CHLOE LONSDALE DESIGNS MODERN DENIM REMINISCENT OF THE PAST
For Chloe Lonsdale, founder and chief creative officer of the brand M.i.h Jeans, denim is an element that has been a constant presence her whole life. She is the daughter of the ‘Blue Jean King’ Tony Lonsdale, founder of the Jean Machine stores, and Chekkie Lonsdale, a 1970’s jeans model. And it was her Godfather who, back in 1969, originally started M.i.h, then named Made in heaven. Taking this into account and combining it with an early interest in fashion, her decision to re-launch the company 13 years ago comes as no surprise. “I always knew I wanted to be a part of the fashion industry and denim was the natural direction for me to take. We had such an amazing archive of 70s M.i.h Jeans that it would have been a shame not to bring it back into production. I wanted to create the perfect pair of authentic jeans, jeans with minimal detailing in flattering cuts and authentic washes.”
The brand is now launching a new capsule collection, ‘Marrakesh 1971’, to celebrate the importance of 1971 to the brand; it’s the year Chloe’s father imported the first flares into the UK and sold them in his store, and the year Made in Heaven designed the first British-made flares, also firsts in Europe. Her approach and motivations to re-start the brand come from a very different place than her predecessors though, as she explains it; “My father started in denim opportunistically, seeing all the young people in the 60s and 70s on the West Coast of the US wearing jeans, and realising that there was nowhere to buy them in the UK. My realisation was different, as you certainly could buy jeans in the UK when I started M.i.h, but not the kind of jeans I loved, and definitely not jeans designed by women for women. I love jeans to feel ‘real’, to have care and attention paid to every part of the process, and to be effortless. I work very hard to keep every jean simple but perfect, and I try on every fit throughout the process to make sure it’s giving the right attitude and feel.”
1971 was also the start of an incredible decade, where the rebellious youth chose jeans as their attire while they continued to push boundaries and fight for what they believed in, a spirit and attitude that ‘1971 Marrakesh’ seeks to reflect. Although the jeans of the seventies were unisex and democratic, when asked about women and their relationship with this garment Chloe states that “I think women are just starting to take charge of their own jeans today. For the first time I see other jeans brands founded and run by women, and while denim has always been quite a boys’ club, I see more women working with denim now than ever before’. What women expect from jeans nowadays has also shifted, as ‘the jeans of the 70s didn’t have any stretch, and they often weren’t washed, so the fit was very hit and miss. These days women expect everything of their jeans – a perfect fit, the right amount of stretch, and something that matches their personal style.”
In an industry as fast paced as fashion, were trends come and go in the blink of an eye, denim has definitely managed to stand the test of time and prevailed as a wardrobe staple. “It always surprises me how little denim changes, or how little it takes to make it feel right again. The Marrakesh 1971 flare is almost identical to the archive piece we have; the biggest difference is size – the jeans of the 70s were pretty tight!”
With the series Women Who Create, Material Magazine is looking to highlight women from a variety of professions and passions that use their unique talents to carve out a space for themselves and their art in our cultural landscape.