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Q&A With OPENMARKET Menswear Denim Brand’s Kevin Chen

The guys in our office recently became fans of the menswear denim brand OPENMARKET and reviewed a pair of red skinny jeans and dirty-mint skinny jeans accordingly. Launched by designer Kevin Chen, OPENMARKET is all produced, manufactured and designed in LA. We had a chance to ask Kevin some questions and get the behind-the-scenes on what makes this brand unique.

Denim Therapy: Let’s start from the beginning. What inspired you to get this brand off the ground?

Kevin Chen: I’ve always been inspired with all things old and new and I think a lot of that has to do with my affinity with flea markets (like Rose Bowl. It has a lot to do with rediscovering old ideas, and seeing if we can reinvent them. It’s from these experiences coupled with my creative design instincts that I felt I wanted to create a brand  that could facilitate old ideas into modern ones. That is the premise of OPENMARKET: a collection that puts new meaning to MODERN work wear.

DT: How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?

KC: We pride ourselves upon the fact that OPENMARKET is 100% made in USA, and not only does the collection comprise of our signature 6-pocket denim jeans, it also includes our uniquely oil-stained carpenters, henleys, Tees, chunky-knit sweaters, leather jackets, blazers, denim jackets, hooded/non-hooded sweatshirts in a multitude of fabrics.

All designs reflect a deconstructed approach to vintage work wear, re-engineered with a modern appeal. We like to believe that we extend beyond the traditional denim line, because our collection is multi-dimensional and offers many essential items. Even our denim is done in a non-traditional way (details like the 6-pocket design set them apart).

DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?

KC: I’m not sure if it would be called a “ritual”, but I do often research trends by people watching and make a mental note of what they’re wearing. From there I meet with my team and we search for vintage garments (often times at flea markets) that possess old work wear details, good for merging with unique and unexpected fabric.

It’s important to me that my designs are timeless and as the brand grows with each season, I want to add new silhouettes and colors that are modified from the original concept.

DT: Describe your ideal target customer.

KC: Our ideal target customer is a self-assured, confident, cultured, and well-composed man. He is artistic, athletic, and is that guy that is admired by his peers.  Not only does he have a good job, but he’s a humanitarian that actively participates in charitable causes. During his free time, he enjoys quality dining but can sensibly appreciate hole in the wall restaurants. He goes by the philosophy of working hard, and playing harder.

DT: What would be your dream collaboration?

KC: In the future, I would like to collaborate with a great footwear company. I want OPENMARKET to have a diverse product line that will dress someone from head to toe.

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

KC: A few of my favorite pieces is the K8-Grey Herring Carpenter pants, O3-Dk Indigo Raw Blazer, O4-Burgandy Leather Moto Jacket, and our ultra plush O6-Black Alpaca Wool cardigan sweater. I like pairing my bottoms with blazers for a more dressed up look, and when I’m doing a casual look, I like wearing it with a basic t-shirt accompanied with some loafers.

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

KC: I like that trends are leaning towards a cleaner cut with simpler details. What use to be a market full of logo-centric designs has taken a more subtle approach. However, I do think that in the men’s market, bright and vivid colors will be on the rise. Men today seem to be open to colors. I think it has to do with wanting to diversify their wardrobes and express themselves.

I remember when wearing “pink” signified a man as being more fashion forward, but I do believe times have changed, and colors will be very inspirational. I also think that there will be a transition in their wardrobes as they begin to seek non-denim jeans… or should I say the look and feel of denim, but constructed with non-traditional fabrics.

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?

KC: I take into account what is happening on the streets. There are a lot of distinct styles that I have seen in “streetwear” and I think it embodies a sense of “coolness” to it. When you look at the OPENMARKET collection, I’m sure you can see a lot of elements that are traditional yet modern, as well as street edgy. It’s important to keep in mind that street styles range from the inexpensive & chic to the lux & exclusive. The OPENMARKET collection will definitely encompass all these elements.

DT: How many pairs of jeans do you own?

KC: I own way too many jeans and too many that I call my favorite. But I’m going to be honest, my two most favorite pairs right now is OPENMARKET K1-6 pocket jeans in Dark Orange, and the K8 Carpenter pant! These two pairs have been on serious rotation for me. Both great washes with amazing fit!

