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"Would you be interested in interviewing Khloe Kardashian about a secret project?" she asked.
In fandom culture, there is a tier of celebrity called your faves. As in "My fave looks so good here," or "When will your fave ever come close to this?" It’s a little like rooting for a sports team. Often, faves are emblematic of traits the faver admires or sees in themself — it’s a step above passive appreciation. For instance, I’ve seen many Emma Stone movies and think she’s a charming entertainer, but I’m not running to the theater to see her movies on opening night. Faves, however, you show up for on opening night. You buy tickets in advance. Khloe Kardashian is one of my faves.
I’m not sure how much of this Meredith knew when she offered me the gig, but my answer was, emphatically, "Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Here are all of the details we had at the time: Kardashian was launching some kind of brand called the G.A. Project, and jeans somehow played a role. The website at the time was simply a landing page with a mission statement. "The body revolution is here," it announced. "There is a new definition of sexy. The shape we lust for has curves, not the straight body of the fashion establishment. Some call it a new silhouette, we just think of it as embracing the body you were given." Kardashian has been on a couple-year fitness kick and released a bestselling book about learning to love her body in the fall of 2015, so all of this seemed to make sense. I’ve seen every Keeping Up with the Kardashians episode that’s aired to date, but beyond that, preparing for an interview about a business when you don’t know anything about the business is kind of impossible. I just had to wait until we were in a room together. That gave me a full weekend to think about things like what I should wear and how to act cool and normal.
I should probably also say that I don’t get starstruck easily. For a few years, I worked at a TV show with a nightly lineup of guests I’d often need to work with closely, and the only time I got emotional was when the cast of Sesame Street visited and I saw Cookie Monster from across the room. That one beautiful instance aside, I’m usually super calm and professional. So my main concern about meeting my fave was "I hope she likes me," by which I also mean "I hope we really hit it off and this is the beginning of a close personal friendship where we laugh about the dick pics in our DMs." So, you know, no pressure.
I managed my nerves by micromanaging my ensemble that day. I woke up and checked Kardashian’s Snapchat to see what she was wearing, and planned my own look accordingly.
I couldn’t quite recreate the designer vibe of her outfit, but at least I knew what we were shooting for: Soho Casual. Day Manhattan. My version of that was one of my nicer navy button-downs tucked into a pair of dark jeans (on theme!) with some leather sandals. Because my pants were ankle-length, I also shaved about four inches of my lower legs. That way, if I shifted in my seat and my pants hiked up, Kardashian wouldn’t be subjected to any stubble. Anything for my fave.
That afternoon, Khloe and her business partner Emma Grede were waiting for me in a private multi-purpose space at Tribeca’s brand new Arlo Hotel. I couldn’t tell if it was the clientele or a business choice, but everything in the building smelled lightly of Le Labo perfume. Across the room, several racks of jeans were arranged by wash and style in a horseshoe shape. Both women were resting in luxe mid-century wing chairs and rose to shake my hand when I walked through the door.
"Nice handshake," Kardashian said, not knowing that in my head I was updating my life’s DVD case to include her quote.
"Nice handshake!" — Khloe Kardashian, 2016
Kardashian was in the light jeans and camel trench I’d seen her wearing on Snapchat, and Grede (who has an extremely charming English accent) had paired her black skinny jeans with a gray Buzzfeed T-shirt.
"I just realized I forgot to change out of my T-shirt," she laughed. "We were outside eating lunch, and it was so hot I went into one of the crew’s* backpacks and grabbed this. So now I’m promoting Buzzfeed! We love Buzzfeed!"
We settled back into the wing chairs and got to talking. It turned out the pair had partnered up to launch a line of high-end denim called Good American, which explained the G.A. Project placeholder. We chatted about the company, what a bummer shopping for women’s clothes can be, and how the ladies are hoping to shake up the industry.
I started off by asking what the name "Good American" meant for them, and it was clear the title has been well-considered. "I think the good American girl doesn’t really apologize for herself, and she’s not very shy," Emma said, explaining that more than that, they wanted their brand to "behave like a good American."
"The values of our company — the way we treat our staff, the way that we’ve set up our infrastructure, the way that we behave in general" — are all about being good Americans, she continued. While not a charity, they did want to "give back" by providing jobs for LA workers and partnering with a yet-unnamed charity.
Me: Okay. Tell me about the jeans a little bit. I can see them over here. It seems like there’s a wide array of options — how did you decide what to make?
Khloe: There is a wide array. There’s three different styles, but then those three styles come in a variety of colors. Or distressed, and crops, and whatnot. We have a skinny, called… I can’t think.
Emma: Good Legs. Absolutely.
Khloe [turning to me in her chair]: I’ve been up since 4:30, so my brain is fried.
Emma: No, no, no. I’m exactly the same.
Me: [louder laugh]
Khloe: I’m like, we do this all day, why can’t I think anymore? What’s my name? Anyway, we have a fabulous skinny, which I’m actually wearing now —
Me: Oh, amazing.
