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Posted by The E on July 29, 2011
Pick up any fashion magazine and you’re likely to find a feature that was shot at a private residence somewhere in the hills of Los Angeles. Maybe it was shot at a celebrity’s own home, or it’s an empty space looking for a bit of PR exposure, or maybe it’s one of the many LA homes designed by a famous architect like Frank Lloyd Wright or John Lautner. Between the canyon vistas, city lights, and expansive pooldecks, it’s a look that every photo editor has wanted at some point.
Our last look book shoot was inside an industrial loft. With floor to ceiling windows, wood slats, bricks and cement floors, it lended the Fall 2011 line a definite New York vibe. For spring, we’re bringing it back to Los Angeles, and it’s our turn to try the home in the hills look. A few scouting visits turned up a beautifully maintained 1920’s Spanish style home in Pacific Palisades overlooking the ocean. The stepped gardens, trellises, stone stairways, benches, koi ponds, archways, and stucco surfaces offered exactly the greenery and texture we wanted to complement the spring line.
We got started in hair and makeup early, before jumping right into the shoot. Because we only make denim, we take a lot of time before the shoot to select tops, shoes and accessories that highlight the best features of the jeans. For example, if we’re showing a high waisted trouser, we can’t pair it with a long shirt or the photo won’t show off the height of the rise. For the most part, looks are preselected and arranged on rolling racks so they are ready to go and help the shoot move quickly.
One of the major concerns with shooting outside is lighting. You’re racing to get everything finished before the sun goes down, and styling, changing into and shooting 21 looks in one day makes for a tight schedule. Also, direct sunlight can make for really harsh lighting. Luckily a thin ocean layer rolled in towards the afternoon and created a brilliant soft light.
First priority during the look book shoot was to capture the core product shots we needed for the look book, a vital tool for sales and publicity which needs to show off the best pieces in the line. Things worked very smoothly and we finished all the shots we needed for the look book by 5:00PM, which left some time to have some fun. As our photographer Tamara joked, “we went from selling product to selling sex”. We shot edgier looks with more artistic blocking and camera settings to capture additional photography for promotional use, advertising, or even the look book itself.
As expected, casting worked out perfectly; Angelika was fun to have on set, and knew exactly how to show the clothes. We even snuck in a couple of shots of her tattoo, a small Maltese cross on her back - the exact same shape as the HABITUAL Glory pocket. Back in the office, as we’ve started to review the shots, the raw images are so strong we are realizing we won’t need to do much editing in post at all. We can’t wait to send the final Spring 2012 look book off to the printers in a few days.
Posted by The E on July 25, 2011
The HABITUAL Spring 2012 line is nearly finished, and we’ve just selected a model for the new lookbook shoot. It takes a bit of vision and a lot of work to find the girl that will embody the look of the brand for a whole season, and that’s why model casting is a crucial part of the fashion business. In the case of HABITUAL, we don’t hire tons of different models each year for multiple campaigns and runway shows, we do only a couple of shoots per year, and we have to be very particular to pick the model that best reflects the style and feel of the line.
The first step to casting a model is figuring out basic requirements. In general, we have a specific size that we know works best for our samples. We can’t select someone who is too thin because they have to show off the shape of the denim. Of course, the girl you want has to be LA-based and available on the shoot date.
We also have to keep in mind the budget. Every model has a different day rate. In general, new faces are less expensive than the seasoned girls. Sometimes having a great photographer can get you a more experienced model for a lower fee. You also have to consider usage rights – in this case, we are using the shots for the lookbook, our own website, PR, and potentially even some advertising. Broader usage rights translate into a bigger fee.
Next you have to think about the look of the model – who is the HABITUAL girl, and what look are we going for with this season’s line? For the spring shoot, we were looking for a brunette with longer hair and a bit of edge and mystery to her. Even though we are based in LA, we were not really looking for the bubbly blonde Southern California girl. Our celeb inspirations included the Natalie Portman, Emmanuelle Chriqui and, Zooey Deschanel style of brunette. She’s not the reality star, but someone who is genuinely talented and has some substance and character.
