Quantcast

Madewell's American-made denim is built to last—and to look even better. 

BY COURTNEY KENEFICK

Jeans. They’re wardrobe anchors— simple, easy, and trusted. To slip into a familiar pair is a natural, almost thoughtless decision. But how much thinking goes into finding an ideal combination of comfort and style, a balance between stretch and retention, and a perfectly dyed wash? At Madewell, the womenswear brand whose down-to-earth tomboyish femininity embodies effortless dressing, the answer is a lot. In fact, it’s a yearlong conversation. “The denim team definitely goes to town in their own world,” head of design, Joyce Lee, says of the process. “Because it’s so specific, and so technical, and so exciting.” Before pants land on the brand’s Denim Bars inside its 103 U.S. stores, Lee and her team take on a process that spans coast to coast. Designers at Madewell’s Manhattan office turn inspiration into concept, which then becomes sketches and hard measurements that are handed off to production in California. There, internationally sourced raw material is cut, sewn, washed, and detailed—all by hand—in downtown Los Angeles. Here, a look at the inner workings of Madewell.