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

KC: Denim tops with non denim bottoms, and of course, a lot of colors.

Keep up with OPENMARKET online!

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Apr 02 2012 in Denim News » Interviews

Raffa Reviews OPENMARKET Men’s Straight Leg Green Jeans

Last week we showed you Eric’s take on his red straight-leg OPENMARKET jeans, and this week it’s Raffael’s turn. Self-proclaimed denimist, this are his first pair of men’s colored jeans.  He opted for a pair in “dirty mint” wash (which is more on the pastel side of olive green). His reactions are below.


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What was your first thought when you tried them on?

Smooth denim and nice fit! I also like the pocket shape and clean finishing. The pocket is actually double (an inset pocket with a patch pocket sewn on top, but it’s not bulky). The top stitching in red is a nice touch.

Where/when would you wear these?

Since spring is around the corner, I’m thinking I’ll be wearing these all the time! To picnics, the beach, the park, around Brooklyn. They’re comfortable, I could wear them pretty much anywhere.

How’s the fit?

I like the way fits me on the waist and the legs. I’ll use our tailoring service to taper them a bit, so the cuff looks more clean (I always cuff my jeans). Speaking of which, the white merrow stitch on the green denim that’s exposed when I cuff them is cool too.


Love these jeans? Check out OPENMARKET!

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Mar 19 2012 in Denim Fashion » Reviews: Product

Eric Reviews OPENMARKET Men’s Straight Leg Red Jeans

DT’s Eric recently pulled on his first pair of OPENMARKET jeans (the K1 tailored straight leg jean in red), and he’s here to tell you all about it. OPENMARKET is an LA-based men’s denim and knit basics brand—we showed you their rugged lookbook last week. Eric had been searching for a pair of red jeans for a while, and now that he has himself a pair, he’ll tell you what he thinks.


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What was your first thought when you tried them on?

They seriously kick ass. These are my first pair of jeans that aren’t black, blue or gray… so I was extremely excited to get them.

Within an hour of wearing them, I received compliments from customers who demanded to know where I got these awesome jeans. I’ll never forget the day I got them- it was a Friday. On the way to the bar, after work, people couldn’t help but stare at them as I passed by on the sidewalk. It didn’t stop there. Everyone at the bar was asking about my awesome new pair of red jeans.

Where/when would you wear these?

I will probably wear these all the time. They are surprisingly versatile forsuch a bold color and they go really well with my favorite blue sweater. I wore themto the bar, the beer garden and some non-alcoholic venues like work. They are sharp looking for a night out and comfortable enough to just wear around the house.

How’s the fit?

I’m 6’6 and pretty tough to please when it comes to size and fit, but these jeans look and feel amazing. They are a slim fit, but they don’t feel tight. I really don’t think I’ve ever had a pair of jeans that fit so ideally on my stature.

One of the best things about the jeans are the back pockets: the intricate detail in the stitching catches the eye and let’s you know that these are quality. I now know the joy of having red jeans, and look forward to adding more color to my wardrobe!

Stay tuned for Raffa’s review of his OPENMARKET jeans in dirty mint.

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Mar 16 2012 in Denim Fashion » Denim Menswear » Reviews: Product

OPENMARKET Offers Men’s Colored Denim & Basic Knits For Spring

If the concept of colored denim for dudes seems sissy to you, OPENMARKET is here to convince you otherwise. They have succeded in taking hues like mint green and banana yellow and turning them all-out rugged, styled with basics  like long-sleeve tees and work boots.  One look at their lookbook suggests all matter of manly chores are easily executed in their clothing, whether you’re climbing ladders and hauling tools or trying to get some work done while a topless model attempts to distract you. Admirable. They’re also offering a range of solid classic dark-wash denim and a wide array of knitwear in spring/summer colors every guy should have a few of. Garden rake not included.


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Stay tuned, the men of DT are going to review the heck out of these jeans!

—Michelle Christina Larsen

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Posted Mar 06 2012 in Denim Fashion » Lookbooks
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