These jeans feature Georgia-grown cotton, Cone White Oak denim milled in North Carolina, YKK buttons, rivets and zippers forged in Kentucky, and a full production executed in LA using an eco-friendly ozone laundry process. Both men’s and women’s styles will be available exclusively online. The retail price? Less than $100.
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 time we talked Agave Denim we were giving away two gorgeous pairs of jeans to two lucky readers—but the truth is, whether you win them, buy them, or otherwise miraculously acquire them, owning a pair of Agave Denim Jeans is an experience not to be missed. Designed by husband and wife team Jeff and Lauren Shafer, the brand has what you want: comfortable, chic, luxurious, eco-friendly, on-trend pieces that fit great and go with everything in your closet. We had a chance to stop by the showroom to discuss the fall and holiday collections, as well as get a quick sneak peek at spring 2012!
The fall 2011 line is Lauren Shafer’s first full spectrum collection after her stay-at-home-mom hiatus. A total fit fanatic and a skilled pattern maker, she made all of her own first samples this season—talk about hands on! She chose to work only with hand-picked luxury fabrics, creating a line with 17 different fits of jeans, jeggings, and trousers in both indigo and novelty fabrics, including a gorgeous indigo cord as an alternative to fall denim. Key new fall fits include the “Listo” and “Fortuna” slim fit and higher rise trouser and the Fusta riding jegging (which you see a detail shot above). To pair with these pieces, she designed both fashion and basic knit sweaters in Supima cotton and other cotton blends, as well as some killer leather jackets.
More points for Agave? They also offer dark denim in super soft, stretch fabrics that use less water in the wash process through an “Ozone washing”. Check out the full fall 2011 lookbook for women below!
In the men’s line, the focus continues on fabric and fit—most fabrics employ 98/2% cotton/elastane to give comfort but retain shape. Jeff Shafer considers designing an art and works similarly with strictly hand-picked fabrics from boutique mills in Japan, Italy, and the US. He created new finishes and vintage-esque washes in a variety of fits, expanding also into a broad range of super wearable luxury Supima cotton knits and t-shirts, as well as leather jackets and some covetable merino wool sweaters. One of his favorite styles in the fall line are vintage black and colored yarndye denim in muted Autumn hues.
Agave Gold Label also offers limited edition selvage jeans, numbered and signed. This season, it’s the “1930’s rinse” selvage from Cone White Oak, which has the look (but not the feel) of raw denim. Check out the full fall 2011 lookbook for men below!
Finally, we were treated to a preview of the spring line, which included lots of gorgeous colors taken from the landscape of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez (more on that later), applied to fresh fits and looks we can’t wait to wear. Stay tuned on this one, denim-heads—we’ll show you the mood boards the designers created to inspire this spring collection!
Check out our snaps from the showroom of the fall/holiday 2011 and spring 2012 lines below, and check out Agave Denim online to shop the fall collection now!
Showroom photos by Raffael Flores-Contreras.
—Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: agave denim, Fall 2011, holiday 2011, jeff shafer, lauren shafer, mens denim, showroom, spring 2012 preview, stretch cord denim, womens denim
“Home is where the heart is” certainly holds true for husband & wife design duo Jeff and Lauren Shafer of Agave Denim. They started their business ten years ago and have continued to grow together, with everything from design to distribution based at “home”. They offer styles for both men and women worked by master tailors. They obsess over button fly closures, vegetable indigo dye, selvage edges, heavy pocket bags, and hidden rivets. Their distressing process is chemical free. They’re pretty easy to love, if you ask us. We had the opportunity to to speak with Agave Denim, and this is what they had to share…
Denim Therapy: Let’s start from the beginning. What inspired you to get this brand off the ground?
Agave: There are two parts to my answer; part is personal and part is business.
Business: Back in 2001, I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of jeans being produced in the USA. I grew up in So Cal in the late 1960’s & 70’s; surfing, skiing, racing motorcycles and making pottery while wearing old school American-made red line Levi’s and tees. They were awesome. To me, nothing is better than a great pair of jeans and the perfect tee. Ten years ago, the good jeans came from Japan, Italy and Holland. There were a few good brands made in the USA but not many.
