Today we give you the two people who designed and built this site. Derrick Leung and Adam Johnson are the designer and developer, respectively, behind Weird Science Studio, a boutique firm based in Manhattan that specializes in style-driven domains. In April of this year we sat with them to talk about our concept for Jean Stories, and about eight months, one major “Aha” moment, what feels like a million emails, and a few fires that only technical difficulties can fuel later, we have this site to show for our collaboration. We think a round of applause for Derrick and Adam is most definitely in order.
Of course, we didn’t decide to work with them because of their jeans (though they do wear great ones, and they are particular). Derrick and Adam’s ingenuity, aesthetic elegance, and patient, problem-solving attitude are what made them our match. But, because no one understands the story of Jean Stories the way that these guys do, we thought – one day shy of one month since launch – it was time they told us their own.
You know, we sat in this room with you both for months, but we never really talked about you! Let’s start with where you’re from…
Derrick: I’m from California. Cupertino, California.
Adam: I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, but when I was a young teeanger we moved to a town called The Gold Coast, which is a beach town in Queensland. And then I moved to New York almost eight years ago.
Tell us about the jeans you have on today…
Adam: My jeans are A.P.C. and I believe the model is Petit Standard. I got them many years ago, to be honest. You’re not going to like this, but I don’t wear jeans that often. These are really the only ones that I have or wear. Because they are so worn, I have gone into A.P.C to get another pair – but I don’t like the really raw denim, which is how these start off. Though I do know that A.P.C. has that recycled program that they do. You can buy pre-worn jeans…
Derrick: That’s gross.
Adam: Yeah. But yeah, I do really like these. So I just wear these.
But there had to have been a point at which you wore them a lot, though, no? Look how worn-in they are.
Adam: Yeah, there probably was a point during which I wore these jeans more often, but I would say that more recently, in the past couple of years, I really haven’t worn these jeans that much.
And you also mentioned that you don’t really wash those?
Derrick: That’s gross, too.
OK, so what is it about jeans that you don’t like? We can talk about that, too.
Adam: This is ridiculous, but I think that because I’m in front of a computer all day everyday I do find it more comfortable to wear trousers. Or, a lot of the time I’m wearing shorts. Just things that have a little bit more movement.
So, for you, it’s about being comfortable?
Adam: It’s more of a comfort thing because I am in front of my computer most of my life. I would wear jeans if I were just going out to dinner with friends. Or if I had to dress up. I’m generally quite a casual person, so I only wear trainers. I don’t really have any, what I call, “adult shoes.” If I’m going out somewhere, I’d wear jeans. I guess they’re maybe my dressier thing, though that doesn’t really make sense. But, yeah, I don’t really make an effort when I come to the office, unless I have a meeting. But if I’m going out I would make more of an effort and wear jeans.
Can you tell me about your tattoos?
Adam: This one is just a Star Wars tattoo, which is a Dracula Yoda, done by this artist Adam Hayes who has a shop called Red Rocket in midtown. This is the most recent. This took like three sittings. This one’s older – “The Summer Wind” was my mother’s favorite song. This is all going to get really sad now, but my mother died about two years ago and a lot of the tattoos that I have are about her. So he kind of worked around this one because I kind of wasn’t really into it. Aurora is my niece and Freddie is my nephew. They are brother and sister. And this is a portrait of my mother from, like, the 70s. This one here is Mt. Fuji. It doesn’t have a whole story, it’s just that my favorite place to visit is Japan. This one is probably the most ridiculous one, which is after that video game, The Legend of Zelda. My old dog before Ripley, her name was Zelda, after the video game. I had her from when I was a kid, and so when she died I got this tattoo for her.
Have you had any repairs made to your jeans?
Not these, no. I had another pair, and I think I had the crotch repaired.
Why do you think they wear in there? Do you ride a bicycle?
Do you squat a lot in them?
Derrick: Do you go to the gym in them?
Adam: I mean, I used to ride a bike, so maybe that’s it. And also my boyfriend wears all of my clothes and wears these jeans. We’re pretty much exactly the same size and he rides a bike. He wears jeans almost every day. He works in TV. Everyone who works in TV seems to wear jeans.
Click on an image to see the slideshow
OK, what about you Derrick?
Derrick: Me? No groovy tattoos. My jeans are Levi’s Made & Crafted, and I think to my understanding someone told me that they are selvedge denim. They are fancy, real jeans. They just got a bit loose. They are soft and nice – a good medium weight that you can wear in summer and winter. I got them at this interesting denim store in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Denim Co. on Wythe Avenue. It’s a really nice environment. They do all of the hemming there, and it’s just really relaxed and a nice way to buy jeans.
These jeans are, like, a medium fit, not too tight but also not too loose. Like, a mid-rise. Though I’m not super finicky about that kind of stuff. The simplicity of them… I don’t like fancy washes, or holes that are pre-made. They’re black. Generally, I’ve been wearing black jeans lately. I think there’s this new wave of lighter denim, and white jeans happening among my friends, and the dark jean has gone away. [Whispers under his breath] Kanye…
You think Kanye is responsible for that?
