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Dillard’s Exclusive Interview: Janice Marks, Design Director, Silver Jeans Co.

Silver Jeans Co. is a fan favorite for a variety of reasons including — but not limited to — excellent fit, wash and eye-catching details (love the thick-stitch embroidery). Evoking a comfortable confidence while keeping a steady eye on trend, Silver Jeans Co. is truly a jean for denim lovers. Design director Janice Marks gives us an exclusive inside look into the brand:

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What made you want to get into the fashion industry, specifically Junior’s?

I always had a love of clothing and when I discovered that I had an aptitude in design I really never looked back. I did not specifically target Juniors as I did the denim industry. Since I started in the denim business at a young age I was able to focus my personal clothing desires with denim design, which resulted in a younger minded product.

How and at what point did you discover you could make a business out of doing what you love?

I was about 16 years old and did a work apprenticeship at Western Glove Works the parent company of Silver Jeans Co. during my spring break in high school. I found working with denim amazing and the manufacturing process fascinating. I knew then that I wanted to work with denim in some way as the engineering of a pair of jeans and the elements that it takes to create the prefect jean is so involved. I started then to develop and expand my love for all things indigo at that time.

Did you attend school for your training or are you self-taught?

I attended Ryerson Polytechnic University and studied there for 2 years in their apparel design program. Most of my knowledge in denim is self-taught from working in the industry. Denim is a unique material to work with and takes years of training and is continually evolving with innovations in fabrics and technology.

Where do you draw most of your inspiration or ideas for products?

I draw inspiration for vintage, as well as the fabric and wash technology. I am continually moving forward to marry the heritage of denim with new technology to bring denim forward.  Depending on the brand theme for a given season it is mixing all the elements to create products that embody the brand identity, theme and any influences from the fabrics be used and wash treatments.

Who are you major influences? (Designers & Celebrities)

There are a few celebrities that I look to as they really embody traits of our Silver Jeans Co.  customer because they are denim lovers.

A growing influence is social media. I really like to watch the different blogs as I find these people doing the most novel things with denim at the moment. They really have a fresh take on denim.

Describe your creative process.

My creative process begins with identifying the theme that we will use to design our collection around. This theme will be used to infuse our various product categories with a common theme across sportswear, lady’s and men’s denim.

I then look to vintage and history and how it has influenced our theme and work to develop washes and details that will bring a united and eclectic mix to the style range.

I then select and develop new fabric and indigo color ranges for the season which will result in washes and fits that work with the given theme.

Lastly, washes are designed and developed in a range that will complement the looks for the season.

What trends are you following right now?

Denim Fabric Innovations are driving a lot of my new developments right now. I am working with combining manmade fibers with cotton to reduce the amount of cotton that we are using in our fabric. This will not only reduce our dependency on cotton but also with innovations in yarns we can improve the fits of our jeans and improve hand feel.

Active wear is a trend that I am following very closely and developing denims that wear and feel like knits but with all of the inherent qualities of indigo denim. Active wear is also influencing how I look at styling and different treatments on the jeans.

I am also working with eco friendly wash treatments and expanding our use of Ozone and Laser technology to along with methods to reduce the chemicals in wash processes.

Do you travel abroad to trend watch? Where? Describe a trip & how it influenced the line.

I travel a variety of places Europe, Asia and North America.  One of the longer trips is to Asia which I do quarterly. I cover numerous countries as they all have a variety of influences, which can inspire different aspects of the collection.

I typically fly to Tokyo, Japan where I will spend 3-4 days shopping the different areas of Tokyo: Shibuya for junior fashions, Harajuku for street fashion Ometesando for Designer collections, Daikanyama for independent boutiques, and Shimokitazawa for junior fashion and vintage. Each area is unique and the people on the streets are all so different. It is always the best part is seeing how individuals put the looks together and to see which trends are going to be the next big thing. Japan has a love for North American vintage so it is great for finding inspiration in vintage fabrics, denim in a boutique atmosphere.

Seoul, Korea is the second stop on the trip.  Seoul is amazing for fast fashion with the wholesale clothing market open 24 hours. They have interesting trends happening along with washes, fabrications and treatments, which translate very well for the North American Market.

What feelings do you want your brand to evoke?

I want all of our customers to feel like the jeans that they are wearing are their best friends. In that I mean that they are always there providing comfort, security, and confidence just as a friend would.