You might have also worked with a model previously. We hired someone as a window model at an event earlier in the year, we were really impressed with her work ethic, and so we called her back to the casting for the shoot.
Based on these requirements, we’ll narrow it down and look at the portfolios of a few dozen girls from different modeling agencies. In the old days, we used to have to tell the agency what we were looking for, and then they would messenger over physical portfolios of the girls they thought were the best fit. Now, thanks to the web, we have access to thousands of portfolios instantly. We’ll end up reaching out to three or four LA agencies with whom we have relationships and invite less than ten girls to the live casting.
During the actual casting, it’s not all about the pretty face. First and foremost the model has to look great in the denim and the denim needs to look great on her. She has to know how to move, how to work the camera, and how to show off the best features of a particular look. There is a skill to modeling, and that experience and skill is why why some models are better to work with and command a higher fee.
Beyond aesthetics and skill, perhaps one of the most important considerations is attitude. Even if a girl takes amazing pictures, you have to spend a whole day or more with this person. You need someone that can handle switching looks all day long, without complaining. Bad attitudes can upset the dynamic on location and even hurt the quality of the images. In casting, we try to ask the models basic questions to see if they are engaging, funny, interesting, and animated.
Finally, we like them to know a bit about denim. Do they wear denim? Do they know the difference between a crop, a skinny, and a trouser? What are their favorite brands? We hope this will help them appreciate the clothes and believe in the product and really “sell it” during the shoot.
For Spring 2012, we selected Angelika from Photogenics Agency. We knew we picked the right model when she came in for a second time and we found out she has a tattoo of a Maltese Cross – exactly the same shape as the HABITUAL Glory pocket. We could not even believe the coincidence.
Posted by The E on July 21, 2011
We just returned from a trip to Paris, where we spotted (and took home) one of the new aluminum Coke Light bottles designed by Karl Lagerfeld. There are three designs, each complete with Lagerfeld’s name and famous silhouette on the side. This is the second Coca Cola collaboration for Lagerfeld, after he designed a single bottle last year. Talk about a brand advocate – when Lagerfled lost 90 pounds in 2001, he reportedly consumed nothing but Diet Coke and stewed vegetables, and he still says “I drink Diet Coke and nothing else, night and day”. The bottles went on sale in June, and are also part of an advertising campaign for Coke, featuring Coco Rocha, Jeneil Williams and Heidi Mount. You can also find Diet Coke versions here in the States.
In addition to designing for Chanel, Fendi, and his own label, Lagerfeld has been keeping quite busy; he just announced he’ll be doing a capsule collection for Macy’s.
Posted by The E on July 20, 2011
We loved this recent look from the always comfortable Editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt (whose French Vogue is covered this month by Dutch model Lara Stone). Emmanuelle has transformed her skinny jeans into cropped jeans simply by rolling them up a few inches. It’s easy to forget little tricks like these that will get you more mileage out of your denim, add a relaxed feel to your summer look, and even draw some attention to the new shoes you just bought. About the roll – try not to be too clean about it, a haphazard roll is more laid back than an even fold. It is summer after all. This one is not just for the ladies, either, we’ve seen a lot of men adding a cuff to their jeans, too.
Tip: We can take another style cue from Emmanuelle here by looking at her accessories. What accessory you ask? That would be her confidence, of course.
Get the look:
Top: Organic by Jon Patrick Raw Hem Oxford Shirt
Jeans: HABITUAL Audrey Legging in Hotness available at American Rag
Belt: Linea Pelle Twisted Braid Hip Belt
Flats: TopShop Malachy3 Black Ballet Pumps
Posted by The E on July 19, 2011
There isn’t much that gets us more excited than talking to people. It’s just part of our personality. So we’re embracing our talkative side by introducing a new series called “5* Questions”, an ongoing feature where we ask some of our favorite denimheads, media personalities, and even celebs about their personal style, hidden talents, and of course their daily habits.
