Our interview with Vanessa Traina, Morgan Wendelborn, and Kate Wendelborn (the two are sisters) took place on a bed – possibly the most comfortable bed ever – in the “bedroom” of Vanessa (above left) and Morgan’s (above center) new Manhattan showroom, The Apartment, where everything you see, from the Las Venus midnight-blue tufted velvet sofa in the “living room,” to the “bathroom’s” Sachajuan and Rodin products, to the Mansur Gavriel bags in the chic “closet” (not to mention that dreamy bed and bedding!) is available for purchase. It goes hand-in-hand with The Line, their e-commerce site; You can visit The Apartment to see in person the fashion, home, and beauty items found on The Line.com.
The three lounged on the bed, very cozy, yet very cool, in sweaters and jeans. And we talked about those jeans – a recent collaboration with 3×1 (a Jean Stories favorite), whose SoHo headquarters and store happen to be just a few blocks away from The Apartment. For fall/winter, Vanessa and Kate (above right), who designs the collection The Protagonist (available through The Line and the Apartment), created a straight-leg selvedge jean that has us re-thinking our whole denim wardrobes (not to mention the general assumption that raw denim can’t be worn with, say, sexy Céline stilettos). The Line x 3×1 comes in black and in dark blue, and it proves that a classic men’s style jean can be ultra-flattering on women, too. We’ll let them explain…
So, how did this you design this style?
Vanessa: It’s an existing 3×1 men’s style. The M3.
What tweaks, if any, did you make to it so that it fits women?
Vanessa: We adjusted the inseam.
Kate: Yeah, we lengthened the inseam a little bit and raised the rise.
Vanessa: And moved the pockets up, because they were for a guy and too low-slung on the butt.
Kate: We also added weight to the width of the waistband to account for hips. The most interesting thing about doing a man’s jean for a woman is that it’s made of selvedge denim. The selvedge runs straight all the way down, on the outside seam of the leg. Normally, for a women’s jean they don’t use selvedge because it’s hard to fit properly [because of women’s curves]. The selvedge, I think, is the main indication that it’s a very straight leg.
Did you base any part of it on a jean you already have and love? Or did you want to do something totally new?
Vanessa: We knew we wanted to do something with 3×1, and we went in and started looking at all their women’s jeans, but we were really drawn to the men’s styles. You know, everyone does a “boyfriend” jean, which is really a women’s baggy jean, and we wanted to do something different.
Morgan: And keep it clean. Most boyfriend jeans have that slouchy, casual look. Even though this isn’t, like, a very tight silhouette, it’s still an elegant jean.
Kate: So it’s more like a trouser-type feel because we were inspired by an actual man’s jean – as opposed to the fantasy of a man’s jean.
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Tell us how you each wear them…Morgan, you have yours cuffed. We love that.
Morgan: I always wear them with flats. I always cuff them and I always just wear them with a t-shirt or a crew-neck sweater.
Kate: I like wearing them straight, with a heel. Again, going back to the denim-as-trouser idea. And with a sweater or an actual shirt for me.
Have you all been wearing them non-stop, every day?
Morgan: When you put them on, every day it’s like a new jean. You break it in a little more every time.
Vanessa: I think that’s what we were drawn to. A lot of women don’t wear this kind of raw denim.
Right, sometimes it’s all about stretch.
Vanessa: Which is not necessarily our thing. A lot of women are intimidated by raw because when you put them on they can be a little tight, a little stiff. But they wear so well, it’s incredible. Even in one day of wearing them.
Morgan: And then even if you look at the product shot that’s on the site – of the black one especially – we all wore that sample around for a while and it’s already taken on some shape. It’s so great.
And, Vanessa, you’re wearing yours jeans with heels.
Vanessa: Jeans, heels, and sweaters. It’s kind of my uniform [laughs].
Can we namedrop a bit? Who are you wearing?
Morgan: I have Newbark shoes on, and a Vince top.
Kate: Céline shoes, and I’m not going to tell you the other! [all laugh loudly] You can just say it’s my studio sweater.
Vanessa: I’m in Céline and Céline. It just goes with everything [all laugh].
We heard you’re continuing the collaboration with 3×1 with a style for spring ’14. Can you tell us more about it?
Vanessa: It’s completely different from these. In every way. Different style. Different denim.
Morgan: It’s still rooted in a classic silhouette, though.
Kate: It has a higher rise. And the inseam is shorter, so it could be cropped on some women. But it’s not too short. Use your imagination [all laugh]…
Kate: Yeah, we don’t want to give it away [laughs].
Vanessa: Right. But, we’re also going to bring these current ones back in a new wash. We like this collaboration with 3×1 and want to keep building on it, rather than just doing a different one every season. Our whole philosophy is “building your classics” and so we want to consistently offer our favorite items like this.
And how cool, that you can just walk down the street to 3×1 to work on them.
Kate: Yes, when we need new stock. As soon as they come off the machine they come to us.
Morgan: It’s like a community, it’s nice.
Do each of you have a favorite jean (aside from these, of course!) that is your go-to?
Vanessa: Oh, yeah. My vintage Levi’s collection. I’ve had them for years. I have a stack of them [all laugh]. I’ve been scouring vintage stores for Levi’s for a long time. Every single pair you try on fits differently. But I’m sort of partial to the kind that hits at my ankle bone. In a worn-out, kind of lighter wash.
And are they men’s or women’s fits that you collect?
Vanessa: Who knows. Who knows who’s worn them before. I may not want to know [all laugh].
Morgan: I have this old pair of 501s that are in a light wash. Patched up.
Vanessa: Like, hanging on a thread.
Kate: I feel like we all have the same idea of the favorite jean.
Morgan: Mmm hmm. Yes, totally hanging on a thread. So much so that they’re like shorts with leggings attached to them. I got them from a really good friend. She probably had them forever. I’ve probably had them for six years. She had them for 20 before that.
Kate: I have a pair of Levi’s that I’ve had since I moved to New York in 2003. I don’t even remember what kind they are. They’ve definitely gone through some style changes for me. They worked for me in my 20s and they work for me now. They’re somewhat of a relaxed fit. They’re not boyfriend, but they’re a little baggy.
We’re seeing a thread here with your Levi’s…[all laugh]. Were you looking at them when you designed this collection?
Morgan: No, not really. But I think we all…just based on inspiration from past jeans we like, we’re clearly drawn to certain…
Vanessa: A classic body.
Kate: And the fact that a lot of stuff that’s been happening in denim in the past ten years has been tight, stretch denim. So we have to…
Vanessa: …go back to the basics.