More denim goodness in the form of an interview with Melissa Clement, founder of just-launched British denim brand Bethnals…
Introduced to Melissa at LFW – Bethnals hosted a blogger denim suite at The Apartment in collaboration with denim fabric producer iSKO where I tried on the coolest slouchy boyfriends – I completely fell for the denim, the concept and the lady and just had to follow up with a few questions. Melissa, a former buyer at Topshop and Kickstarter crowd-funding success story, shares her thoughts on the skinny, timeless style, the ‘London Uniform’, choosing stretch denim and naming her styles…
What inspired you to start a denim brand?
I used to work on the buying floor of Topshop – having worked my way up through the ranks, and finally I left as the Senior Buyer on the Jeans & Denim department. Working for such an established retail giant has its advantages. The training of all aspects of the job, the exposure and, of course, the desire to be first to market is instilled in you every day.
I had so many great years at Topshop, but finally the time came to move forward. I was personally a little tired of the never-slowing fashion cycle. Trend after trend that keeps the customers buying more and more. I have always been very casual in my style, opting for my boyfriends jumper and jeans. My colour palette of black, navy, white and denim is something my friends mock me for… The realisation hit that I am sure there are more people out there looking for timeless clothes that will last. Throw in my passion for denim and here I am. Bethnals is a London-born unisex denim brand, think fuss free staples that will see you beyond the season ahead.
What do you think women are looking for in their denim at the moment?
There is much discussion in the industry of how long the skinny silhouette will last. But, let’s not forget, it actually took the world a good 3/4 years to progress to a skinny fit, so I cannot see it falling off a cliff in an instant. The skinny jean is now a life staple, it will stay in your wardrobe and will be your fail safe, go to jean. It’s the other silhouettes that are flash in the pan now. The catwalks so far for SS15 seem to have a nostalgic 70’s vibe with lots of wide legs and flares, so I would expect the high street next year to have more on offer in this shape.
What style and wash do you wear yourself?
Personally I am loving a straight fit. True comfort stretch denim like our Joey slim straight cut just above the ankle unrolled. Or… my boyfriends Acne Selvedge, if I am having a day off being loyal to my jeans!
What is your dream for the brand?
I would love to keep Bethnals relatively small, I am not that ambitious. It’s important to grow the business of course, but I also want to keep the integrity and the quality of the product. That is what is important and what will hopefully build loyal customers to always come to Bethnals for their jeans. Discover something new. London is not known for its denim brands, unlike Scandinavia or America, but Londoners are ahead of the fashion pack in many ways, with our individual, thrown together, casual style – we need a denim brand to emulate the London Uniform. Hopefully this is what Bethnals will achieve.
Any top tips for choosing the right style, washing and caring for your denim?
Too many tips…! Ummm.. Ok, black skinny jeans – before you try them on give them a tug and see if the fabric pings back. The stretch denim market is so saturated and there are very differing levels of quality to a stretch jeans. The leading mills have been developing and improving the construction to ensure the fabric retains it shape (i.e. –does not bag at knee or generally grow when wearing). We want our skinny jeans to be tight and so put a lot of pressure on them – you need a ‘power’ stretch that will last. If, before trying, you tug on the fabric and it does not ping back, don’t bother trying them on. Find another pair.
Washing your black jeans – if you want to keep them jet black wash inside out. If you really hate them when they fade, instead of going out to buy another pair just buy some black dye from John Lewis and give them a colour top up. It’s much cheaper and you get to keep your favourite jeans.
Images (above & below) from the Bethnals AW14 lookbook
And what’s in store for your first collection?
For AW14, we were concentrating on the core essentials so we only have 3 fits: SKINNY, STRAIGHT, RELAXED. All come in black and clean indigo. Prices are £75 for core or you can upgrade to Selvedge for £125! I also have shirts, tee shirts and a worker jacket for this season.
You named one of your designs after your cat Murphy, any other stories behind some of the styles’ names we should know about?
Actually all of the Bethnals product is named after someone in my family! My poor Dad got named after socks! But… they are pretty cool stripy ones.
There are socks too?!
Actually Erin (Ed’s note: Erin McQueen of Bad Denim) has ordered some socks! They are made in England chunky stripy, very on brand!
A huge thanks to Melissa for her lovely answers and now, you ask, where to buy?
Bethnals will be dropping first at east London’s Bad Denim on October 9 (check my recent visit to this awesome denim boutique) and then the Bethnals website will be launching October 15. A pop-up at Boxpark, Shoredith on November 10, followed by stock dropping at menswear boutique Number Six in Spitalfields mid-November. Race you!
Now check out these photos from the Bethnals x iSKO collaboration during LFW… Spools, tools and button heaven!
Blogger initials being sewn into a pair of Bethnals jeans at The Apartment suite
Want this button shelving soooo bad!