There is nothing worse to me than trying on bathing suits, except maybe trying on jeans. Somehow I always end up feeling inadequate... Then again, nothing makes me feel as confident and amazing as finding that perfect pair of jeans, which makes me look thin in all the right places, and round in all the right places. Hence in my mind, jean manufacturers can make or break my day. And I loved speaking with once such all-powerful person, Nicole Najafi, creator of Industry Standard.
She shares her story, and her tips on jeans, below.
How did you get started?
"My first foray into e-commerce was at Lanvin in Paris. I was an assistant retail buyer, where I helped with the buying for the Lanvin boutiques worldwide. During my time there, the company launched e-commerce, and I was assigned to assist with the launch. I absolutely loved it. When I moved to New York, I began working at Balenciaga America, where I managed their U.S. e-commerce. It was at this job that I was able to learn the full range of responsibilities involved in running an e-commerce business and also where I had the idea for Industry Standard."
Why did you want to be a part of the fashion industry?
"I wanted to work in fashion for as long as I can remember--well, since I became old enough to relinquish my dream of becoming a secret agent. I remember being so in love with Calvin Klein's ads that I would rip them out of every magazine I saw and stash them in my room (my mom loved that!). There was something so beautiful in their simplicity. I find fashion to be so empowering and I think my first taste of it as a young adult empowered me."
Tell me about the made in USA thing - and how it is important to you.
"My background is almost entirely in high-fashion, and I became accustomed to working with products made with the utmost care and quality, as well as transparency in production. I didn't want my jeans to be made in a place where I would have little visibility over the production. While there are several great denim-making capitals around the world, Los Angeles has a unique history with denim. The denim manufacturing industry in LA is so conditioned to working with high-end denim that it has the perfect infrastructure for it. Not to mention, the denim industry in LA employs a ton of people! And I want to contribute to that, not take away from it by producing overseas."
Do you design all items your brand launches?
"I do, along with my manufacturing partner who works on the more technical aspects of the design process. He is a genius and has such incredible experience with denim. I'm really lucky to work with him."
What are the current trends in denim?
"Editorially, I've been seeing a lot of super-wide leg, fringe, embellishment, distressing, and patchwork, which is super interesting and I love that denim is becoming such a fashion category of its own. While I love a trend, Industry Standard is more about denim staples--I want our customer to be able to come to us and find a classic jean that she can wear everyday and that will stand the test of time both in terms of quality and style."
"I think colored jeans in general are always on trend, but there are definitely certain colors that have their moments. There was a fall when oxblood was the color for jeans, a spring when red ruled, and we all remember when neon was everything. I actually think white might be the denim "color" of the moment, if it counts as a color!"
Things to look for in a pair of jeans
"Style, quality, fit, versatility, and last but certainly not least, how you feel in them. When girls try on my jeans, the first question I ask them is, "how do you feel?""
Your "don'ts" in terms of jeans
"I generally don't believe in don'ts (ha! get it?). I think almost anything can look cool as long as it's worn with confidence. To each her own!"
What about jean jackets? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? What color? Sleeves or not?
"Thumbs up! Always. Right now, I'm loving the look of a light denim jacket with the sleeves scrunched up."
Jean skirts - mine always ride up when I walk - I can't be the only person this is happening to. Thoughts? Tips?
"Ha, you are definitely not the only one! But I think it might happen less with higher-waisted denim skirts. I also think it has something to do with the proportion of one's waist to hips--if you have straighter/narrower hips relative to your waist, it could cause your denim skirt to ride up. My dad makes wearable technology, so I will see if he can whip something up to solve this for you!"
Jean shorts - frayed or not? High waisted or not?
"Personally, I prefer a non-distressed, high-waisted jean short. Throw in a pleat and it's my dream jean short! But distressed jean shorts are perennially cool. I think they work for city living as long as they aren't too short--those belong at the beach."
What to pair with denim?
"Anything! That's one of the greatest things about denim, it's so versatile. My uniform is a button-down, jeans and flats. Right now, I'm loving the look of a slightly rolled-up jean and white Vans. I love that Vans are making a comeback! And I'm never afraid to rock a Canadian tuxedo--denim on denim, as long as the denims aren't the exact same wash. It's a classic!"