Flashback: The Best of 2015

Returning from the shows in Paris this past October, I remember feeling two things – excitement about what’s to come (the denim in the spring 2016 collections is significant and stellar!), and awe for all of the editors, stylists, designers, and artists who put on jeans to do their jobs that week. Everywhere I looked, I saw blue worn in ways that were expressive, personal, and new.

When I got back to New York I hosted a discussion at Coterie, New York’s premiere trade show for clothing brands and buyers, about the future of denim. The concern shared by many members of the audience was that jeans might be over – now second fiddle to functional, fashionable activewear. Well, if that’s the case, I argued, then why was every best-dressed woman I know, from Sarah Harris to Chioma Nnadi and Julia Sarr Jamois, just wearing them in Paris? And why did so many designers show them, too?

A look back at all of the stories we’ve told on the site this year is further proof of denim’s important place in our lives and looks. In 2015, our subjects showed us what infinite ways there are to wear jeans, and you, fellow denimheads, showed us what an insatiable appetite there is for anything indigo-related. We were never bored!

BEST OF 2015
1P0A0693Clockwise from top left: Elle‘s Samira Nasr in her favorite 501s, William Okpo designer Lizzy Okpo in the pair she scored at Canal Jeans Co. in New York, artist Rebecca Dayan, and Sophie Buhai in her belled Movin’ Ons.

Vintage Levi’s were the jeans of choice among so many of the women we photographed (again!). But not just 501s. Elle‘s Samira Nasr wore her favorite Orange Tab 517s – a bell style with a long rise and zipper fly – and jewelry designer Sophie Buhai pulled out something I’d never seen: Levi’s Movin’ On jeans from the 70s; totally groovy and, with Manolo Blahnik slingbacks, utterly great.

As fun as meeting women who wear great jeans was getting to meet women who make great jeans. Parisian designer and fashion-girl favorite Isabel Marant, who prefers pairs that are “grey and white-ish” in color, sat down with us in her Soho store; she was warm, funny, and so clear about what jeans mean in her collection. Misty Zollars and Kelly Urban, who introduced AMO this year, killing it with the Twist, Babe, and Tomboy styles, gave us a tour of their at-home L.A. office (they’ve since grown into their own official headquarters – cheers, friends!). And, we visited the legendary New York designer Norma Kamali, who took us through her decades in denim and inspired me, personally, to do as she has done and take greater risks in business and life. Norma, you rule.

BEST OF 2015
From left: Designer Isabel Marant, AMO’s Misty Zollars and Kelly Urban, and Norma Kamali.

Then there was Erin Hogan-Braker, the Brooklyn-based seamstress extraordinnaire behind 7th Bone Tailoring, who can make (almost) any jean fit. Bring her your awkward vintage pairs, your extra-long legs, your too-wide waists, and she’ll alter them in ways that won’t compromise the denims’ wash, wear patterns, and weathering. Her story is full of useful tips: “The most important thing I look for in a high-rise jean is a thick fabric with minimal stretch. If the fabric is too thin and stretches, the jeans will not stay on the waist, even after altering them.” Discovering Erin was a game-changer for us!

Erin Hogan-BrakerErin Hogan-Braker, the seamstress behind 7th Bone Tailoring, can whip any pair of jeans into perfect shape.

We were lucky to meet some of the men who make some of the world’s best, too – François Girbaud, the original denim-rebel who invented stone washing and holds guru status among the indigo-obsessed, is now collaborating with the Los Angeles fashion company Co. As always, his designs are original and unprecedented; it was such an honor to have him on the site.

BEST OF 2015
From left: Artist and designer Maxwell Snow, denim guru François Girbaud, who collaborated with the L.A. brand Co. on a capsule of denim pieces, and Prps’s Donwan Harrell.

Sitting on opposite ends of the spectrum were the artist and designer Maxwell Snow, who showed us his version of cool, blank-canvas black denim, and Prps’s Donwan Harrell, who, through masterful and elaborate wash techniques and treatments, turns jeans into what some consider works of art. Both designers reminded us of how infinite denim’s capabilities really are.

