Fashion: Devoted to denim
JEANS. The fashion failsafe fell out of favour in the 1990s due to the Jeremy Clarkson effect but they’re never far from the catwalks in some guise or other and these days they’re more popular than ever.
Chloe Lonsdale has jeans in her genes. Her father was Tony Lonsdale, owner of The Jeans Machine, Britain’s first denim retailer, on London’s King’s Road; her mother top model Chekkie, who was the face of a brand known as Made In Heaven. But when Lonsdale inherited the brand in 2005 from the owner (who also happened to be her godfather), she dragged it into the noughties – and shortened that name to a more snappy MiH.
“Having grown up surrounded by denim, I always knew it was the industry I wanted to work in,” she says. “As a child I used to cut Dad’s old deadstock into shorts and sell them to my school friends.”
She studied fashion design at Central St Martins then worked at Nicole Farhi for two years, helping with everything from design to sourcing furniture for Farhi’s 212 store. “I then decided it was time to relaunch MiH, something that had been at the back of my mind for a long time. I had the first pair of jeans in my hands in 2006.”
Seven years on, while jeans are still the mainstay of the collection, it has grown to include shirts, T-shirts, jackets and knitwear. But, as always, the inspiration starts close to home. “The starting point for the AW13 collection was the contrasts inherent in denim – that you can be tomboyish and elegant at the same time; at once classic and current. The influence of sportswear and boyish cool can be seen in the placement of seams, panelling and frayed edges. Subtle zips, fine stitching and pared-back metallics bring a grown-up elegance and the update of dots and stripes in silk prints and jersey brings a modernity to classic references.
“As MiH has grown up,” she adds, “I’ve grown up with the brand and I’m ambitious that it reflects the reality of how women want to dress. Again, this sense of lifestyle comes first and foremost from jeans: effortless and understated, easy and elegant. We’re growing into presenting a full ready-to-wear collection, focused on beautiful, quality, casual pieces that can be worn and loved.
“We emphasise natural luxury fibres such as silk, alpaca, mohair and leather to reflect the same feel of soft, washed quality and longevity that we achieve in the jeans, and we work with some great producers to bring out the beauty inherent in these natural materials.”
And, where Farrah Fawcett and Jane Birkin were fans back in the 1970s, this modern collection has attracted a more modern following, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and Rachel Weisz.
“It always brings a smile to my face to see people wearing MiH, whether celebrity or not,” says Lonsdale. “I love Gwyneth Paltrow’s style, so that was definitely a highlight, and Kate Bosworth wears them really well.”
Next on the agenda is a pair of jeans that acts like control underwear. No wonder she’s excited about it. “The Bodycon jean is made from a revolutionary new denim that recovers more than stretches, pulling you in and smoothing you out at the same time. They have only just launched and we have almost sold out already, but don’t worry – we’re expecting more stock soon.”