clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Daryl K and Madewell’s Joyce Lee on Denim, New York, and Their New Collab

Racked has affiliate partnerships, which do not influence editorial content, though we may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. We also occasionally accept products for research and reviewing purposes. See our ethics policy here.

BFA

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Like most fashion collaborations, the newest one between Madewell and the famed '90s designer Daryl K came about from a simple conversation. Well —” more accurately — a fashion-forward conversation piece.

When J. Crew's head designer Somsack Sikhounmuong was just a student, he would frequent Daryl's popular boutique in New York's East Village. "He had fond memories of my brand, but we were connected through another way as well — a pair of boots," Kerrigan tells Racked at the launch party for the collection. The boots in question were vintage and expertly customized by Daryl herself, and once they found themselves in J. Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons' line of sight, a collaboration between the two brands was sort of inevitable.

Now, almost a year later, Daryl K has released an 18-piece capsule collection (which you can shop today) for the beloved denim brand she designed alongside Madewell's head designer, Joyce Lee. The two sat down with us to talk about the inspiration behind the collection, their shared love of denim, and Kerrigan's longtime friend and fan, Kim Gordon —” the Sonic Youth crooner who's featured in the lookbook for the collection with her daughter, Coco Gordon Moore.

How did your designs catch the attention of Jenna Lyons?

DK: I do a lot of customizing on old things. If I find something old and it's not quite what I want, I'll change it. There was this pair of boots that I re-did, and they were so cool. Jenna actually saw them on a mutual friend, and she just loved them. And it was like, "Let's talk about doing something."

How long did it take to complete the collection?

DK: I think it was really about a year, because we allowed it to be very organic. We used to talk about those boots, and we were all excited about them, but it could't have been just about the boots. It needed to be a collection. We just let it kind of magically happen.

Can you walk me through your thought process, inspiration-wise, when designing this collection?

DK: Well, I love the '70s. I was a teenager in the '70s, and in all my years of design, I actually had never really done flares because it was just never that moment. I love flares now; I love how they look, and it's a natural progression from the high-waisted skinny jeans everyone's loving. The truth is, anyone can wear high-waisted flares. When you look at vintage pictures, you can see how many women are wearing them. And they just feel good. It's nice to have a bit of extra fabric, and it just goes with this kind of freewheeling flow of the '70s, So-Cal vibe.

Yeah, there are a lot of California influences in there. Did you throw any New York vibes in there as well?

DK: Always. But, you know, it's kind of fun to just riff on these other feelings. Because we're both New York-based brands and we're all New Yorkers, it's always going to have like a total overlay of New York, which puts that real street-cool spin on things.

Joyce, what was it like to work with Daryl?

JL: It was a lot of fun. I felt like it was just an organic, easy process. Daryl had so many great pieces that she had from her personal collection, so it was fun to just talk about what those pieces meant to her and how they related to Madewell. It was sort of just finding how we look at the wardrobe and what is important to us when creating that perfect wardrobe. We looked at vintage pieces and talked about what we wanted this collection to be grounded in, which was denim-based and just very easy. I felt like it was a seamless way to work.

There's a lot of denim in this collection. What is it about the fabric that draws you to it?

DKl: I just really love denim, and I'd never made a huge amount of it in my own line. But when you do it, you sort of have to be an expert at it. There are companies who really specialize in denim, and Madewell is one of those companies. It just works perfectly for me, because my whole feeling is fit and stretch and fashion. So I can kind of reinterpret my whole collection into denim. It was just a no-brainer to work with Madewell.

What do you like most about the design process?

DK: Oh, you really want to know? Not having to actually manufacture and produce the clothes.

JL: Yeah, that's like a whole other side of the industry.

DK: I mean, as an indie designer, I do absolutely everything from start to finish, and I know about every single area of it. Whereas with Madewell, they have so much expertise and it's a real joy to work on that level. But that's a sigh of relief, and after that, you really start having fun. You can explore anything, and anything you come up with they can do. It's great.

How long have you known Kim Gordon? Was it a no-brainer to tap her for the lookbook?

DK: We've known each other a long time. She's such an iconic, '90s rock chick, and she embodies that really nonchalant style. She's also so much about music and I always come from a point of view of music. It's always in the background. Kim is such a cool woman.

Lighting Round!

8am or 8pm?

DK: 8pm

JL: I'm now 8am. I used to be 8pm [laughs].

DK: I want to go back to 8am. I keep reading about people who wake up early in the morning. I want to do that [laughs].

Coffee or tea and how do you take it?

DK: Green tea. Coffee makes me so crazy. Sometime if I drink a coffee in the morning or at 3, I'm still buzzing at 9 at night, and it's just not cool.

JL: I'm iced coffee.

L.A. or New York?

JL: I'm in the middle, because I just want both. I love both.

DK: I'd have to say that L.A. is quite appealing these days, and there are a lot of artists moving out there and creating a cool scene.

JL: But then again, nothing beats New York. As soon as I leave New York, I just want to come back.

DK: Yeah, you've got to have both.

Flared jeans or skinny jeans?

DK: Both! Why choose when you don't have to?

JL: Your wardrobe should have both.

Instagram or Snapchat?

DK and JL in unison: Instagram! [laughs]

Dinner Party of Afterparty?

DK: Dinner party

JL: Dinner party

DK: Oh, I'm glad you said the same thing.