“I never dreamed in my life that a pair of vintage jeans could look like these, and then when I saw them I couldn’t imagine a day in my life without them,” said Olivia Kim about her patch-covered Lees. “It just goes to show you – you really don’t know what’s out there, because, just, you don’t know!” Given that a big part of Olivia’s job at Nordstrom, where she is the director of creative projects and the curator of the store’s monthly themed pop-ups, is about discovering un-seen stuff, it figures she’d show up wearing a once-hidden treasure. I was expecting Olivia to bring exactly that…and one other thing: her infectious energy, something she is as famous in the fashion circuit for having as her totally singular, totally colorful and cool sense of style.

But wait, can I tell you how glorious it was in Paris the day we photographed Olivia in the Tuileries? Sunshine, karate class and dogs off their leashes on the lawn… “How fun was that?!?,” she wrote me later. Pretty darn fun. As fun as Olivia and her jeans. These Lees are clearly a labor of someone’s love, and that’s what Olivia connects to most in them. “Seriously, every patch, every bleach mark, every stitch was purposeful, hand-done, and intentional,” she said. “I like to wonder who the person who did this was – what did she eat for breakfast, did she have a dog, what color is her hair?” And, I might ask, what would she think if she saw her jeans on Olivia, having a heck of a time on a Sunday afternoon in the City of Light? Wish you were here!

First, where did you find these Lees and what else do you remember happening on that day?

I bought these at Metropolis on 3rd Avenue in NYC. I was with my boyfriend, Alex, and we had gone there to see Richard, who is the owner of Metroplis, about another project that I was working on. Metropolis has been there for ages and I used to shop there all the time when I was in college, so it’s always been a go-to for me. As we were saying our goodbyes, I saw my jeans hanging there and was all, ‘WHOA WHOA WHOA. What are those?’ And the guys in the shop were saying that people have been freaking out over them and trying them on, but they are too small. Its kind of a Cinderella story because they were a perfect fit! And that never happens to me. I was so beyond stoked! Alex and I went for salads at Whole Foods after!

How do you recommend wearing jeans like these?

I’m usually pretty casual all the time, so I love these with something simple and a great coat. There’s so much going on with them that you kind of want the focus to be about the jean. I don’t have enough of an attention span to share them with something else.

Click on a pic to get a closer look at Olivia’s jeans…
Olivia Kim

Describe your Lees for me in one word.


How do you think they would describe you, in one word?


If they could talk, what would they say?

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” (One of my favorite quotes from Susan Sontag.)

If they could offer one word of advice, what would it be?

Do you! Be original, polite, and gracious!

What do your jeans know about you that no one else knows?

I’m super messy until it gets to be REALLY unbearablely bad. And then, when I can’t stand it any longer, the Virgo in me kicks in and cleans and organizes everything to perfection! There’s no middle ground.

Olivia Kim

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done in your Lees?

Probably our shoot! I’m in Paris all the time for work, running around and being a crazy maniac, and that was the first time in a long time that I was able to take a few hours to walk through the Jardin des Tuileries, sit outside in the sunshine, pet some chiens, and pose with the statues. Thanks, guys!

Thank you, Olivia! So, if you could go anywhere else in the world in them tomorrow, where would you go?

Africa. I want these jeans to see the elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, rhinos, and go safari with me!

If you had to pick a favorite patch or part of your Lees, what would it be, and why?

I love the bleached-out baby heart right above the left pocket. It’s such a cute little detail, and so demonstrative of the art and craft that went into these.

Pick three patches on your jeans and tell me what they remind you of, or what they evoke for you.

1.) The tassel trim on the back pocket reminds me not to take myself so seriously all the time. You gotta have fun.

2. )The navy-and-white anchor patch reminds me of my best friends.

3.) The polka dots remind me of my dog Spy. I’ll find any excuse to think of Spy!

Olivia Kim

How do these jeans help you do what you love to do?

I love that they are a conversation starter. Every time I wear them, I get stopped and asked about them. And that gives me a chance to ask a question in return. I love engaging with people and am just naturally so curious about what others are interested in. I guess they act, in a way, like a wing man!

How are you and your jeans alike?

I think we are both colorful, unexpected and fun! (I feel like I’m putting a classified in the newspaper.)

What’s the best possible ending you could imagine for them?

Being swallowed by an orca while surfing.

What’s the best possible thing you could be doing in them right now?

I’m on a plane answering these questions right now :( So the best possible thing would be if this plane were being re-routed to Bali.


Olivia Kim

Fill in the blank: In my jeans, I feel like _______________________.


Fill in the blank: My jeans are to me what ________________ is to _________________.

Ben was to Jerry.


Nordstrom’s current pop-up, curated by Olivia, is called Magic Hour and features a psychedelic mix of festival-ready gear, including customized Converse sneakers and jeans by Rialto Jean Project. For more info, go to nordstrom.com/pop.