Belle website to learn more about their brand and of course to shop their styles.

— Jackie Racer

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Posted Jan 19 2011 in Denim News » Interviews
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