I went to the opening of the new Madewell store in Jacksonville recently, and it was an absolute blast. If you’re unfamiliar with Madewell, it’s owned by J. Crew and, though it has a similar vibe, I like to think of it as the sexier, less buttoned-up, slightly bohemian little sister. The brand hired a new Head of Design, Somsack Sikhounmuong, last year and he recently debuted his first collection for the label (q&a below.) It’s pretty fantastic—full of easy, breezy separates, comfortable dresses that would look great paired with Birkenstocks or booties; eyelet camisoles and chambray oxfords; and denim. Oh, the denim. Madewell is known for its jeans and for good reason—they are perfectly lived-in, baggy but not too big, and perfect for day or night. I practically live in denim so when they told me I could pick out any pair in the store (!), I knew I had a tough decision ahead of me.
Eventually, I settled on these—perfectly distressed and easy to dress up or down.
Now for the good stuff. Prior to the opening, I had a few questions for Somsack (who has a majorly enviable closet, I might add).
Your first collection for Madewell recently hit stores. Tell us a little about it—what was the inspiration? What are the standout pieces?
For spring we asked ourselves what items our woman couldn’t live without – what are those covetable pieces that make up or create the perfect closet. We honed in on items that would build out and complement an existing wardrobe; pieces that our woman would really live in. I am most inspired by the women I see on the street or in our office who approach dressing organically, with almost a tomboy sense of ease. Her pieces are curated, familiar, timeless and ultimately an authentic representation of who she is. There’s tailoring balanced with looseness, and a fresh, almost a sporty sense of proportion. In this collection, we layered in prints and textures collected from our travels abroad with a bit of that tailoring, denim and some leather to give it a little edge. With that in mind we created pieces that balance the timeless with the modern, the simple with the smart.
Jacksonville is a very denim-friendly town and Madewell is known for its denim. What are some easy ways to jazz up a jeans-and-tee-shirt ensemble?
This season we were drawn to the one–piece. Overalls, shorteralls and jumpsuits, you name it! If this is new territory for you, I suggest getting your feet wet with our classic park overalls. Wear them rolled with heels for a night out or with just your bathing suit to the beach.
What items should every woman own?
It sounds basic but you can’t go wrong with a perfect fitting pair of jeans and classic tee. Girl, guy, young, old—it should be your go-to.
What can we expect from Madewell in the future?
We will continue to build out our denim assortment. While continuing the tried and true pieces that we have become famous for, customers can expect new washes and fits as we move into fall.