VT: How did the name Life|After|Denim come about? How did you all meet?
L|A|D's ALEXIS FREY: The name came about after quite a bit of brainstorming. It was a fun time, and we were all like, “That’s the name of the brand!”
Michael Choi and I have known each other since childhood; our fathers have been business partners in the garment manufacturing business for over 30 years. Jessica Weiner has been working with us for almost four years. Jason Shelby was at Urban Outfitters before deciding to move back to LA. We heard through the grapevine that he was available. Our team is growing more all the time. We’re still small and tight, though, which is what we would prefer.
Describe the perfect Life|After|Denim guy. What career occupation would he be in and what would his typical day be like?
The perfect Life|After|Denim guy is really every guy. He is creative, laid back, and stylish—perhaps somewhat intellectual—with a great sense of humor. My husband does visual effects for films. My neighbors are in TV production and academia. They all use their hands and minds to create something special. Maybe the Life|After|Denim guy is even an artist or architect who splits his time between NY and LA. If he had the time, he would travel to Paris, Rome, Stockholm, and Tokyo to take pictures, get inspired, unwind, and, of course, eat.
Who would be the ideal public ambassador for the brand?
A creative, smart, inspiring, handsome, philanthropic man with effortless natural style. He must be out there somewhere. Maybe like a fusion of Jack Kerouac and Brad Pitt.
Describe the road to creating the brand. Was it an easy path or a complicated one? What's the most challenging step in creating a clothing business?
The short answer is that is was complicated. But in a way it has been easy because we have been blessed to be doing what we love and to be following our passions. When you’re on the right path, it seems things tend to run more smoothly. The most challenging thing? Keeping the faith. Staying true to who and what we are and waiting out the tougher times. But it’s worth it.
One of the key factors about your brand is the pricing. What separates your brand from all the other brands with lower price points out there?
Quality. Ours is unmatched in our price point.
Do you think that affordability is more crucial in the success of a brand than creating a brand based on creativity?
We believe that the right balance of approachability, creativity, familiarity, and distinctiveness is key. We aim to put forth a collection of classic, high quality, effortlessly fashionable pieces, cut and tailored in a contemporary way. The collections are new and fresh, yet timeless. And yes, affordable.
How do you envision the brand Life|After|Denim's collections going forward?
We plan to grow and expand. We eventually hope for our own stores, and we’d love to do a women’s collection down the line.
The brand consists of a few individuals, both male and female. Can you describe your design process?
Our design process is pretty traditional—tried and true. We have strict deadlines and it takes determination and dedication to stay focused. We start with inspiration and establish the theme or mood of the season. We then design into that mood and create a comprehensive collection of functional, wearable pieces.
Your mission statement says that Life|After|Denim's key objective is to not feature denim as part of the collection. It says the idea is to wear your own personal favorite denim and mix it up with the collection. Since denim is such a major part of the business, will we ever see a denim item in the collection in the future?
Perhaps! But I can’t say much more about that (wink.)
What are your current inspirations? Any television shows, music, films, destinations?
“Mad Men” for its brilliance. It is inspiring in all aspects, especially artistically. Hong Kong is so full of energy and vibrance. When you’re there you feel like you can do anything. Tokyo is great for the people, fashion, and food. For music, it’s all over the place from public radio to hip-hop to pop. My current favorite song is Norah Jones’ “Chasing Pirates,” which brings peace. In terms of art, my long time favorites are Edward Hopper, David Hockney, Mondrian, Monet, and Matisse.
What's your favorite piece that you created in the collection?
These are good, hard questions! I love our woven shirts…they are so easy and wearable—the right items for right now. But my favorite piece is the plaid “Elite Peacoat” we did for Holiday '09. A plaid peacoat is just so bold and out there, yet classic and sophisticated. It takes a lot of natural style to pull it off!
What's your motto in life?