What if someone took the Greatest Hits from every denim brand you love, standardized the fits so that all rises were created equal (high or mid, with nothing funny in between), and put them together on one easy-to-shop e-commerce site? Sounds like a dream, right? Well, that’s exactly what Shopbop has done with their new Principle collection, launching today. Your dream – and ours! – just came true.
To make the Principle, senior buyer Alana Goldsmith Brown and market editor Kate Johanson asked 13 jean makers to each create a top-selling style using all the same measurements and standards of fit. So, Current/Elliott did a boyfriend with the same mid rise as the pencil-leg that Rag & Bone produced – 9.8″ to be exact; high-rise styles, from AG and 3×1, hit one inch higher than that. What’s more, Alana and Kate had two of the participating designers, Paige and MiH, make their bells and boot cuts in petite sizing, so that women who are shorter (like moi) can get the full flare experience (no alterations needed! All proportions correct!). The system, exclusive to Shopbop, takes a huge amount of error out of buying jeans online, something that can be very tricky, indeed.
This why-didn’t-we-think-of-that idea for a denim collection is something Alana, who has been the denim buyer at Shopbop for ten years, fine tuned with the help of both Kate, whose job is to see everything that’s out there in fashion and advise Alana on how to stock Shopbop accordingly, and her customers directly. “There’s so much to talk about when it comes to denim,” she told me at headquarters in New York, where she tested MiH’s petite super flare, and then the high rise crop micro flare from 3×1. “This curation tells a different story, one that’s really ours.” And, it’s one that’s a breeze to buy online. Go on, check out the 12 denim styles – and the vegan leather legging from Blank – and try it!
Which fit are you most excited to wear right now?
Alana: I am loving a cropped silhouette, which we’re seeing everywhere, from wide-legs to skinnies.
Kate: Cropped wide legs. The Principle paper-bag trouser from Frame is everything I need to hit the trend. It’s a little borrowed-from-the-boys with the pleated front, but it feels cool and feminine with the cinched waist and light cotton fabric.
Alana, What is the most important thing you look for or feel when buying jeans for Shopbop?
The Shopbop girl is always ready for what’s new, and so I’m constantly on the lookout for anything that feels fresh in denim. In general, I try not to repeat washes within a brand, so there’s more variety. And I love distressed styles that look authentic, as if they were worn with love over time. I love it when I get emotional about clothes. That’s the best. I want to love everything that I put on the site!
What would you tell women is the most important thing to look for or feel when buying a pair of jeans?
Alana: Find a fit that is both flattering and comfortable, because if it checks both boxes, you’re guaranteed to love it. When buying jeans for myself, I try to think about three different outfits I would wear with the jeans before making my purchase.
Kate: Comfort. No matter what! should take my own advice on this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the house in a pair of ill-fitting jeans and spent the whole day fidgeting, which is never cute. If the denim is too stiff, too stretchy, or too high maintenance, you’re going to look as uncomfortable as you feel.
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What’s the biggest challenge women face when buying jeans today?
Alana: There is so much to choose from! The variety is exciting, but it can be overwhelming. I like to say, Find a fit you feel most confident in, and then branch out with that fit through washes.
Kate: Discovering your favorite style is kind of like finding the needle in a haystack. It’s worth it to try a number of styles and silhouettes, and figure out what actually works best for your personal style and body type.
How do you address and alleviate that challenge at Shopbop, specifically?
Alana: We balance the size of our assortment with tools that can help you find the perfect style for you. One is our denim boutique, which is pre-organized by key trends – from flares to overalls. We also like to demystify trends with editorial features that show the newest styles and how to wear them.
Kate: With the Principle collection. It’s kind of like a Greatest Hits of Denim. Plus, we have a denim boutique that you can shop by trend, silhouette, wash, you name it.
What have you learned from your customers – and how do those teachings show up in the Principle collection?
Alana: From direct customer feedback to shopping patterns, we see how women shop for denim, and we wanted to take that and curate a denim assortment that responds to her wardrobe needs. With the Principle Collection, we partnered with leading brands to highlight top styles and tweaked everything from rises to inseams to fabric choices, to create the Shopbop girl’s dream denim wardrobe.
Kate: Our shoppers are really loyal to the brands they love and they consistently come back for the latest offerings. The Principle allows them to branch out and try out new, perfected styles while sticking with the lines they’re most comfortable in.
What the best advice you ever got about how to wear denim?
Alana: On my first market appointment 10 years ago, someone told me that no one can tell if you wash your jeans or not, and it’s so true. Don’t ask, don’t tell!
Kate: Same! An editor once told me that it’s OK to wear your jeans two days in a row. I used to toss my jeans in the laundry after one wear and they would never last for very long. Now it’s rare if they get washed more than once a month. They’re like coats in that sense.
Stretch or no stretch?
Alana: I love a good rigid pair.
Kate: No stretch.
Dark wash or light?
Distressed or clean?
Mid-rise or high-rise?
Alana: A high-rise black ankle skinny. Those who know me would say it’s my uniform.
Kate: I live in my high-waisted skinnies. They’re comfortable and unfailingly flattering.
Last question, very important: What comes first, the jean or the shoe?
Alana: The jean, of course.
Kate: The jean, but shoe can seriously make or break your choice of denim.