What do you feel makes your brand stand out from the others?

Silver Jeans Co. has been always know for their fit, wash, and fabric along with novel details. Our variety of fits, silhouettes and details really make use stand out. We excel as bringing the best possible value to our customer with our outstanding looks.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is to take innovations in wash, fabric create designs that are accessible to all.  It is a lot of fun to design the raw piece of denim and work with the stitching and wash to create an amazing pair of jeans. Working with indigo is hugely rewarding as the hand work that goes into creating the end product is so varied on any given design.

Shop all Silver Jeans Co. >

Do you have a Silver Jeans Co. favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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Dillard’s Exclusive Interview: Tableware Designer Julia Knight

Q. Where do you get your inspiration from?
A. From my time living in Paris and the global tapestry of my travels: the flash of color from a Sari, the sea off the coast of St. Tropez, the flesh from a ripe mango, an oyster’s shimmering shell, the delicateness of wild sage, a cranberry’s translucent depth.

Q. How do you decide your design style?
A. I love a design style that mixes natural textures like warm woods and dramatic animal prints, with more womanly elements like shimmer and shine. My goal is to add a bit of glamour and sparkle to the table while keeping it comfortable and functional. My collection is all about color and creating your own personal palettes of color that reflect your personality and mood.

Q. What are your tips for entertaining?
A.  It isn’t necessarily about what one serves, it isn’t about slaving for hours to create the perfect evening. That’s old school. New school is making the perfect evening perfectly effortless. My serveware and glassware can help transform even the most ordinary food and refreshment into something unique without having to break a sweat. It is what I call “entertaining redefined.”

Q. What makes the Julia Knight collection different?
A. Color is definitely a strength and the mix of materials to create something that is at the same time glamorous but comfortable. My look is female, not feminine; dramatic and comfortable — it makes you feel really good about yourself.

Q. Which is your favourite piece? What is an ideal piece to gift to a friend?
A. It changes with each season. Right now, I am favoring the new Peony 12” round deep bowl.  It is the perfect piece to serve in. And if you add a small bowl in the center, it becomes an ideal chip and dip.

Q. What colors do you like to use the most?
A. One of my favorite colors is amethyst, which can be paired with kiwi and hydrangea for a gorgeous mix or with platinum, toffee and snow for a sophisticated look. I am also fond of the Pretty in Pink color-story for spring — caviar, champagne, raspberry, snow and platinum.

Q. Of all things, why did you choose to design décor and tableware?
A.  One of my greatest joys is entertaining others.  I love the chance to make people feel special, and I want to be present at a party and not worn out from the preparation. This drove my desire to design entertaining table and serveware that would make anything I served, from shrimp and cocktail sauce to smoked salmon and caviar, absolutely stunning. I want my guests to leave with a memorable experience.

Q. Any future plans to make additions to your collections?
A. This spring I’m thrilled to introduce “Wood Jewels,” a collection I’ve been working on for more than a year that combines sumptuous hand-carved wood with our signature enamel — it’s jewelry for your table. Also new, a royal “Queen Bee” design that has folks buzzing already and a fabulous collection of fish I call “Pescador.”

Shop the Julia Knight Collection.

What’s your favorite Julia Knight piece? Tell us about it in the collection.  

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The HomeFront: Dillard’s Exclusive Interview with Reba McEntire

Q.  How would you describe your own style for your home?
A.  I would describe my home as being warm and inviting. I want everyone who visits to feel welcome, comfortable and relaxed. I love to surround myself with pieces that bring back fond memories: trips, family, friends, accomplishments and personal items that reflect who I am.

Q.  What connections do you feel between being a home decor designer and an artist/singer/songwriter?
A.  They are both outlets for expressing my creativity and connecting with someone. I feel my creativity for music and my brand are similar in that I want to have a connection with my products, much like I want to have that connection with my fans when I sing.

Q.  What do you feel you bring to the home furnishing industry that’s different from other designers?
A.  With my profession, I travel all over the world which gives me the advantage of seeing what is available in the marketplace. I want to bring products to my consumer that are special and have meaning when brought into their home.  I look for products that are made of quality materials that will add warmth to my home. That is what I am creating with my brand.

Q.  Where do you draw most of your inspiration or ideas for products?
A.  I gather inspiration from everything: magazines, traveling, landscapes, architecture, friend’s homes, other people.  I always have my eyes open for great products and what is being offered in hopes that we can design something unique and not do what everyone else is doing.

