Monday, December 12, 2011


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large
My first weekend job was as a denim grader for the vintage store Rokit. I've written about this here before, and I'm am planning a trip back to Rokit HQ in the New Year to see how its done today (probably not that differently, I'm guessing). During my subsequent decade and a half as a fashion writer and editor I've seen denim trends come, go and return again albeit utilising lighter more technical fabrics as befits the digital age. The current trends for coloured denim, skinny cuts and ripped up micro shorts mirror early 90s fashion pretty much to a tee. (The 90s are resonating now in music, fashion, protests, recession, even ecstasy is back in favour as a club drug.)
Through all of this I have been constantly evolving my taste in jeans and moving from one brand allegiance to another. Its quite a monogamous relationship I have with brands, I'm loyal with them until we split up; but it looks like I'm about to start an affair...
Apart from an ill-fated detour to Wrangler, the last few years belong to J Brand. I have moved through their Love Story flare to the skinny crop Bardot and combat style Houlihan. I'm now wearing the J Brand 811 candy pink jeans as much as is decent without being accused of being a style slut. The store, or rather I should say, the person who has seen me through all of this faddery, always on top of what is happening in the world of stylish denim, is Donna Ida Thornton owner of the denim boutique Donna Ida.

Hello Donna Ida Thornton!

Donna is a dynamo. A ball of sunny Australian energy. She is a woman who refuses to call her husband Bobby by his first name "because its boring." So she calls him "Bobby Dazzler" instead. You've got to warm to a woman like that. When I first met her back in 2007 she had one boutique. Now she has four situated in all of London's Yummy Mummy enclaves, but this should not be held against her. I use her website to buy replacements to existing jeans in my collection once I've worn them out. Recently, though, I've changed dress size, allowing myself to inflate to a size 10 after a decade as a size 8. In a battle between face or body, face wins. So now I have new denim needs: they need to slim my thigh and be high waisted so as not to emphasise hips. The leg cut has to be slim in order to create the impression of longer legs, and look cool as well as ultra flattering and subtle enough to befit the term "style staple".  

I trust Donna, so along I went to her Elizabeth Street store (London, SW1), and she gave me the treatment. Namely Donna hustled me into a changing room and then stood outside passing in jeans from labels I know about, but have never tried or worn. The first was MiH, or Made in Heaven, a British brand which is  the darling of fashionable women everywhere. The cut of the "Paris" jean was too square for me and made me look like I had bloky hips. Next she passed in leather J Brand jeans, which to my horror cost £875. They didn't fit me too well either. Apparently Donna sold 25 pairs of them the day they launched on the website. The other pair of J Brands I tried was the Jodphur, below, essentially a jean with a knee panel that flatters the leg shape. These were a contender until...

                                                            J Brand jodphur in burgundy, £265 

...Donna passed me in a pair of navy jeans by an Australian brand called Nobody out of Melbourne. I pulled them on, wriggled them up past my hips, zipped them up, and bejeezus if these were not the exact pair of my dreams! They instantly felt like a second skin, and did everything I needed them to do. I looked slim, leggy, with a feminine curved rear (not some flat shapeless butt), and I knew Donna had done it again. I would wholeheartedly recommend these jeans to everyone. I asked a  younger girlfriend with a very different body shape to me to try them on also,  and she loved them so much she went out the next day and bought some.

J Brand have got some competition at last. I would love to hear what your style staple jeans are. What jeans do you wear that always deliver and why?

Here's a film that follows the story of the Nobody jean factory in Melbourne.

I like how the factory is so oldschool. I wonder if the blokes behind Nobody know just how damn good their "Cult of Nobody" jeans is? With  a name like that, I guess they do.

I also tried on: