Before you read on about Rachel DiCarlo and Preston Konrad, and their jeans, and why they love them, you should know a little bit about these American Eagle Outfitters insiders. Rachel, now VP of Public Relations for AE, and its sister lingerie line Aerie, was in PR at Calvin Klein in the mid-90s. Just think, Calvin in the 90s! The models, the jeans, the androgynous beauties…the clothes. She would wear head-to-toe runway looks to work. It was a different time when it came to how style was defined.
Then, Rachel went on to do PR for Gap for several years, right when a more personal way of dressing began to creep into public consciousness (thank you, Sharon Stone, in your white Gap tee at the Oscars!) Now, at AE, Rachel’s wearing chambray shirts and ripped skinnies, which she personalizes with jewelry (bracelets by Hermès and Lokai, for instance), perfect hair, and, sorry to be corny, her really nice smile! As she points out, recent years have been all about denim becoming acceptable for any time, any happening. The current moment is all about dressing as individuals. What allows for that better than jeans?
Preston, on the other hand, was a player in the launch of Ralph Lauren Rugby. His beginning is like the fashion equivalent of being spotted by a model scout – his style was so strong, he was literally plucked from behind the counter at the Gap store in Boston where he was working one day, and flown to New York to meet Ralph himself that night. Nine years at the RL empire and a stint at Belstaff later, and now he’s style director at AE. He’s in charge of creating the brand’s story from a fashion point of view and “keeping things cohesive and relevant and cool for our kids.” (Ahem, not just kids… A pair of white AE ripped-knee boyfriend jeans were my savior this past summer, and I’m not a teenager, obviously. Everyone wanted to know where they were from.) And, it must be noted, he is the co-host of a new makeover show on TLC airing in January. Man, we love a makeover show. Cannot wait.
All this is to say that AE has got some behind-the-scenes talent getting their denim message heard loud and clear. Did you know the company offers 22 styles of jeans? Not to mention the chambray shirts, denim jackets, vests… “American Eagle is all about individual style, and celebrating real people who take what we make and make it their own,” Rachel says. Here’s to that. Now, let’s get to her and Preston’s – and AE’s – jeans.
Tell us about what you’re wearing today…
Preston: Well, I’m wearing our new super skinny for guys. It’s a fit we’ve introduced for the UK launch, as we know guys in London wear really skinny jeans. The launch is next month. November 14th.
Rachel: We have three stores opening. Right outside London.
Preston: The super skinny is great to work in, while still keeping tension and looking cool. I’m on a plane a lot, so I want to be comfortable. And then I’m wearing our brushed Navajo flannel, which I love. And a little leather jacket and some suede monkstrap shoes from Zara. I’m all about the high-low. I’ll spend on a nice bag, or a watch, or a bracelet. And then buy clothes to live in, that are just easy for busting around the city all the time. I get dirty, hauling trunks of clothes through the desert or, like, on a glacier, and I do not need to be in a Balenciaga look for that!
Rachel: I’m in a classic “me” moment, because I love denim on denim. But I also love texture, so it can’t be matching denim. It has to be ripped and destroyed denim, with a great, soft chambray, so it has some movement to it. I’m in AE’s premium denim, which is one of my favorite jeans we’ve made. Our new Wear America collection has a jean like this coming out soon. I kind of have the same mentality as Preston, with the high-low mix – and I’m always embellishing with the accessories, the nail polish, and hair and makeup…but keeping a low-key, cool vibe.
What do you love most about the jeans you have on right now?
Rachel: How soft they are. They’re even softer now, but they were still really soft when I bought them. I can hold them up and know they’re going to fit. They’re my shape. I love that.
Preston: I love selvedge jeans, but these come stretchy and comfortable. That’s very new to me, that technology for men, having a little bit of stretch. I usually like working hard for the iPhone wear on my pocket, for that little mark in the wash where my wallet goes. But these have that work done. And I can work in them and feel comfortable, and still look good if I have to go to a meeting or dinner after work.
What about denim do you love most?
Rachel: I believe living in denim is the best way to live your life. It’s ironic because the AE theme is “Live your Life.” But I truly believe it because when I put denim on I feel confident, happy, comfortable. I just feel like myself.
Preston: It’s sexy, all of it.