Q.  How did your partnership with Dillard’s home first begin?
A.  We started the REBA Brand with ladies sportswear in the Spring of 2005.  After finding success in this category, we were approached to create a bedding line for Dillard’s. My home is my retreat. It’s the warm, comfortable place where I get to relax and spend quality time with family and friends, so Harmony for the Home was a natural extension for me and the brand. I personally use the products, and my home is full of the REBA bedding and bath collections.

Q.  Can you give us a sneak peak of some upcoming REBA home fashions?
A.  We have several beautiful bedding collections coming for fall. Gold Coast is a regal, traditional collection in gold and cream. Belvedere is made up of a large scale border with black and camel hues that will be offered with coordinating drapery and decorative pillows. The Belvedere collection is grand and makes a statement.  We will also be offering an American Indian collection that is made up in the beautiful, rich colors of burgundy, camel and turquoise. We have many more collections coming this fall that we know you will love!

Q.  What’s the ultimate message you want to get across through your products?
A.  I want people to know that my products are a direct reflection of my lifestyle. I hope that my consumer will connect with them because they reflect a level of quality and comfort that I personally approve.

Shop Reba’s Divine Harmony Christmas Tree for the home.

Shop all Reba home products. Shop all Reba.

What’s your favorite Reba product? Tells us about it in the comments. 

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Exclusively Misook: A Dillard’s Exclusive Interview

Exclusively Misook is a truly different clothing line. The entire collection is made from knit, but in styles and structured silhouettes that aren’t traditional for this material. We wanted to know more so we caught up with Design Director Troy Ray to ask him some quick questions about Exclusively Misook.

Q: Who is the Exclusively Misook customer?
A: I know it’s impossible to be all things to all people, especially in the case of clothing. I strive to provide a collection that multitasks,  just as the woman who wears Misook. So who is she? She’s an independent, elegant woman. Confident, yet feminine. Often over-booked, but finds time for everything. She chooses her wardrobe accordingly.

Q: Where do you draw most of your inspiration for the line?
A: Who? Michelle Obama. Kate Middleton. Oprah Winfrey. Hillary Clinton. They’re out there: people watch what they’re wearing, listen to what they’re saying, and wonder what they’re doing — so I watch them. What? That’s a bit trickier. I’m always seeing something in a museum, on the street, on television, at a concert that inspires me. It could be a color combination or a neckline in an eighteenth century portrait — I don’t rule anything out; I’ve found inspiration in the strangest places.

Q: What is your favorite step in the design process?
A: The end. Seriously, I enjoy every step, but I’m especially happy when I can see, feel and touch the actual product. In all these years, I’ve never lost my fascination of what can be created with a few yards of fabric and some thread.

Q: Did you attend school for clothing design or are you self-taught?
A: I suppose you could say that I taught myself — at least enough to get hired as a designer 30 years ago. After that, I attended a few evening classes at Otis/Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles, but the biggest influence to my design education was working for and alongside some of the industry’s heaviest hitters. I got lucky in that. Very, very lucky.

Q: What are some of your favorite pieces in the line?
A: I’m particularly proud of the structured jackets and blazers. Tailored and knitwear are two words that usually don’t get used in the same sentence, but somehow we figured it out. I also love the pieces where we’ve pushed the knit-technology envelope; stitches that resemble something organic or even something as delicate as lace.

Q: What are some key trends we will see from your line next season?
A: Misook [as well as the rest of the fashion industry] is in a color cycle, so that’s first on the list. Color, color and more color. Color blocking, shocking color with subtle, heathered tones, unexpected color combinations — anything colorful seems to work and seems appropriate. Proportion is key next season, too. We imply shape with clever seaming, build in shadows by the innovative placement of color that, in the end, improves our customer’s contours while at the same time, makes them look current and polished.

Q: What’s the ultimate message you want to get across through your designs?
A: That clothing can look as good, if not better, than it functions and endures. That a wear-to-work wardrobe isn’t always stuffy or masculine. That appearing refined, sophisticated and tasteful doesn’t take much effort at all.

Intrigued by this unique collection? Check out our entire selection of Exclusively Misook.

What clothing collection would you like to learn more about? 

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Dillard’s Exclusive Interview with Pelle Moda Creative Director Jessie Chen

Q: Who is the typical Pelle Moda customer?