Agave started with the mission to make the finest denim jeans authentically in California. Since then and continuing today, I am obsessed with making the finest jeans and tee shirts available, all made here in the USA.
Personal: In 1992, I founded BC Ethic, a young men’s/street wear line that was vintage inspired. I was the designer for the first four years. As we grew, I turned over the design function and settled in as CEO. In 2001, I sold the company and wanted to start over. I realized that I enjoyed designing much more than managing, and hoped that if I could replicate the design success of my early days at BC Ethic, I would be very happy.
I love my life now.
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?
Agave: In order to succeed you have to bring something different or unique to the party. A point of view if you will. In some ways, every brand carried in a store is competing for the same shelf space. It’s the designer job to give the consumer something that they don’t already have. Something they didn’t know they wanted until they see it and feel it. At retail, we sit with brands like AG, Rag & Bone, Ever, Paige, Citizens of Humanity, Current Elliot, Hugo Boss Orange, Mason’s, Stone Island, J Brand and Earnest Sewn. We also have a knitwear range that hangs with Three Dots, Velvet, CP Company, John Varvatos.
We started in 2002 making men’s jeans. A few years later we heard about women wearing our product so we launched our women’s collection. In 2010, my wife Lauren Shafer returned to the industry as the designer of Agave’s women’s collection. Lauren is also a sewer and a pattern maker. She is obsessed with fit, drape and shapes. She has transformed the women’s collection and has given it its own identity.
Both Lauren and I are driven to create and design when we find great fabrics. We only use the finest fibers that make the best fabrics including denim from boutique mills in Japan and Italy and Supima cotton from California.
DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals ?
Agave: We do two things. First, we research of an amazing place we would like to travel to and visit that would provide an inspiration for the collection. Then, we do a comprehensive search of all the best mills around the world looking for something new and fresh. That often means looking at hundreds of fabrics.
DT: Describe the person who represents your ideal target customer—the customer you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.
Agave: Our ideal customers are 25 to 45 years old, intelligent, stylish, independent and creative. They are more focused on style than fashion, more focused on quality than quantity, more interested in sensuality than sexuality, and very interested in feeling good. Their individual style is effortless. The feel, fit and quality are what’s important to them. We call it “effortlessly cool, elegantly sexy”.
DT: Can you give us hint about what’s next for Fall/Winter?
Agave: Beautiful luxury fabrics like corduroy and velvet in addition to clean dark finishes on denim for women. For men, Vintage American work-wear shapes made with luxury fabrics with an emphasis on tailoring.
DT: What would be your dream collaboration? Any plans of that in the future?
Agave: Malcolm McLaren , Steve McQueen, and Brunello Cucinelli
DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites, and how would you style them?
Agave: We have a lot of fit and finishes in the collection.
I love denim and can’t help myself in offering a wide range of denim constructions (2×1, 3×1, 4×1, broken twill and sateen.) We also offer a lot of rigid and stretch for men and super stretch for women. I personally love the Purist (a classic straight, button fly) in vegetable dye indigo selvage and wear it daily. In women’s our best fits are Paraiso (slim skinny), Paloma (classic skinny) and Vaquera (slim flare). Our best selling washes are Sea Cliff and Santa Cruz, both are Japanese and feature a cotton, polyester and rayon blend.
DT: Do you have any favorite/least favorite denim trends right now?
Agave: My favorite men’s trend is vintage work-wear. My favorite women’s trend is incorporating new fibers, like rayon and tencel into the fabric to make it even more beautiful and give it its luxury feel.
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?
Agave: This development is wonderful as it represents the democratization of the fashion industry.
DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?
Agave: Several hundred. I spent 1992 to 2001 building a vintage denim collection mostly scavenging through the Pasadena Swap Meet and cool vintage clothing stores everywhere I went.
DT: Favorite celeb wearing your brand?
Agave: Liam Neeson and Jessica Biel. You can check out their Facebook Page to “like” them as much as we do! Here is a peek into the men’s and women’s spring 11 lookbook
Tags: agave denim, interview, jeff shafer, lauren shafer, q&a