So who is first? None other than our own Jennifer Wojinski, Design Director for HABITUAL. In the design world, you’ll have a tough time finding someone who knows more about denim. She developed a particular fondness for vintage denim and Levi’s in her early 20′s, while part owner of a vintage clothing shop. She studied art history at Sonoma State University before going on to complete a fashion degree at FIDM. Jennifer has spent her whole design career in the jeans business, and comes to HABITUAL after stints at LEI, True Religion, Juicy Couture, William Rast and Dylan George. She grew up in Humboldt County, outside San Francisco.
*It’s actually seven. The fifth question is a two-parter and we will always have a bonus question.
New York or Los Angeles, and why?
Los Angeles, of course! I love visiting New York - amazing vibe, culture, food and people, but in Los Angeles I feel more at home, closer to nature and I can catch my breath even when it’s hectic.
Give us a sense of your personal style?
Right now it’s kind of ‘grungy goth’… lots of black, slouchy layers, and I always wear boots. I’m a child of the 90′s.
You’re best known for your work in fashion design, but what do you consider your greatest talent?
Pig training! I grew up in the country, raised animals and my favorite animals were my pigs. I had to train them in order to show and sell them at the local county fair. I bought my first car with my pig cash at the age of 15.
What’s your daily habit?
5am coffee and exercise: gym, yoga or a walk.
What’s one thing in your closet you could never give up? And what’s your go-to piece in the closet right now?
I could never give up my 70′s scallop patchwork leather jacket. My go to pieces right now are actually shoes, my Dr. Martens or my black bumper booties from Opening Ceremony.
BONUS: James Bond or Jason Bourne?
Posted by The E on July 18, 2011
You already know where the HABITUAL “Glory” pocket comes from, so we thought you might like to see how they are made. It’s a multi-step process as a series of skilled workers cut the cross out, attach it to lining, sew it onto a pocket, and finally fix it to the leg of the pair of jeans. Because every Glory pocket is hand-made, each one is unique to your pair of jeans. Along with the classic Glory pocket you see in this video, other versions of the design, such as distressed or studded Glory pockets, can require additional steps and even more hands-on craftmanship.
Have a look inside the LA factory to see how we take ordinary cloth and turn it into the Maltese cross pattern that decorates the back pocket of many HABITUAL denim designs.
Posted by The E on July 15, 2011
By now everyone in LA (and the rest of the country for that matter) has heard about ‘Carmageddon’, this weekend’s closure of the 405 Freeway between the 101 Freeway in the Valley and the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles. We don’t even know why it’s happening (something about drilling holes in a bridge or two?), but it is supposed to be bad, like hide your kids, hide your wives bad. It’s even become a bit of a pop culture parody, with sites like car-mageddon.com showing where to get deals in your local neighborhood, and fast-moving retailers creating a slew of novelty merchandise.
For the first time in a long time, we might actually keep the car in the garage this weekend (hoping to finish the shopping for our upcoming shoot by the end of the day), and that means we’ll either have to stay home or (gasp!) walk around our neighborhoods for a change. For those of you who will brave the outdoors on foot this weekend, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite local LA shops in each neighborhood.
Hollywood – American Rag – 150 S. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
This is a mainstay of the LA shopping scene. American Rag features clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, and even home decor items, all carefully selected by a team of buyers led by founder Mark Werts. From top global designers to niche lines, it’s hard to leave here empty-handed. Look for HABITUAL among the enormous selection of jeans in the World Denim Bar.
West Hollywood – OPENING CEREMONY – 451 N. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048
This is the queen royal of specialty stores in Los Angeles. The shop is a series of rooms, a department store in itself, some of them dedicated to specific designers like Nom de Guerre and Topshop, laid out to make the shopper feel like they are driving on LA’s freeway system. O.C. is also known for its eclectic but orginal take on merchandising and décor – just google their Tokyo outpost.
