I could happily wear all Rachel Comey all day every day.
How good are those coats?!
JANE: We met when we were editorial assistants at Vogue magazine. About a year after I started at Vogue, we were both promoted to positions as fashion writers, where we worked side-by-side for more than five years covering fashion news and trends.
Cut to about a decade later (!) and we were both working as freelancers, and wanting to do something together that was our own. We saw a miss in the market – no one was talking to women, specifically, about jeans online, in a way that was truly elevated and personal. I grew up in a family that lives and breaths denim (my dad is Ron Herman, and my family’s stores in Los Angeles have sold jeans since the 70s…I spent my infancy sleeping in those stores, and my summers in high-school working in them…denim is a regular topic of conversation at the dinner table in my family; it’s something we discuss casually and intimately). SO, coming from this very personal place of style – and feeling like our jeans are the one thing in our closets that get better with age, and that are steeped in sentiment, and the thing we wear when we’re feeling most like ourselves and that we wear for years and years and years – I went to Florence with the idea for a site about people and their jeans. Everyone has a favorite pair, and in that pair are great stories…you can learn a lot about a person by asking them about their jeans!
FLORENCE: I grew up in Southern California. Jeans were everything. In high school, it had to be Calvin Klein or Levi’s. In college, Marc Jacobs first denim collection. And then I loved covering denim while at Vogue. So, when Jane asked if we could meet to talk about an idea for a site, and then told me over brunch, it was a no brainer.
Plus, there is no end to the amount of denim out there – we saw jeans as mine for content and stories…and a starting point for other creative projects (stay tuned!).
AND, so many of the best jeans in the world are made in Los Angeles. Few people know that, and it’s something we like to talk about at Jean Stories whenever we can.
JANE: Quality. Fit, yes, comfort, yes, a great wash and color, definitely. But more than anything, I want my jeans to last. I don’t want to fall in love with a pair of jeans only to have them fall apart after a year!
FLORENCE: It’s usually color and wash first. A pair of jeans can fit wonderfully, but if I don’t love the wash I won’t wear them.
JANE: Absolutely. I wear jeans, a button-down shirt or a sweater, a jacket, and a flat, almost every day of the year. And my Levi’s orange tab trucker is often close by, too.
FLORENCE: Yes! Jeans and a tee, or jeans and a chambray or white shirt. A blazer or a peacoat. Slip on Vans or low leather boots.
JANE: Our uniforms have become so similar, we’ll text each other in the morning before big meetings to make sure we aren’t wearing looks that are too similar.
JANE: Clean jeans, white button down shirts, menswear flats, a practical carryall (i.e. something I can carry my laptop in), a mix of little gold rings (all of which have some sentimental value), Neutrogena Rapid Repair Moisturizer w/ spf 30 (day), Linda Rodin OIlio Lusso (night), MAC eyeliner in Powersurge, Smythson Soho notebook, iPhone, Levi’s Orange Tab Trucker jacket…and a can-do attitude.
FLORENCE: Mansur Gavriel black tote or LL Bean tote. Mannin gold link stud earrings. Nars Satin lip pencil in Hyde Park. Blue or white jeans (usually loose fit).
JANE: Visiting denim factories, mills, and laundries made me appreciate the amount of work, skill, and technology that goes into making a single pair of jeans. So much of what goes into quality denim and design is still done by hand. From mill to retail, the work that goes into making a pair of jeans is astounding. When people question why jeans cost so much, I’m always thinking – they should cost more!
JANE: I can’t say that I am not guilty of indulging in less-than-top-quality purchases from time to time, but for the most part, mindful consumption, for me, is about investing in things that last. I will spend more on quality products, and wear them until they are threadbare. I am very sentimental about clothes, jeans especially, but everything – sweaters, shoes… – I get attached. The emotional reaction I have is often what convinces me to buy something. It can be love at first sight, or a much slower fall, but it’s always an emotional purchase, first.
FLORENCE: I’m not a huge shopper. I buy what I really like, but I tend to buy less and wear it to death, whether it’s designer or high street. You won’t find things in my closet with the tag still on, or purchases I regret. If I buy it, I wear it!
Anything from the new Simon Miller women’s collection (made in L.A.); Seafarer Circe jeans (made in Italy), Frame’s Le High Straight (made in Los Angeles), and McGuire’s denim skirt (made in L.A.). Any vintage Levi’s (just ordered some old 517s online and I can’t wait to get them; fingers crossed they fit well). Ayr’s Slouchy (made in L.A.). Any of J. Crew’s jeans made with Cone Denim (North Carolina!)
The Row t-shirt | Clare Vivier Simple Tote | Bliss and Mischief Military Jacket | Stan Bitters Ceramic Birdhouse | Radish Moon Illustration | Pamela Love Luna Ring | The Elder Statesman Baja Cashmere Sweater | Simon Miller Lowland Jean
I cannot tell a lie – I am a jean snob. Over the years I’ve worn and sold all types of denim and ended up believing that with denim, you (usually) get what you pay for. My most expensive jeans have almost always lasted the longest (often years!) and fit the best, whereas the more affordable options would immediately start to pill, sag, and lose their shape… At the end of the day, the cost per wear on higher end denim just made those purchases make more sense for me.
