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FEEL: The denim label getting sustainable with just one pair of jeans.

When Stevie Dance set about starting her new denim label, there was one factor at the top of her agenda; to create a pair of jeans that not only made you look good, but also did good for the planet. The Australian stylist and photographer is a self-confessed denim addict, but she’s also well aware of the social and environmental impact of blue jeans.

The Feel Studio Inc. — FEEL, for short — celebrates the roots and old-school appeal of genuine denim. The collection, which is defined by just one cut and wash, is the result of a four-year process of research and refinement. The jean was born out of Dance’s desire to simplify her wardrobe and create a fit that would cover all occasions.

Conscious of trend life-cycles and throwaway fashion culture, Dance wanted to ensure that FEEL arrived with a positive contribution to the fashion industry. A quick browse of the brand’s interactive website will inform you about Feel’s sustainable initiatives, whether that be low-impact washing, biodegradable packaging or its upcycling programme that turns offcuts into building insulation via the Blue Jeans Go Green initiative.

Another interesting aspect about The Feel Studio Inc. is its website, built entirely around the fit experience. There’s a 10-question fit guide — a pop quiz on everything from your measurements to denim preferences, and video testimonials from different women from across the line’s size range. Dance hopes to ease the chore of shopping for jeans online, and make it a more exciting and rewarding experience.

We caught up with Stevie to find out what it takes to craft the perfect pair of jeans, her love for old-school denim, and which stores are her favorite for picking up vintage treasures.

 

 The Feel Studio jeans are very much about true vintage denim style. What is it about the appeal of genuine denim that inspired you to create the brand?

I wanted to create a contemporary jean that delivered a denim offering in its most simple state. I like to think of truly great style as being practical at its foundation and nonchalant – base ingredients that then allow the sex appeal, beauty and allure of the individual to be revealed and communicated. Authentic denim has always been a great example of that. Same premise as a simple white t-shirt. You wear it, not the other way around. That’s what we wanted to really work on here at The Feel Studio Inc.

 

Was this something you felt that was missing from the market or were you struggling to find vintage jeans with that perfect fit?

I have always been a huge vintage denim lover, but what I found was missing was a sustainable, modern product I could rely on in the denim market. Zero effort to hunt for it, tailor it, or mend it and at a reasonable price. The hard thing about vintage denim is the wear and tear and unpredictable nature of it, which of course is the absolute beauty of it, too.

Too many times I’ve been working on set and had to tie a shirt around my waist because the ultimate vintage pair (that cost $500 and had been wonderfully upcycled) have blown out. I wanted a smart, straightforward pair of jeans that I could imprint with my own character, and I wanted to create that for other people whilst keeping it sustainable.

 

And sustainability is very much rooted in the ethos of the brand, right? You’re utilizing low impact washing, biodegradable packaging and other initiatives. Why is this approach so important for you and what has been the response from customers?

I said to myself from the start that I’d only pursue the jean dream if I could do it sustainably. Planet Earth is the most ultimate beauty of them all! We just wanted to do our best and pull our weight in whatever way we could,  so we did the research and took the time and the investment. Sustainability plays a huge part in our product offering being so specific.  We wanted to be sure the brand was thoughtful, helpful and clean. That too is a work in progress. We want to be better – where we are is just a start.

 

Fit is something else that is unique to the brand, especially the fun and easy questionnaire customers fill in on the website and the testimony videos. How did these tools come about?

My biggest dream with the jeans was that whenever someone interacted with the brand and ordered a pair –  they would fit them and feel great in them when they arrived. It takes some diligence by us and the consumer, but we built these tools to ensure this could happen.

We also have a customer service email that I personally partake in to give great tips and advice. So yes, we’e there to help in any way we can. Emailing is always an option too for size advice. The videos I feel are particularly helpful, especially with the sound on. They are all friends and family, with different bodies, talking genuinely about the jeans. We’re also constantly updating our data in the Fit Guide from our customer feedback trying to perfect the formula for finding your fit. Its a constant work in progress, but so far people have found it incredibly helpful.

 

Your collection is limited to just one fit, which is a confident and bold statement. Can you tell me a bit about the R&D process behind this pair?

I wanted to create a single, perfect jean that felt iconic and timeless – ones you could dress up or down. Ones you could wear in one size for a lean snug sexy fit, and buy in a size larger and have something more relaxed but with the same sense of character. Lots of people have been doing that –  buying two pairs in different sizes for different occasions.  Men have been buying them and wearing them one way and women the same pair in their own way. All of which, 3 weeks into going live, has been super fulfilling and inspiring to see.

Do you have plans to introduce more fits sometime soon? If so what would be the criteria to create another fit?

Right now, there is some special things being dreamed up, but it fits within our same ethos.

 

Finally, where is your favourite place to shop for vintage denim around the world and whats favourite pair of vintage jeans from your personal collection?

Hands down, it’s Ninth Street Haberdashery in New York. Meri and Stacey are the gurus.

 

 

In related news, read more on social responsibility in our latest Sustainable Denim Strategies report on the WGSN denim page.

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