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.