BUT. I can finally say that I’ve been reformed. I picked up a pair of $105 Industry Standard black jeans (a staple in my wardrobe) over the summer and can’t seem to take them off. The material is lightweight; I was initially concerned that they would quickly start to sag or pill… but they didn’t. They also haven’t faded or gotten those weird streaks black jeans sometimes get after washing. They fit well (without tailoring!) and are comfortable. I’ve even gotten compliments while wearing them, something that never happened when I was wearing my other black jeans that cost twice as much! There will always be room in my wardrobe for selvage and distressed denim options, but when it comes to the classic skinny, I’m sticking with Industry Standard going forward.
The secret? The brilliant founder, Nicole Najafi. An economics major who previously worked for Balenciaga, Nicole was motivated to create the best jeans for a realistic price. She has built an incredible, inspirational model that I think could change the way a lot of brands think about manufacturing and retail for all products… I know she’s got more amazing ideas in the pipeline, and I can’t wait to see what is next! Read on for more from Nicole!
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I previously worked in e-commerce for Balenciaga. I managed online sales and visual merchandising for the site. In that role I learned about the importance of customer experience and making everything personal… no one wants to feel as if she is shopping with a robot.
WHAT LED TO THE LAUNCH OF INDUSTRY STANDARD?
I could find jeans that were well made, lasted, and under $250. I was an economics major and saw this as a challenge – I wanted to understand why the industry worked this way!
Once I started, I learned that the best domestic manufacturers have huge minimums and are hard to get in to, they won’t work with most people. I networked and talked to everyone in LA and finally met a manufacturing partner who understood my goals – making the best jeans at a realistic price. By partnering with the manufacturer to build the business, we can price products as if we owned our own factory, even though we are a very small, new business, and still have our denim made by one of the best denim manufacturers.
I worked on the business for over a year before launching on April 29th, 2014.
WHAT MAKES YOUR DAY?
Repeat customers! It means we are doing something right. Whenever I see a repeat order come through, I yell YES! I also recently received an order from a magazine editor – that was a really exciting milestone. I’m still the person managing the email and shipping process and it’s so fun to see these orders come through.
LIKE EVERLANE, YOU ARE ABLE TO MAINTAIN A REALISTIC PRICE BY SELLING DIRECT TO YOUR CONSUMER. WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO DO THAT?
I’m very focused on personalization… selling direct to my customers not only allows me the ability to provide a better retail price but it also allows me to control the experience. I’d never want to lose the personal aspect of Industry Standard.
WHO DO YOU DESIGN FOR?
ANY girl who loves jeans and loves a well made product. The jeans were designed to look good on everyone.
WHAT ARE YOUR STYLE ESSENTIALS?
I wear a uniform. In the summer it’s jeans and a tee, in the fall and spring jeans and a blouse, and in the winter jeans and a sweater. I always wear flats, never heels.
There is something about ripped jeans that always draws me in, which can explain the fact that I have more distressed denim than not these days. I consider it a classic, but given the current trend status, not all distressing is alike: some fairly expensive ripped jeans have only lasted for a season while others have lasted for years. Now I look for brands that are thoughtful in their approach to distressing and clearly know what they are doing. NSF denim is, in my opinion, the best distressed denim (and super soft tees) out there. The quality is incredible – my jeans and burn out tees have lasted through countless washings and still look as good as they day I bought them. After speaking with Creative Director, Jamie Haller, it is clear that the brand’s design process and hands on approach to manufacturing is what sets NSF apart. Read on for more from Jamie!
NSF is a lifestyle oriented brand. We try to make clothes that address your whole life… you can wear them for all of the things you do throughout the day. Our clothes are casual enough and hip enough that they fit almost any daily activity.
The company was founded 8 years ago and we launched women’s denim, knits, and wovens in 2012.
I’m the creative director and designer of NSF. I’ve been with NSF for 4 years and previously launched the women’s line at Ever and designed for several large retailers. I’ve spent the last 8 years of my career focused on forward, casual contemporary collections.
We want to produce the things we are personally excited about, that we would want to wear. We start the line with what we think is rad each season; if we don’t like it, it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it. We have a pretty simple point of view, and focus on creative laundry and wash house techniques and tactile materials.
I design products that I have an emotional reaction to. You want to put our stuff on because it’s so soft to touch… that’s different than a typical basics line.
For me, it’s comfort. I want to be comfortable and I want the wash to look great. I love the way that denim washes down and am always looking for very old vintage washes.
Baggy jeans, I’m usually dressed in what we are working on for the next season and can’t stop wearing the pair we have coming out for Spring 15. Straight leg jeans – the Owen in the Mendocino wash is the epitome of fall to me. Painter sweatshirts – we used a great oil wash. Ripped and torn slub tees – they are shredded but wearable, and washable! We shred them in a way that the holes will only grow a little. Destroyed buffalo plaid shirts.
We like to have our hands in the production at all times. We work with the people that make our product all day everyday – you can’t do that if you produce overseas. There’s a specific look that we can achieve here that we can’t achieve anywhere else – our look is on-the-go, haphazard, and understated and lived in and we are able to achieve that here.
We use very authentic vintage inspired denim washing techniques – it is a premium process. We try to make each wash authentic, we want our jeans to look different. 90% of jeans look the same, we are trying to break out of that.