It matters what we do in our jeans! This year, skater and photographer Sierra Prescott kick-flipped in Madewells, Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim toured the Tuileries in patched-up Lees, the florist Lisa Pryzstup prepped for Valentine’s Day in Levi’s, and the actress Erin Foster took a bath in J Brand. Looks fun, right?! It really was.

BEST OF 2015
Erin FosterClockwise from top leftSierra Prescott in the L.A. river, Olivia Kim in the Tuileries in Paris, Lisa Pryzstup in her workshop, and Erin Foster in her bathtub.

At Jean Stories we like to say that there is no right or wrong fit, only the fit that fits you best. Turns out, wide legs fit many of the amazing and accomplished women we met. Lisa Story, the L.A. makeup artist, pulled out a pair of Earnest Sewns she’s had for ten years; they’ve held up beautifully, no (see below)? The actress Hayley Gates had on sexy, 70s-style Hang Tens when we photographed her at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. And Marie Claire‘s editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider wore J Brand’s Vanessa boot cut at the office, showing us precisely how to wear denim to work. “Whether you’re looking for a new pair of jeans or a new little black dress, it’s important to choose things that make you feel like your favorite version of yourself,” Anne told us. “That’s not to say we all don’t need to stray from our comfort zones once in a while. Have fun. Experiment. Be daring…but at the end of the day you should recognize the person in the mirror.” We really can’t stress this sentiment enough.

Best of 2015From left: Makeup artist Lisa Storey in old Earnest Sewns, actress Hayley Benton Gates in vintage Hang Tens, and Marie Claire‘s Anne Fulewider in brand-new J Brands.

Another hit this year: the one-piece. Jesse Randall, the accessories designer behind Loeffler Randall, picked a pin-striped pair of overalls from Forever21 to wear for her shoot – “I have no patience for anything that isn’t completely comfortable and easy to wear,” she confessed – while the artist Tasya Van Ree wore JC Penny Big Macs.  “Whenever I wear them something transformational happens,” she told us. “They reveal something new to me every time, whether in my daily life or through my art.”

BEST OF 2015From left: Accessories deisgner Jesse Randall in Forever21 overalls, artist Tasya Van Ree in vintage Big Macs, and Vogue.com’s Sally Singer in Citizen’s of Humanity’s Tallulah jumpsuit.

Then, there’s the jumpsuit that Vogue.com’s Sally Singer wore – a lightweight, dark-wash all-in-one from Citizens of Humanity that, turns out, looks incredible with a high-fashion shoe by Rodarte, and is perfectly appropriate for dinner at Ralph Lauren’s Polo Lounge, if paired with Givenchy kitten heels. Thank you, Sally, for reminding us that real style means writing your own rules.

_TJ_5071Florence in Citizens of Humanity’s Maternity Drew Crop Flares, when she was pregnant with her son Magnus, now almost 5 months!

Florence and I made our own memories in jeans this year, too, the best ones being with our families (or, in Florence’s case, while growing one!). Seven months pregnant with her son Magnus, Florence tested the Citizens of Humanity maternity line, picking the Drew Crop Flare style to be our Jean of the Week after discovering how cool they made her look, and how great they made her feel. Mommies-to-be, these are a must!

Jane BishopJane and her dad Ron Herman wore their favorite denim for a Father’s Day dance in the streets of Soho, NYC.

It makes sense that we feel most connected to the pairs we wear when we’re with family, I suppose. In the presence of the people we love, things become more vivid, harder to forget. Me, the most unforgettable thing I did in denim this year was dance with my dad in the streets of New York. With him, what was just another Jean of the Week turned into an experience we both think back on so fondly now. And will forever. Here’s to that in 2016!

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Photographs by Mimi Ritzen Crawford, Derek Kettela, Katrina Dickson, Kava Gorna, and Taylor Jewell.