PARIS — While denim’s origins lie in workwear for men, from railroad workers to cowboys, the recent strong evolution of women’s premium fashion denim opened up a more colorful, tactile and notably stretch- and fit-obsessed landscape for the category worlds away from its origins.
After all, in the words of Jason Denham, founder of the denim label Denham: “It’s 2011, and we don’t pan for gold or ride horses and chase Indians anymore.”
Though for many in the industry the denim design arena still remains very much a boys’ club, a number of prominent female denim designers, from Superfine’s Lucy Pinter to Victoria Beckham, over the past decade have successfully exerted a feminine sensibility on the category.
Take Paige Adams-Geller, who after years working as a fit model for denim brands decided to launch her own denim line designed by a woman for women.
Six years down the line, her label, Paige Denim, is distributed in 2,000 doors worldwide.
“I have firsthand experience of the female form and have the luxury of testing what we are selling to make sure it fits perfectly,” said the designer. “I was in such a male-dominated industry…I became frustrated with the designers I was working with because I felt I had a unique vision of what denim could be, especially for women,” continued Adams-Geller, who likes to take the roots of denim and use them as a springboard towards fashion.
“We know our bodies better, we know what we want fabrics to feel like next to our skin, we know what trends we are comfortable wearing,” echoed Jennifer Wojinski, who joined Los Angeles-based denim label Habitual as design director in January. “I think [male designers] often assume that we are OK with wearing what they push out as being cool or on trend. The truth is I think [they] often miss key points, like the shape of a front or back rise, the softness of a fabric, the amount of elasticity. I think men often miss tiny details that one would only think about as a woman.”
Here WWD talks denim design with a range of female denim designers.
Title: Co-founder of Superfine, a London-based premium denim label founded in 2003.
Distribution: 350 doors worldwide.
Celebrity following: Kate Moss, Kate Bosworth, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost.
Background: “I was a stylist working in London. Denim has always been my thing. At the time no one made a skinny jean and I was taping boot-legs to look skinny. I decided then to make some.”
Woman’s touch: “Women designers make what they themselves would want to wear. Guys concentrate more on selvedge, etc. I think our denim and stretch fabrics are a really girly way to wear denim. We still manage to keep a bit of an edge, though, which is a good mix. Not too soft but feminine.”
Upcoming projects: “A little exhibition for Browns called ‘Cabinet of Curiosities.’ The first cabinet was at Colette, the next will be in Los Angeles, and we are developing a book of ‘girls in their jeans’ with photographer Jan Welters.”
Spring-summer: “Spring-summer was an androgyny story. ‘Girls will be boys,’ with key light tailoring pieces, a silk and sweat section, all kinds of different pants. What made it a little surprising was the color palette of dirty pinks, vanillas, taupes and pale greens.”