“I’m kind of tired of the Zoom aesthetic,” an art director sighed when I called him on the phone in a rare moment of gab between work. His comment was veto-ing an idea I’d had—fine—but the sentiment resonated. The flatness and monotone of digital communication had turned aesthetics into a two-dimensional play of curated artistry. The thought of the world becoming sternum-up portrait necklines and artfully wacky jewelry and chignons or really good blunt haircuts is just so universally boring. It’s a total snooze.
So when Michael Halpern’s J Brand collaboration arrives in stores today, it brings relief. These are clothes calibrated for living offline and in the full spectrum of colors. “J Brand approaches denim in such a versatile way and is able to manipulate the material well for evening and dressing up, and although going out is not something we are doing a lot at the moment – who says you can’t dress up for being at home?” Halpern says of his exuberant flares (not visible on Zoom!) and snakeskin-print blazers.
Halpern x J Brand suitall rights reserved
Halpern x J Brand leather pantsall rights reserved
The genesis of this collab began in Los Angeles, where Halpern visited the J Brand archives and observed the intentionally unstudied way Sunset Strip denizens wear jeans. “When I began designing the collection in Los Angeles it was really great to spend some time in their headquarters in downtown LA, learning about all of the different ways we were able to manipulate, treat, wash, and foil this material,” the designer begins. “LA is also a great place to see how people really wear jeans today; being able to spend a good amount of time out there observing the denim capital of the world was fabulous.”
Emphasis on fab. “I still think it is really important to get dressed even when working from home,” he continues. “Now, I am not saying you need to put on a sparkly pair of jeans at 7:30 in the morning, but, putting on a freshly (self-ironed) white shirt and great pair of jeans is a brilliant way to feel confident in your work—even if the Zoom call doesn’t pan down that low. Jeans are not sweatpants, let’s be honest, but I always feel my posture and even my conviction is stronger when I am wearing something like this. Lastly, I am really hopeful for the future; for me, this is a huge part of fashion. Being able to look forward to future joys is one of the main reasons I am a designer today, so I know one day when it is a bit of a safer world out there for all of our loved ones, we will once again be reunited face to face and dressed to the nines.”
J Brand x Halpern super-wide trousers
J Brand x Halpern super-wide jeans