Premium denim brand Paper Denim & Cloth had a cult following in the aughts, and fans were devastated when the label ceased production in recent years. For Spring 2013, however, the brand is staging a big relaunch that has the fashion industry buzzing.
Those who were enraptured by the initial days of PD&C will be enthusiastic to see the label’s return, this time with a full clothing collection that includes its signature denim cuts. Naturally, the brand will probably accumulate new fans that didn’t experience the first years of Paper Denim bliss.
We sat down with co-founder Alex Gilbert Gaines and creative director Chantel Valentene to get an inside look into PD&C’s relaunch.
StyleCaster: Could you talk a little bit about the relaunch of Paper Denim & Cloth?
Chantel: The goal for the collection is to give people access to attainable luxury and basics that have been well-thought out and have an ease and effortless feel to them. Even with our shirting, T-shirts and tailoring, we’re thinking about the idea of getting dressed quickly in the morning in a way that you’re not [overthinking] it. That’s our goal. Denim is an easy piece in the closet and we want everything to reflect that same story and that same kind of feel.
SC: Why did you decide to bring the brand back?
Chantel: We brought the brand back because we felt that it was unfulfilled. Paper is a great brand, but it never got to live up to its name. Coming back now with a full collection, we are able to tell a complete story — we are able to fulfill the name. The name is Paper Denim & Cloth for a reason; we wanted to have an “and cloth.” We never had an “and cloth,” so now we do.
SC: What was the inspiration for the Spring 2013 collection? We know you have a specific color story for the tees; where did that come from?
Chantel: We think a lot about washing your denim and about the creation of that product. It’s symbiotic with our nature as denim people. [One day] we came across a piece of artwork called The Great Wave — it’s a Japanese painting of a huge, beautiful navy wave and a peach background … It was so beautiful that we pulled the colors right from that painting. We wanted to speak to the customer in a sense that it was something that didn’t feel egregious or hard to wear. That painting is so easy on the eyes — so beautiful and so rooted in blue. Being a company of denim, we’re obviously rooted in blue, so all the colors started from there.
SC: Your relaunch is really focused on being an accessible brand, such as with the Instagram shoot.
Alex: When we launched originally with Paper, I just stapled Polaroids to a piece of paper and sent them to all the stores. So, in that vein, we did the modern version of Polaroids as Instagram. It’s real-time dialogue with people, fans and customers. We want that dialogue with our customers; we want to hear their feedback.
Chantel: It’s invaluable to know what somebody feels. We want to know what people are thinking when they’re putting on the clothing. Personal style is about personality; we need to know the personalities who are wearing it. What is most important for us is connecting with the people who are wearing the clothing.
SC: Where do you want to take the brand? What are your goals with the re-launch?
Chantel: I think our goal is to really give the customer a place to go for clothing that speaks to them and is easy to wear, where it’s not us dictating to them what we want their style to be. We first think about the person who’s wearing the clothing, not just our story.
Alex: We are creating this line for women and men with strong senses of who they are, and who want easy dressing that’s very understated and timeless. We’re not about trends — we’re really more about style. Our goal is to get into all of the top retailers that we were in before and to grow our e-commerce business. We would like to open brick-and-mortar in about 18 months to 2 years. And then, as a mom, I want to do a kids’ line — a mini-me version of the collection. When we first started Paper we had Baby Paper, but I think in the same vein of growing this into a collection we want to launch a little kids’ business too.
Chantel: We have models in-house already!
Alex: I would love to be able to put my kids in it … We can’t sell jeans for kids that are $120, so we would be more attainable than that but with the same exact vibe.
SC: What’s your price point for this collection? What kind of customer are you geared towards?
Chantel: Our price point sits right at a contemporary — although I hate that word — [level]. The denim starts at $165 and goes up to $200 or $230. The silk shirting sits at about $200 depending on the style. It’s accessible and attainable luxury, in a sense that we’re using amazing fabrics and amazing yarns … but customers are not going to break the bank on it. You’re still getting a really good-quality jean and a good-quality sportswear collection.
SC: On a more personal note, fall is coming up. What will you be wearing in terms of denim and fall basics?
Chantel: I’m styling our River wash — it’s our beat-up, messy wash — with some vintage Ann Demeulemeester heels that I love. And I’m hoping to buy a new pair of Celine shoes! For fall, it’s all about the same principle of easy dressing. I’m wearing things that are really simple: go-to sweaters, go-to t-shirts, go-to jeans and nice accessories. We’re backwards! Easy clothing, fancy accessories. That’s the way we work.
Alex: I want the ICN fit, which is a really easy, slouchy fit. I’ll also wear the FOX, which is the cropped jean, with boots or heels. I like to wear it where it hits the ankle. And I want a menswear-inspired coat and some Rick Owens boots.
SC: Is there anything else you want the StyleCaster reader to know about the collection?
Alex: We’re just super excited to see people walking on the street in it. We really feel like we’re offering a collection that’s easy and understated. It’s easy to dress for yourself and make your own. We’re excited to see how women and men style it.
Chantel: Communicating with the people who are wearing the brand is so important. We had the Instagram shoot, and we’re also going to be offering merchandise that is [only available on our website]. With StyleCaster, we’re communicating with the people who can buy online, [who also] have communication directly with the brand. The brand is us. They can call or e-mail us from the website and we answer their questions directly. We like to talk to the people who are wearing the clothing. StyleCaster readers get that; they understand what the modern version of shopping is and [where it’s headed].