West LA – Hip’tique – 2727 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405
We don’t know why you’d be shopping when you live close enough to walk to the beach (supposed to be nice this weekend), but if the sun becomes too much, walk down Main Street to an airy, hip boutique called… Hip’tique. Perfect for beach wear, day dresses from DVF and others, bath and body products, and even work from local artists. Maybe it’s better to stop before you set out your beach chair. You can find several HABITUAL styles here, as well.
Pasadena – Gold Bug - 22 E. Union St. Pasadena, CA 91103
This new store in Pasadena is one of the coolest we’ve ever been to. It’s a bit dark and witchy, but a must visit. Think diamonds hanging off of spider sculptures, pressed butterflies and bug specimens on framed canvases, bronze and pewter casted animal skull paperweights, iodized scarabs, Alice in Wonderland shadow boxes with gemstones, alchemy bottles made into chandeliers. It’s more of an experience than a store. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, there is a line just to get inside. It reminds us a little bit of EvolutionNYC in Soho, but it brings nature-as-décor to whole new level.
Silverlake – Vivier + Bentley – 1404 Micheltorena St. Los Angeles, CA 90026
This is a joint shopping and studio space in Silver Lake owned by LA hangbag maker Clare Vivier and jewelry designer Kathryn Bentley. Both lines favor a luxe, clean look (sound familiar?). The small shop also features pottery from local artists Heather Levine and Victoria Morris and leather shoes from LA designer Beatrice Valenzuela. If you are a fan of Vivier’s utilitarian, hip designs, this is the place to find her one-of-a-kind items that aren’t sold online or in other stores.
For more local shopping ideas, see Racked LA’s Racked 38, a roundup of their favorite stores in the area.
Posted by The E on July 13, 2011
We recently received a lovely thank you note from a fan saying that our maternity jeans look great with heels. It revives the age old question: do all the stylish expectant moms out there (and there are so many of you) still like to add a little height in the 9 month journey to motherhood?
We have found that some women like only to be as comfortable as possible, choosing stretchy, forgiving attire and flat shoes, while others won’t sacrifice their fashion sensibility for even a trimester. It’s sort of like the doctor’s advice about running when you are pregnant – you should remain a runner if you have always been a runner. You don’t have to change who you are just because you are pregnant. Would you even recognize Victoria Beckham if she wasn’t wearing her remarkably high heels?
So the simple conclusion is, if you loved being in four inch Manolos before, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be in them when you’re expecting. If it becomes too much, you can always go down an inch or two.
Posted by The E on July 8, 2011
The Royal couple is arriving shortly in LA, and we are really curious to see what they’ll wear. When she’s not in McQueen or Temperley, Kate Middleton - now Princess Catherine - does occasionally wear denim with a simple top or blazer. But Prince William in jeans is a much rarer sight; when not wearing a full suit, he will usually opt for khakis. We know they have a black tie event in Hollywood tomorrow night, but that still leaves plenty of time for them to sport a casual look in the city so well known for its denim culture. We think the Queen would approve!
Posted by The E on July 7, 2011
We’ve been fans of the salted caramel craze for a while. The funny thing is, the flavor combo usually comes in the form of a salted caramel bar, salted caramel cupcake, salted caramel ice cream, latte, pot de crème – never as a true “caramel”, the way caramels were intended.
Now CC Made offers artisanal salted caramel candies, wrapped up the way they used to do it, in a no-fuss sheet of cellophane. They offer three flavors: Bitter Sea Salt, for those who like a bitter edge to their snacks, Madagascar Vanilla, for those with a sweet tooth, and Himalayan Pink Salt, for those that like to strike a balance. Each flavor is blended with a base of cream, sugar and corn syrup.
The company is operated by Cassandra Chen (CC), who developed the original recipes, and her cousin Emily Hou, who is responsible for their fun package design. CC Made was born after the pair decided to bring the sweets outside of the family and into the general marketplace. The caramels are also reasonably priced at about 50 cents each - penny candy in the age of the foodie.