I love picking up nuggets of denim gossip. This week I got a great little piece of goss that I wanted to share with you: legendary American 80’s denim brand Jordache is coming back! And its everything you would hope it to be. The mystery man behind the re-brand is Benjamin Talley Smith, a seasoned denim designer with nearly 20 years experience working with some of the coolest names at the coolest moments in the business: Alexander Wang, 3×1, Rag and Bone, Helmut Lang, Marc Jacobs, Re-Done and Everlane being just a few of them. I bumped into him at an event last Sunday and 3 mins later he had me squealing with excitement at the shoots and videos he was showing me on his phone. Stand by because this news is so hot that I can’t even share that stuff with you yet. Word has it that will drop next week. For now I can share some initial lookbook images and some exclusive, behind the scenes photos from Benjamin’s design journey.

Those back pockets….

I asked him a few questions about the project, what we can expect over the next few weeks and about the future of this legendary 80’s brand:

Amy – How did you meet the Jordache family and what were their wishes for this collection?
BTS – I was brought into Jordache by a company called Angora group. They partnered with me on development, giving me freedom to design a collection as I saw fit. I met with the Jordache family, who are visionaries in there own right, to review the archive and speak about my past and the direction I saw for the iconic brand. They had no parameters for me other than maintaining the original DNA. They really gave me complete freedom, using my own factories, fabrics, and design direction.
Amy – Thats a pretty rare treat for a designer, isn’t it?
BTS – Yes it was great. I think they saw that I had designed for so many denim relevant brands that they trusted me to just go with it. It was refreshing and fun to have that much autonomy.
Amy – How long has the brand been dormant?
BTS – Jordache was originally founded in 1978 and had a huge, cult following in its hey day. But the brand has been in and out of the market for the last 10 years, mainly in Walmart. Nothing like this has ever been done with the brand; this is the first premium collection so its a whole new ball-game.
Amy – So tell me what you did!
BTS – The brand has such a fantastic history and was an innovator in denim trend, fit and branding throughout the 80’s and 90’s, so it was an easy jump off point. I wanted to bring a new modern approach to the brand and set up a premium sourcing base in LA. I’ve designed for a lot of premium brands over the years like Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang and Re/done so I wanted the relaunch to be a higher level of quality and at a higher price point.
The horse iconography

 

I drew inspiration from their archives, drawing on the iconic high rise slim as a block that Jordache was always know for. I also added a more modern fit based on a vintage crop jean in rigid as well as an oversized jacket, shrunken jacket and iconic duster. I maintained some traditional branding by keeping the classic horse embroidery on some of the coin pockets and used the original ‘Omega’ back pocket design.
I pushed the collection by adding some modern details like a 3M reflective logo on sweatshirts and jackets as well as adding blue plastic PVC to the back pocket of a vintage style. I played with a mix of heritage inspiration with modern detailing. I also brought in a Japanese logo Jacquard and some rigid cone denim.
The Jordache Japanese Jacquard
The reflective logo

 

Amy – Tell me more about the horse theme running through the collection and that amazing jacquard…
BTS – Well Jordache has always used the horse icon as its logo and some of the first controversial ad’s were topless models on horses but thats about the extent of it. However, I loved all this and wanted to push the horse theme but in a more modern way. I wanted to create a logo print but ended up going with the full logo jacquard instead. For the second collection we have two additional full logo prints as well.
When I look at the collection it feels reminiscent of other hot brands from say the 80’s and 90’s: Brook Shields in her Calvins, Fiorucci Jeans, Versace Jeans, etc. Interestingly all these jeanswear names are making a comeback: right time, right place?
BTS- Yes I think that’s what drew me to the project. The relaunch or renewed interest in brands from the 80’s and 90’s. Jordache has such a great name and really pioneered the “sexy” jean. It just made sense to bring it back.
Amy – Would you say this 90’s, slightly trashy, ostentatious look is one of the stronger trends hitting the youth market right now?
BTS- Yes I see it. I tried to elevate the collection a little more. We are launching at Barney’s so I wanted it to have that youthful energy but to feel a little more grown up. It will then roll out to Kith, Brown’s in London and Hudson Bay. We want to get people excited about the brand in a new way and grow from there.
Amy – Finally, tell me more about those amazing images you’ve shown me but its too soon to share on here!
BTS – We shot the first campaign that you will see around LA and NY in the upcoming days. It was shot by Brianna Capozzi, styled by Carine Roitfeld, founder and editor-in-chief of the CR Fashion Book and produced by CR Studios. Our model was actress Camila Marrone. Watch this space.

The collection is manufactured in Los Angeles using the highest quality fabrics available and will feature jeans ($210-300), jackets ($350-$650), graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts ($100-$300) It will launch exclusively in the U.S. at Barney’s and KITH and at select specialty stores around the globe.

Pattern pieces from the collection, curtesy of Benjamin