Where the runway meets the street

On Saturday, the Levi’s Cords by Opening Ceremony tour (if you will) roll’s into San Francisco. The founders of Opening Ceremony, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, are both graduates of UC Berkley. Given their Bay Area roots, it seemed appropriate for Levi’s to create “a home away from home” for the Levi’s Cords by Opening Ceremony Collection. To that end, Jay Carroll of One Trip Pass helped to create a “store within a store” at the Levi’s Flagship Store in San Francisco’s Union Square. This pop up space within the Levi’s shop will offer the collection as well as some other collaborative items.

Given the publicity of both collection and the “store within a store,” we decided to take some time and dig (a little) into the background of the Levi’s Cords by Opening Ceremony collection. We chatted with Aylin Beyce, designer of the collection, wishing to learn more about the collaborative process and Levi’s background in cordaroy.

Hit the jump to read her responses. (please note the above photograph is by Phillip King, and captures one of the launch campaign sites in San Francisco).

SL: Let’s start with some quickies – What’s your background in fashion?

AB: Like most designers, I have always been into making my own clothes but a few years back decided to try design out as a career. I enrolled in a school in Paris called Studio Bercot. I figured that if I didn’t like it, at least I’d learn French! My first job out of school was working on Jeremy Scott’s Spring 2005 collection. I then moved to Berlin for four months and worked for a German designer on an art / fashion project. I got a job with Levi’s soon after, and I have been here ever since.

SL: What’s Levi’s background in corduroy?

AB: In the late 1970s and early 1980s Levi’s was as known for our colorful corduroys almost as much as we were for our beloved denim jeans.

At that time, we offered almost 20 choices of color in our corduroy jeans ranging from khaki, olive and white to baby blue and pink.

SL: What colors inspire you?

AB: I tend to love brights mixed with muted colors, as it is the combination of colors together that inspires me the most. There are colors that I am always inspired by: a vibrant, tomato red, an acid yellow or curry, and a yellow peach. Then there are colors that I am surprised by and inspired by for a period of time. Right now beach glass, nudes, soft yellow, navy and a sharp red are at the top of my list.

SL: Getting to specifics, taking from a classic cut, the 505, how do you rework it and keep the garments integrity while shifting the fit slightly?

AB: For the Spring 2010 collection of our ongoing work with Opening Ceremony, we used the 1967 505 fit block as our starting point.

The 1967 505 fit pairs a nice, slim shape with a more square top block.  We were also inspired by a specific pair of 505s from the 80s that had been washed to bits and was shrunken down.

The resulting Levi’s Cords by Opening Ceremony 505 fit became a hybrid of the two, with a nip in the waist and fitted seat and thigh.  The fact we were inspired by our own vintage garments, one of which had been so heavily altered through wash, wear and love by the owner, gives the updated, Opening Ceremony 505 fit a great deal of integrity and authenticity. Given this 505 silhouette is designed to be unisex also lends an innovative edge to the evolution of the fit.

SL: I might ask the same thing about shirts and jackets – what were your starting points here? What did you want to hit in terms of key detail?

AB: Since, the iconic 505 shape is a perfect slim straight fit, this opened up the idea of a collection of perfect, simple, iconic unisex fits. There was a general shrunken idea that inspired the collection’s fits, although it ends up looking great oversized as well. The shirt has a shrunken collar and slim fit. The jackets are tight and cropped, and the 505 was inspired a vintage garment that shrunk down over time and was worn undersized. 
SL: Given the nature of the collaboration, I’m interested in what you recieved as briefing. Was it difficult to balance the desires of both sides? Is there pressure given that the cord series kicks off a longer running set of collaborative production? 
AB: Humberto Leon, Carol Lim–the founders of Opening Ceremony–and Olivia Kim, VP of Creative Services for Opening Ceremony, were really into the idea of the 505, which mirrored the feeling that Levi’s design was also having at the time. The corduroy inspiration  was a mix of nostalgia, inspired by Humberto¹s memories of hanging out with  his friends in Northern California in the 90s, the carefree nature of Ryan  Mcginley’s photos, and feeling that the time was right for Levi’s to address 
the part that corduroy played in our pioneering history.

Opening Ceremony is so great to work with and they are true collaborators in every sense of the word. We both bring ideas to the table at the beginning of the season and have a lot of respect and confidence in eachother’s ideas and perspectives.

The design process is an ongoing back and forth throughout the season, where we are bouncing ideas off of them and vice versa, resulting in very fun and creative collections.

SL: With Opening Ceremony’s reputation and the other projects they’ve been involved in, it seems that a delicate balance also comes in needing to translate a unique identity of two strong brands. Clearly using the 505 helps. But, what other steps are required to adequately represent 
both sides?

AB: Both brands work from a genuine, authentic place. I think that this allows us to collaborate well and the balance between the brands almost organically and naturally  evens out. The collaboration also allows us a platform to look at our heritage in a really fun and youthful way.  And we are such huge fans of Opening Ceremony’s and they love Levi’s, so there’s a great deal of respect and admiration for all involved, making working together a very seamless, fun and inspiring process.

SL: Can you offer any teasers as to the future of the Levi’s for Opening 
Ceremony collections?

AB: I can’t say too much now but I can say that we will continue to play with the idea of unisex dressing for the Fall collection as well!

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