Khloe: And these come in a variety of washes. We have the Good Boy, which is more of like a boyfriend jean, but it still is incredibly flattering on the booty. Cause some boyfriend jeans…
Me: Are not!
Khloe: Are not. And we have the Good Waist, [which] really cinches at the smallest part of your waist and acts as a corset. Our denim is really unique because we have a few different tips and tricks. Like our waistband, something that Emma and I saw throughout [our research process was that] a lot of women in our focus groups were [in this position] — you buy denim, but always kind of have to tailor the back or else it buckles out in the back. In our denim, we have this contoured waistband where it really hugs the small of your waist, and it doesn’t ever gap out. And we’ve tried them on so many different shapes and sizes, and across the board, it’s been magnificent. So that’s awesome. And we have a very, very expensive fabric. The fabric is stretchy and beautiful and fits any curve of the body, but it also has a great recovery factor, so you don’t have to wash your denim after every wear. Cause that’s obnoxious.
Laughing like old friends, which we now were, Khloe walked me through the purchasing experience. The brand is now available in Nordstrom and on GoodAmerican.com. The website will allow shoppers to see every pair of denim on three different body types, and Nordstrom will be putting the entire range of sizes (0 to 24) in stores. And not only that, but, as Khloe explained, the stores will be "keeping it all in their luxury denim section instead of separating the two." This is particularly exciting news, and my buddy agreed. "We don’t consider ourselves a plus-size range, we consider ourselves just a denim range, and we’re really trying to break down those barriers and not have people segregate these things so much."
This felt personal for Khloe, like it’s personal for a lot of women. "It’s frustrating when you’re with your girlfriends and you’re shopping, and all of your girlfriends are on one side, but you have to go to some smaller department," she said. "It just alienates you. It doesn’t make you feel good. I had that experience with my sisters where, when I was bigger, I always had to shop in a different section. I was like, ‘That’s not fun. I want everything to be in one section.’ It should not be making us feel like shit when we go shopping. We want to feel good in our jeans and good in our own skin. Shopping should be a fun experience that you do with your girlfriends. Not somewhere where you’re like, ‘I gotta do this alone cause I have a separate section to go to.’"
Khloe recalled experiences she’d had with luxury denim boutiques in the past, mock-gasping in horror, "‘No! We don’t have that size here!’"
"I was always like, denim-shamed," she said. "So the denim that I would always buy, they had no style, no taste. It was just a whatever denim. And I’d roll them, cuff them, try to make them cute. But... it’s frustrating. Cause then I started losing weight, and got closer to these more current years, [and] suddenly I can wear this styled denim… It’s like, if you are bigger, why do I have to lack style? Because some denim brand is telling me?" Even though that’s not an issue she's dealing with at her current size, Kardashian says it's important to her to "fight for the real figures."
Me: How would you hope someone would feel wearing the jeans?
Emma: Confident. I want women to put them on and just feel like, really good. It doesn’t sound right when an English person says it, but Khloe says it all the time: badass. But that’s a really good way of saying it. I want a woman to put them on and feel bloody good and empowered about herself. I think clothes do so much for people, when you’ve got the right fitting clothes, and you feel really good and you get up. I think it’s an important thing, and I don’t think that should stop at any size range.
Khloe: I feel like jeans, denim, they make me feel badass. They make me feel sexy, or I could feel classy. I could go to a meeting, and I could go out to the nightclub. I feel great in a pair of denim, and I want everyone to feel that way. And again, it sucked when I didn’t have one that fit me right because no one was going up to that size. So I love that we’re sending that message and creating that for women.
Next, the ladies invited me to interact with the racks of jeans on the other side of the room.
"Do you mind if I leave these off?" Kardashian asked, gesturing to the pale pink stilettos at the foot of her chair. It did not occur to me that I might be the person whose approval she was seeking, so I remained quiet and waited for Emma or someone from their team to weigh in. After a beat, it dawned on me that my close personal friend was speaking to me.
"Oh god, it’s a miracle you had those on to begin with," I said, and she laughed and left her shoes off. We walked over to the racks together.
The first thing you notice about Good American jeans is that they’re completely brandless — the back pockets don’t have any identifying embroidery, and the simple silver button in the front bears no logo or text. To touch, the denim has that buttery, stretchy feel that usually signifies a good fit for me; stiff enough to be jeans, but soft enough to be comfortable. The kind of jeans you don’t sprint to take off as soon as you’re home. Jeans to sit on a couch in.
They’re also incredibly expensive-looking. Pairs tend to run in the $150-$200 range, which is high when you think of your usual celebrity-backed goods, but this isn’t a drugstore perfume or a QVC endorsement-level product. Kardashian knows fashion, knows denim, and knows what it’s like to struggle finding something that fits, and she’s made a product she really seems to be proud of. She may be my fave, but I’d probably be interested in trying on these jeans regardless.
I did not ask for a selfie in the name of professionalism, and later when I emailed my editor Meredith about it, she let me know that it would’ve been totally fine. But honestly, it’s okay that I didn’t. I have a good handshake.
*They were shooting Keeping Up with the Kardashians that day.