Jeans are not necessarily the first things that come to mind when we think of Rachel Comey. Menswear, which is the category in which she got her start as a designer 13 years ago, and shoes, which she nails season after season, spring first. Along with soft colors, quirky prints, and a cool under-the-radar-ness that gives the women who wear her clothes the individuality they love. But, because we have denim on the brain, jeans were just about the only thing we saw when we ran into Rachel preparing to open her new flagship on Crosby Street last month. It was an exciting moment for the designer – a gorgeous store on one of downtown New York’s most fashionable streets. There would be a party later that night, but when we caught her setting up shop beforehand, there was still a lot of work to do…and to do it, Rachel had put on perfect, get-the-job-done jeans (A.P.C.’s if you must know. We certainly did). 

Now open, her store offers a plentiful mix of denim pieces, too: the jumpsuit, crop top, and culottes she wore for our shoot; a jacket screen-printed with cat-like spots; a painted white carpenter pant, which her stylish sales associate Jai Antoine, was wearing (look and shop for all below). The painted pieces like Jai’s were done by hand by all of the members of Rachel’s team. Their production was one, giant group project, Rachel told us. “We tried to think about what a real house painter would do and the colors he would use,” she said, pointing to Jai’s pants while we snapped their pic. “White, a lot of white, and cream and a little bit of blue, probably. So that became the palette.” 

There are other jean stories in Rachel’s store. The center display, where those shoes she nails every season are displayed, is made of pumice stones from the New Jersey laundry that washes and softens her denim before use. These stones are also in the bench that’s by the tree outside the store.”The wearability of denim, the casualness of it play a nice role in what I do right now,” Rachel said while sitting on that bench after our shoot. And, good for us, she trusts it will continue to do that for a while, as her next two collections – Fall 2014 and Resort 2015 – both feature forward-thinking designs in denim. Our preview, along with Rachel’s favorite summer denim memory of all time, here…

Let’s start with what you’re wearing – this jumpsuit! We love it!

Thanks. I got the fabric on the front from an Italian mill – it’s not denim, but it’s indigo-dyed, and I was just so into the layers. It’s like a canvas weave. And because it is indigo, the designers and I put it in the denim category in our minds. The shoulders and the back of the jumper is made of real dark denim, and though it’s been washed, it does still feel pretty stiff and crisp.

So, you’re not a jeans company, but do you use quite a bit of denim in your collections…

I do, I think of it just as another fabrication. I like to try to do unusual silhouettes with it. I feel like I’ve found a little niche, like I’m in a place where it’s like a novelty, for lack of a better word. No five-pockets, or stretch fits, or that kind of thing. It’s more about items that feel fresh.

Click on an image to see the slideshow

What do you like most about denim as a fabrication?

The wash opportunities. And the casualness of it, which is so awesome. Those two things make it super fun to play around with. There’s so much you can do with it – bleach it, paint it, lighten it…

What are its challenges?

Pleats. But it’s fun to try and make pleats work with denim.

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Any memorable denim moments?

Yeah, I mean, I have a pair of jean shorts that I remember my dad wearing that I still think about sometimes when it’s summer, because he always wore them mowing the lawn when I was growing up – these tiny little short denim shorts, like the shortest-ever short little shorts. I think that I adopted them sometime in college and I would belt them and cinch them. I think I still have them somewhere.

Do you remember what they are?

Brand? No. But they were like a light wash, and the back pockets had multiple pieces to them, like they were paneled or something, and they were really short and wide. Very cute on him mowing the lawn. I have always been nostalgic for them, his yard work jeans.

Click on an image to see the slideshow

Looking ahead at the denim that’s in store for us at Rachel Comey next season and the next…

Fall 2014



Rachel Comey


Rachel Comey, 95 Crosby Street, New York, NY; 212-334-0455; go to