SKINNY BOOT BLACK
Always on the hunt for the next great jean silhouette, Women’s Merchant Masako Konishi excitedly shows us the Skinny Boot in deep black. A self-professed “t-shirt and jeans girl,” she’s brought a global perspective to the basics, finding inspiration in the street styles of Japan and Europe. Collaborating with the 1969 designers, Masako’s take on premium denim is a focus on color, softer, flattering fabrics and fits, true to the heritage of 1969.
Masako’s job at 1969 combines a certain creativity with the responsibility of knowing what the Gap customer wants, how to get the right pieces into the store and to follow how well each design sells. No easy task. As a buyer for the 1969 stores in LA and NY, she uses a fashion editor’s savvy to highlight the 1969 designs with Gap t-shirts and other product. Her goal is to fill out the inventory in eye-catching and on-brand ways. The 1969 stores not only sell a handpicked version of the full Gap store, but also include exclusive pieces from England and Japan.
Back to the Skinny Boot, they feel like leggings due to the genius of the fabric – a featherweight super stretch denim. Masako points out the cut of the leg, which flares out only slightly. A finessed update on the traditional, wider boot cuts we saw and loved back in the 90s, the Skinny Boot style is more tailored, tighter in the hip and thigh for a sexier look.
A 5-pocket dense knit jean in a go-with-everything shade of olive, the Ponte puts a decidedly new spin on basic blue denim. We found the style to be the most diverse in the 1969 fall collection during our recent trip to Gap’s downtown L.A. denim studio. The style stays true to the line’s heritage of fit and fabric, while embracing the studio’s overall approach to design, as Rosella Giuliani, Creative Director of 1969, shared with us. 1969 “has a casual attitude to it, but with some sophistication. It’s not about young torn up jeans. It’s somewhat sophisticated, has a premium feel throughout, but it’s for everybody.”
Structured yet stretchy, this sexy legging-like jean is, as Marlo (Tech Designer for 1969) rightfully tells us, “the fashionista’s ideal pant.” We could easily imagine them dressed up or dressed down, with a simple tank or this seasons blingy sequined tops. The 1969 designers always have versatility in mind when they create, and the Ponte is no exception.
Rosella shared a few further insights into the 1969 design philosophy, “Overall great denim starts with great fabric. The details on it, the silhouette, it is all really important but unless you have a great fabric to start with it is not going to get you anywhere. We spent a lot of time selecting the right fabrics. You see the range of diversity in all of the products in the Beyond Blue line.” Speaking fondly of her hand-picked team of designers, she enthused about her Gap gig. Rosella developed the 1969 line (with Nicole King-Burroughs), and the concept studio, “It’s the perfect dream that I have always had, coming true. It was about having an atmosphere that you love to come into that you love to be in. We enjoy being here.”
High Rise Pintuck Trouser
The High Rise Pintuck Trouser is “the perfect example of pulling from the men’s world and bringing into the women’s world, making it sexy, and modern, and cool.” So says Nicole King-Burroughs, Director of Women’s Denim at the 1969 denim studio in L.A., and we couldn’t be bigger fans of this chic yet casual style.
During our visit to the Pico studio we got a chance to chat at length with Nicole, finding her enthusiasm for the brand infectious and her commitment to going “beyond blue” very clear. She designed the Cortez lightweight high-waisted pant with slant pockets, based on a 1940s menswear style. Paired with heels and worn floor length, her goal with the High Rise was to make the Gap customer (and herself) look longer and leaner and feel fantastic (Which explains Nicole’s penchant for drawing all her sketches with extra-long legs!)
Working with Rosella Giuliani to create the first 1969 jean, and to produce the first 1969 collection in 2000, Nicole jokingly tells us she believes she “was born and raised at the Gap.” What began as a capsule collection for Gap has grown with Nicole’s guidance into a lifestyle brand. The new High Rise Pintuck Trouser (and the much anticipated fall line) craftily combines tailored details with feminine silhouettes – and of course, true to the 1969 DNA, an amazing fit.
To say the folks at the 1969 studio are obsessed with denim is to put it mildly. When we visited Gap’s downtown workshop in Los Angeles, we happily learned that it’s no longer about blue (jeans) for the brand. Far from it, as the Gummy Sand proved, a standout in the fall line up that caught our curious eye. These sateen stretch jeans are sweetly sexy with a bit of swagger. Flattering on any figure, the new style is a testament to the 1969 heritage of fit and fabrication. Therein lies the ingenuity behind the1969 team, as one of it’s esteemed members Masako Konishi, merchandiser for women’s Gap 1969, told us, “A lot of what we do is take past successes but to make it new again.”
Set on defying the conventions of basic blue denim, the soft washed sand-colored Gummy is one of the studio’s most perfect creations. The inspired result of a collaborative studio environment filled with a bunch of denim-heads – the studio’s designers all honed their superlative skills at premium jeans companies before joining Gap. And the studio location in L.A. plays a big part in the creative process overall. Like the sunset over Venice Beach, the 1969 vibe overall is relaxed and fun, and totally genuine.
“We are making clothes that we would want to wear ourselves. We always help each other step back and make sure we feel we are creating great clothes.” Including the Gummy, just one in a new wave of Gap denim that is reinventing the tried-and-true and making it cool again. Moving with her, never against, and hugging her curves in all the right places, the Gummy Sand really is a girl’s best friend.