Derrick: No, I just think that you feel trends subconsciously. He is very stylish and people look up to him – and when he did it I was kind of like, Oh this makes sense. It wasn’t like when he first started wearing leather pants. I was like, that’s really weird. Somehow the light jeans that he wears felt right at the moment.
Adam: I also feel like I’m seeing people wear jeans with a lot of holes in them.
Derrick: Yeah, the holes. Like 90s Tupac. Looser fit.
And who made your shirt?
Derrick: American Apparel. It was a gift. Just simple.
Is it sort of always the same look for you?
Derrick: Me? Yeah, because we’re having a meeting.
So this is your meeting look?
Derrick: [Laughs] Yeah we’re having a meeting, let’s wear some jeans.
Before we came to you with the idea for this site, had you thought about denim at all? Was it something that you considered in your daily lives?
Adam: Yeah, I mean, I had jeans my whole life and I’d gone through periods of wearing jeans more than I wear now. When I was younger in Australia and everyone was wearing Tsubi [now Ksubi] jeans, that was a big thing.
Derrick: Are they still in business?
Adam: Yeah, they have a shop on Mulberry Street.
Derrick: They still have that shop!
Adam: But when I first got those jeans people would come running up saying, Who makes those jeans?
Derrick: Really? Running?
Adam: Yeah because they were quite distressed, really distressed. I remember the pair that I had, the pockets just fell off straight away. They weren’t an established business then. The jeans were $500. I spent a brief time in Brisbane, and I remember not being allowed into nightclubs because I was wearing my Tsubi jeans. They were so distressed and so I wasn’t allowed in…
Derrick: [Whispers] They were too sexy.
They wouldn’t let you in because they were too distressed? The nightclub?
Adam: Yeah, and one time I was in line at this nightclub and the guy wouldn’t let me in because of these jeans and I remember the girl behind me going, “Those are Tsubi jeans. You should let him in.” [everyone laughs]
Derrick: How old were you?
Adam: I was, like, 20.
How did you find them?
Adam: They were being sold at Brisbane’s coolest store and a couple of my friends had them. And they were kind of a new look at the time. I kind of feel like they were kind of like boot-legged, like, a little bit flared out. And the look was that the bottom of the jeans would drag along the ground. And no was doing that kind of thing at the time in Australia. They were the cool jean to have. And that company grew and grew, but I only ever owned that first pair.
Do you still have them?
Adam: No. I actually don’t hang on to clothes. I actually throw clothes out.
Derrick, did you think about jeans before you started working with us?
Derrick: Yeah, it was definitely a staple growing up. And actually now, it’s funny how the black jean has become this cross between casual and work wear.
How many pairs of jeans do you have?
Derrick: Active vs. inactive? Probably I have 10 sitting there and I probably wear two. My other pair are Acne. Once upon a time I helped on the Acne website a little bit and then I thought I was cool enough to wear Acne. They’re great. They’re really friendly. They’re actually like girly jeans for guys, supersoft sometimes with some stretch. I think if I found these when I was younger I would think they were girl jeans. Now, I think they are so nice.
I don’t wear jeans everyday. I’ve been fluctuating as I’ve been getting older. I wear pants, too. I feel like J. Crew has brainwashed me into wearing pants. I see them in the catalog and I’m like, Man I should get some pants.
What about denim works for you, Derrick?
Derrick: You know, I wear it a lot when I have business trips, actually. I wear it a lot when, you know, you want to pack light and you need something for different situations. Denim seems to be one of those things that can work in all of these different scenarios.
I travel a lot, go to Shanghai and London for a while. But I do a lot of other stuff working on websites.
What are the black-and-white photos on your Instagram feed?
Derrick: I do some as a hobby and it’s been growing, I’m getting hired to do some other things.
How many pairs of jeans do you usually bring with you when you travel?
Derrick: Just one. But maybe I should pack two. I just never think that I can for some reason. And then I pack way too many sweaters.
I actually get everything tailored a bit to slim it down. My legs are shorter and my arms more thin. I never really buy anything too expensive, but I think that fit is the most important thing. I think because we work in fashion and with people who work in fashion you start to get a sense of what are ostentatious or excessive details, that are very seasonal that are not necessary. So I’m just very much about essentials that you can wear for a lifetime.
Adam: I wear a white t-shirt every day. I have, like, 30 white t-shirts. They are all James Perse or Alexander Wang.
Those are really nice t-shirts.
Adam: The Alexander Wang ones are good, but the James Perse are the Japanese cotton ones and you can wash them forever and they never shrink. Because I’m too lazy to hand wash and hang things to dry.
Derrick: Yeah, the white t-shirt is just universally flattering. So, like jeans.