M.i.h Jeans' Chloe Lonsdale Breaks Down Denim Trends for Summer
Says the brand's founder and chief creative officer, "It's not about the most flattering, leg lengthening skinny jeans anymore, but about the attitude that a jean gives you. "
Since founding M.i.h Jeans in 2006, chief creative officer Chloe Lonsdale has built the London-based company into a staple of indigo-loving women — including Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore — who appreciate comfort, style and quality.
Lonsdale’s love and knowledge of denim runs deep, as her parents were a part of the denim revolution of the '70s; her dad, Tony, founded the Jean Machine store in London and her mom, Chekkie, was a model. “My parents would say to me: ‘Work hard, believe in yourself and be clear on what you are trying to say, what makes you different,'” explained Lonsdale of advice her parents gave to her younger self.
The words of wisdom didn't stop there. Lonsdale noted her parents also emphasized that, “Denim is such an important part of history and of so many peoples’ wardrobes that there is a huge opportunity in the market, you just need to speak above all the noise."
M.i.h. has been able to do just that with modern-yet-classic takes on styles ranging from skinnies to flares and relaxed styles beyond indigo, such as knit dresses and button-up shirts that are polished enough to be office appropriate.
M.i.h Jeans is sold across 43 countries and available at Net-a-Porter.com, MatchesFashion.com, Harvey Nichols and Neiman Marcus among others. Pret-a-Reporter caught up with the designer to chat about all things denim.
Pret-a-Reporter: What is the inspiration behind the autumn/winter collection?
Lonsdale: Each season we select a muse which we reference as we design the collection. We are drawn to women (or places) that have a distinct creative energy and an inspiring way of living and dressing. For autumn/winter 2016, our muses were sisters and musicians Joan Baez and Mimi Farina. They were a part of the folk music scene of the '60s and '70s and bring a collegiate and nostalgic feel to the collection which is both feminine and boyish, authentically vintage and beatnik.
Is there a denim trend you are loving right now?
It’s so exciting to see the current move from super skinny jeans to non-stretch vintage-fit denim in authentic blue washes. Vintage-feeling denim has always been at the heart of what we do, so we are experts in the area and at the forefront of the movement. It's not about the most flattering, leg-lengthening skinny jeans anymore, but about the attitude that a jean gives you.
The cropped flare is having a real moment. It will continue to be our key fashion shape for autumn/winter 2016 after being our best seller for spring/summer 2016.
THE NEW "IT" JEAN: Marty high-rise cropped flare; $265, mih-jeans.com
Is there a denim trend you are not loving right now?
I don’t like over-processed denim with excess distressing or rips. Denim should be clean and simple with minimal fuss.
Do you have a piece from the current collection that you think is perfect for wearing during summer in L.A.?
It has to be the denim shirt from our 10-year anniversary collection the Cult Denim Project. It’s what everyone needs when they want to bring denim into their wardrobe in a way that’s not necessarily jeans. It is the most versatile piece you can own.
THE NEW CLASSIC: Timeless denim shirt; $235, mih-jeans.com
You have been designing for M.i.h. for 10 years. Where do you see the company ten years from now?
I'd love for M.i.h to be known as an authority on denim internationally, possessed of a very clear vision of how denim can be cool, universal and have a true luxury quality. I'd be particularly proud if people think of us as one of the brands that define the style of London, our home city, in the same way that you might identify Acne with Stockholm style. People dress so excitingly in London, a bit vintage, a bit dressed up, a bit dressed down, and I love that our clothes are a part of that.
I certainly dream of brick-and-mortar shops in our future, and I think we'll be making more than clothes. The brands I respect have stayed true to their vision and built organically, branching out into different products in a way that feels very natural, and using their experience and deep roots to make things of real value and beauty. I love the idea of accessories but also housewares — things that reflect real life in the same way that denim does.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Lonsdale's parents Tony and Chekkie
What do you feel makes M.i.h jeans different from other brands?
I think being a British business already separates M.i.h Jeans from the rest. I’m a trained designer with a background in denim, with a family in denim, and when you combine the two with being London-based (which is not a traditional base for the denim manufacturing industry — that’s usually Italy or Los Angeles), it makes for something special.
We have a passion for beautiful product and specialize in denim in vintage fits and authentic washes. It’s not about making a pair of jeans. It’s about building a vision of a brand and of a woman and of her way of living. It is so fundamentally different than a traditional American denim brand that we’ve always been able to build our own thing and do our own thing. We create collections that embody the relaxed, assured spirit of blue-jean culture, products that people live in, that evolve with them.
A lot of celebrities are fans of the brand. Is there someone in particular you were most excited about seeing in M.i.h.?
We have been very lucky to have a loyal celebrity fans right from the beginning. There are a few sightings that stick in mind as really exciting moments for M.i.h; when Kate Moss and Keira Knightly wore our jeans in the early days of the brand, both felt like a real brand defining moments for us. More recently it’s been amazing to see Emma Stone, Diane Kruger and Florence Welch all wearing M.i.h.