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 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
Last week we introduced you to Kasil Denim’s super-wearable SS’11 line, and today we have a one-on-one with designer David Lim to find out what goes on behind the Kasil curtain. Find out how this designer compares denim to cooking ingredients, and what his favorite looks are in the collection.
Image via Serial Thrifter.
Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning. What inspired you to get this brand off the ground?
David Lim: This can get long but the short story is… It started out of my father’s Custom Tailoring business. Making custom jeans for Pro-athletes like Kobe and Rick Fox and many others. The love was being able to provide premium jeans to guys that could afford premium but couldn’t necessarily find any that fit… which eventually transpired into launching KASIL in 2002 for women and 2006 for men. I’ve learned a great deal from my father and he has been my biggest influence as to why I’m doing this.
DT: How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?
DL: It really is like comparing two spaghetti dishes by 2 different cooks. Cook 1 may use the exact same ingredients as I do, but the difference may be that Cook 2 could use better quality ingredients and put more time into the process. All in all, the premium denim world all claim to have the best fit, use the best fabric and have the best finishes which should all be true.
It’s all about what we stand for and how we present ourselves to the world, we love what we do and we make great jeans. Behind the curtains i’m sure we all work our asses off trying to make the best collection season after season.
DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?
DL: Get the coffee started, get the music going, and a room just to myself with my sketch pad and laptop.
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Tags: david lim, denim designer, design process, Exclusive, interview, kasil denim, q&a