A: Women who are aware of trends, have fun with fashion and love to dress  — and especially women who love shoes.

Q: Where do you draw most of your inspiration for your designs?

A: From art, nature, indigenous crafts and my mom, who loves to shop with me.

Q: Who are your major influences?

A: The fine artists: Picasso and Gauguin and the work of fashion designers Balenciaga and Lanvin. They romanticized the feminine form and used color splendidly.

Q: What do you feel you bring to the industry?

A: My work is my passion. Beautiful fabrics, interesting leathers and color are my playthings. I am endlessly curious about the art of shoemaking and obsessed with the quality of my product. I think my customers see that in my shoes.

Q: Whatʼs the ultimate message you want to get across through your shoes?

A: Beautiful shoes can also be comfortable. My shoes are a delight to see and to wear. Women deserve my shoes.

Q: Did you attend school for design or are you self-taught?

A: My degree is in business administration. I learned to design and make shoes in my family business, growing up in shoe factories.

Q: What are some key trends we will see from your line next season?

A: For spring, strong upper silhouettes with the interest on new platforms and heel shapes are important. You’ll see unique luster finishes on suede and reptile skins, sizzling brights, and refreshing frosty pales. And for evening, a romantic art deco retro interest.

Q: Tell us about a shoe you will never forget.

A: The style Heavenly, one of my first rhinestone thong sandals, was like a beautiful diamond jewel piece for the foot. Our customers loved it so, of course, I do too!

Shop the looks: Alera d’Orsay Pumps, Nadira Sandals, Bertia Thong Sandals

Shop all Pelle Moda.

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Kooba: Behind The Brand

Q: What makes the Kooba brand special?

A: Kooba uses rich textures and vintage-inspired silhouettes. When you couple that with their outstanding leather piece work and bold hardware, you’ve got an incredibly unique handbag. They have found a way to combine casual styling with luxury — this makes them distinct from other brands in the marketplace.

Q: How would you describe the Kooba woman?

A: I would say she is independent in her fashion expression. She speaks for herself and is free thinking, not a follower. She is applauded for her relaxed attitude and modern choices. The Kooba woman believes in individuality but she is also determined, and most importantly fun-spirited.

Q: Where can you take these bags (daily use, travel, special occasion, etc.)?

 A: Anywhere! These are substantial bags you can carry daily. Durability and functionality are never overlooked at Kooba and this makes them a long-lasting wardrobe staple. A Kooba can be paired with jeans or used as a work tote — the Grace tote is even big enough to be a weekender!

Q: What are your favorite styles?

A: The Jackson convertible is my favorite bag. It can be carried as a satchel, but it also has a shoulder strap for cross-body styling. This is perfect for shopping or other activities where carrying a handbag can get annoying. I LOVE the color! It is colorblocked which is super trendy right now, but in a versatile palette that can be worn with neutral or bright outfits. Also, the Zoey hobo is a great bag that can be worn all year long. It’s a good size with great function, and their brown multi color goes with any outfit.

Shop all Kooba at Dillards.com.

Which Kooba bag is your favorite? 

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Jeannie Mai: Dillard’s Exclusive Interview

Q: What are the must-have shoe silhouettes of the season?
A: Every woman should own a day-to-dawn shoe. Even if you don’t plan to stay out that late it’s nice to know you’d look good doing so. For that very reason I suggest Rockport’s Janae pump. Platinum gold in the day, sizzle and sass for night. I wore them this Saturday to show you mai way of wearing ‘em!

Q: What style are you most excited about for summer?
A: I live for the buttery sherbet shades coming out. From jeans to nails, these tones light up every look!

Q: Say you could only wear one pair of shoes for the rest of your life, which style would you choose?
A: Hmm, it’d have to be the Rockport Audry. It’s such a beautiful woven mahogany. It’s that staple sandal to go with any dress, skirt, shorts…you get it.

Q: What is the most common style mistake you see among women?
A: Ill-fitting clothes. I always say if you don’t have fit you don’t have fashion.

Q: What’s your number one style tip?
A: When in doubt, don’t wear it out.

Q: Whose style do you admire?
A: I admire my mother’s. She taught me style can enhance your mood, energize people and drive your purpose. Today I call it Wearapy.

Q: What’s your favorite part of “How Do I Look”?
A: When a woman looks in the mirror longer than she should. It’s well deserved.

Shop all Rockport here.

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