Click on an pic to get closer…
Do you two remember the first pair of jeans you ever had?
Rachel: I do [laughs].
Preston: The first pair I remember wearing that connected with me, I swear, I think they were American Eagle. When I was in middle school, about (I’m in my 30s now). When I was in high school, I would go to AE because I knew it was the destination for cool jeans that looked like they cost $200. I also had a patched-up pair that I did by hand that were vintage.
Rachel: I was way younger. I remember getting my jeans when I was five and six. I saw these jeans and they had an ebroidered eagle on the back pocket – go figure. And here I am at American Eagle now – this light-wash flare jean that had a white embroidered eagle on them. I remember being obsessed. And then every summer, at the playground, I wore white jeans every day, from like six years old on. And then ripped jeans…I was always in denim. Wearing Levi’s, and then I was at Gap. I was always collecting jeans, and felt my best in them. Any time I have to wear a black pant…
Preston: Doesn’t it freak you out?
Rachel: …I feel at least ten or fifteen years older. I just feel younger wearing denim. Growing up, white jeans were really my thing. I remember white jeans…and Joe Namath’s number 12! Those football jerseys were so big in the 70s. I lived in the 70s and 80s in ripped jeans, too. In college we’d splatter paint, dye them in the sink with bleach, and make them all tie-dye-looking. It was so much fun.
Describe your jeans for us in one word.
What do you need your jeans to be always?
Preston: Mine always have to be perfectly fitted.
Rachel: I hate to copy, but I feel the same. It’s all about fit.
Preston: No saggy butts. Or stretchy legs. Not cute.
If your jeans could talk, what would they say about you?
Preston: These ones would say that this guy doesnt skip a beat.
Rachel: That they can’t believe how many places I am in one day.
What’s the weirdest place your jeans have been?
Preston: On a TV show. It was weird, but amazing.
Rachel: On an ATV in the desert in Palm Springs last spring break.
Click on a pic for more…
Was there ever a pair that got away?
Rachel: Definitely – ones that have faded to where I can’t wear anymore. I tried to have them patched. They were AE before I even worked here.
Preston: I saw an amazing pair in London once, that had been patched and patched. With the price conversion, they were too expensive. But I did think about them for the rest of the trip. I don’t even know what kind of jeans they were. They were just cool and they looked like me.
Do you own a pair only you could love?
Preston: I have a pair where the whole crotch blew out. I had them repaired three times. They’re old Ralph. I’ve had them for 11 years. I wear them to go to the hardware store and places like that. No one but me would ever wear them.
Rachel: I love my boyfriend jeans. They’re just so big and baggy. If I don’t wear a belt I have to really be careful [laughs]. They’re from a few years ago when we first started doing that look. But I don’t know if anyone but me would wear them. The holes in the knees are so big.
Who besides you has worn the jeans you’re wearing now?
Preston: My boyfriend and I share jeans. He’s not a shopper. He’s a jeans-and-tee kind of guy. He complains about my shopping, but when I bring something new home he says, ‘Oh, these are cool. Can I try them on?’ [laughs].
Rachel: Just me and my daughter, who’s 15. When I bring home a sample and they’re too small on me, I say, ‘You try them on!’
How many pairs do you need to feel satisfied?
Rachel: I think it’s a safety net – seeing the abundance. But in reality, there are probably six in rotation at any given moment or season. This covers that gamut of washes – faded, destroyed, black, white and gray. And then I’ll feel safe. If I go on a trip, boom, they’re all coming.
Preston: I need six-eight pairs. I need the black and the gray and the light wash and the destroyed. Then I do a cream, and a fun novelty one. And I bring them with me everywhere. But I probably have over 50 pairs of jeans.
Rachel: Yeah. Me, too.
If you had to replace all of your jeans with one thing, what would it be?
Rachel: I would cry, probably [laughs].
Preston: It would have to be a chino, so I could go dark, light, maroon, navy…The variance in color is so important to me. It couldn’t be suit pants.
Rachel: I could say corduroys, because I’m a five-pocket kind of girl. Then you get the range of color and different fits. Or just military-style pants with the cargo pocket.
Fill in the blank: Without my jeans, I am _____________.
Rachel: Not myself.
In my jeans, I am _____________.
Rachel: My most confident and happy.