J Brand's Donald Oliver: Denim Dos & Don'ts
By Julien Sauvalle
Since relaunching five years ago, J Brand’s jeans have become a favorite of celebs like Taylor Lautner and Jake Gyllenhaal. Here, creative director Donald Oliver shares his expertise.
What’s your creative process?
Vintage research is a must, but at J Brand we approach it as a starting point. Our aim is to create something modern and authentic, not a vintage duplicate. We also watch what women and men wear around the globe.
What should one consider when looking for the perfect pair of jeans?
Try more than one fit— take a few pairs into the dressing room, walk around in them, and try to sit down. If you like the way you look and feel in them, you’ve found the perfect pair.
Is there a way to shrink denim or alter it yourself to make it fit better?
There is no way to have denim shrink to your body. Denim does shrink when washed, but it also gives after a few wears. Wear jeans a few times and they will shape to your body. That’s the beauty of denim—it gets better with age.
How do you make a pair of jeans last?
I don’t wash my jeans if I want them to stay dark. But even this advice isn’t foolproof, as indigo is, by nature, going to age. There are ways to slow that aging process down, like dry cleaning. And if you have to wash your jeans, wash them inside out. Really, though, just enjoy the journey the jean takes with you.
When it comes to denim, who is your ultimate style icon?
There are the obvious ones—James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Robert Redford—but I think perhaps it would have to be the boys in the movie The Outsiders. Hedi Slimane’s photographs of the band the Drums are also an amazing inspiration.
How skinny should skinny jeans be?
I love them if you can wear them a little looser, not so skintight. There’s nothing worse than looking like a sausage.
What are your thoughts on a Canadian tuxedo?
Love, love, love it. But I think it has to be worn with a tough boot and a rolled-up cuff, with the buttons done all the way up. Also, the denims have to somewhat match.
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