DL1961 Premium Denim proved that denim can be both fashion forward and figure flattering at its first New York Fashion Week runway presentation. Not long after watching the sun set on the Hudson at Pier 57, guests (among whom were Kristin Chenoweth and Alex and Simon McCord), watched as a troupe of dancers performed on the runway while wearing the premium denim line’s jeans. After demonstrating that yes, you can prance, plié, and leap gracefully in DL1961’s “perfect fitting” jeans, the dancers sauntered off and made way for the models.
Both the male and female models walked briskly down the runway, dressed in easy, casual looks punctuated by both timeless and on-trend jeans. For the men, there were traditional, dark blue washes, as well as baby blue and even a bright yellow pair of jeans. The women’s denim was decidedly more adventurous, with looks ranging from bright coral and floral printed leggings to sequined and embroidered flares. The models, whose hair was chicly undone in partially braided ponytails, paired their denim with simple, sheer blouses and flats. Over forty looks went down the runway - and whether the jeans were distressed, embroidered, or embellished with leather details, the message was clear - denim, while still a wardrobe staple for many, has gone far beyond basic.
In the midst of the organized chaos that is backstage during Fashion Week, DL1961 Premium Denim Creative Director Sarah Ahmed took a few minutes to sit down with FutureClaw:
Lauren Russo - How would you describe DL1961’s mission statement?
Sarah Ahmed - Basically, our entire philosophy is that we want to make women look sexy. And then of course a sleek, cool, easy style. It has to be easy. So our core philosophy is basically that. Our entire line is based on a revolutionary new fabric called XFit Lycra ©. And what that basically means is that your jeans never sag, bag, or lose shape, and move 360 degrees. So with this show, what we’ve tried to show is that yes, we are on trend, we are the new “it” denim line, but we have not deviated from our philosophy of comfort; they make you look taller, they make you look skinnier they make you feel sexy. Compared to the thousands of other premium denim, the hundreds of other premium denim lines out there, we have something different, and it is because of our technology. And no one can fake technology, you know? Our expert fabric is the next generation in denim. There’s been no development in denim since two-way stretch: this stretches four ways. And then what we’ve done with the line, is that we have our core basics. We’ve got it down to a science – we’ve taken this new fabric and then incorporated the trends into it, but always, every jean that comes out, we make sure it’s in line with our philosophy, that it really accentuates your body. So if a trend is not working, we don’t go for it. Every piece, every body type: if you put on any piece, it will accentuate your body.
LR - So would you say that the fabric is the chicken or the egg? Is XFit © something that you came across in your quest to make the perfect jean?
SA - The fabric was the inspiration to make the perfect jean. A few years ago, INVISTA approached us, which is the company that makes XFit Lycra ©, and they said, “We have this great new technology, fiber it really was, to create a jean, but are you ready to do the R&D and produce it?” And we were like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ And so when we started, we basically had one wash and one fit, and from there now we have over 150 skews in every color, every range – embroidery, printed, waxed, everything you can imagine. And that took a lot of R&D, a lot of patience and a lot of commitment – we never deviated from XFit ©. We wanted every piece to have XFit © in it. The fabric is number one the first priority. Even the show, it’s going to start with – Can I say it [turning to a member of her team], Can I say how the show is going to start? [-“Yeah, she’ll see it soon”]. Our show is going to start with these amazing dancers wearing our basic white and black, just to show that while we’re showing the trends, our core philosophy is about movement and comfort of the fabric.
LR - Denim, especially, DL1961, has definitely gone beyond basic blue jeans. There are so many denim trends right now: coated denim, printed denim, etc. Why do you think denim is having such a big moment right now?
SA - It’s because of all of the stuff you can do with denim, technology-wise; also because it gives you a better shape, it gives you a much better shape than, say, a printed cotton blend pant, that you buy, like a trouser. It gives you a better shape, it makes you feel sexier, and so nothing can beat the way people look in denim.
LR - You design mens’ jeans as well – does XFit © have the same shape benefits for the boys?
SA - Guys don’t necessarily want to look skinnier or to accentuate their butts, but it’s so comfortable, that men are looking for a dark rinse, or basic denim, it’s just more comfortable, so they just love it. We are a New York City brand – and what is New York City known for? A 24-hour lifestyle. These jeans epitomize the 24-hour lifestyle, that’s the best way to put it.
LR - How would you recommend someone who has not been quick to, or may be shy to, take to the patterned/ coated denim trend and style a wilder pair of jeans?
SA - So much of our brand is about actually trying on the jeans. We have an excellent team of retail specialists that travel the United States and really help the customers out with the jeans. We are very big on education, we are very big on product knowledge, we’re very big on educating our customer. You’ll see in the runway show – if it’s a crazy pair of jeans, we’ll pair it with a subdued top. It’s about looking chic and easy. What is New York style? It’s never overdone; it’s an easy style.
LR - Where do you see yourself taking DL1961 next, creatively?
SA - I think we are looking at back to basic washes – a lot of coating, leather coating, a lot of subtle details – but back to basic distressing. You’ll see the spring line really celebrates denim, it celebrates the best of the best – even the prints that we’ve chosen are selective prints. We don’t want to do anything and everything, you know? We want to really focus on and fine-tune the trends, make them really sophisticated, and at the end of the day it’s about making the people who are wearing the jeans feel amazing.
LR - Thanks so much for chatting with me; I’m very excited to see the show!