BEHIND THE SEAMS: GETTING PERSONAL WITH JANICE, OUR VICE PRESIDENT OF DESIGN
You’re well aware by now: we make great jeans. But what you’re probably not aware of is what goes on behind the seams—basically, the creative minds and techniques behind our perfect fits.
That’s why it’s about time you meet Janice, our Vice President of Design and expert on all-things denim (seriously). You have her to thank for dreaming up your favorite fits, oh-so comfy fabrics and always-authentic washes. She’s also responsible for our best-selling plus-size collection. Being plus size herself, she obviously knows a thing or two about what these women want, bringing a personal perspective to the collection that’s impossible to replicate.
So, after 25 years with the company and over a decade of being our plus-size secret weapon, she’s finally stepping into the spotlight to share her story and all the details that go into our amazing plus fits. Read on for an inside look into Janice and her one-of-a-kind designs.
What’s the story of how you started with Silver Jeans Co.?
I started working at the factory in high school doing work-study for my fashion program. It was my first introduction to denim and I fell in love.
I then competed in the Silver Jeans Co. denim competitions and was one of the winners for that year. I accepted a job working in the summers between school sessions. I worked in a variety of departments really moving around learning the business from the ground up. Silver Jeans Co. was just a year or two old so I was there from the beginning.
Did you always know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I always loved vintage and making my own clothes. I took a fashion course in high school on a whim. I remember there was a cute boy in the class. He and I still laugh about how he got me interested in fashion. He and I are friends to this day.
Once I received some formal training in pattern making and draping I was hooked. It was amazing to create the clothing that I could not find in the city I was living.
What is your background/training in design?
I took a high school vocational program which taught me industrial manufacturing processes as well as pattern making. I then went to university in Toronto to study design. Most of my denim training was hands on and learned at the factory. There’s nothing better than the school of hard knocks to get practical training. Denim is such a unique area of expertise and really needs to be learned as you go.
Do you describe yourself as plus size?
Yes, I think I am the quintessential plus size customer. I spent years trying to achieve the fashion industry ideal, which regardless of my size, my body type would not meet.
Being plus size, what’s the biggest problem you face when jean shopping (or just shopping for clothes in general)?
Really it is getting premium items in my size. So often if something is cutting edge fashion they stop at size 32 or Medium. For jeans, I make them for myself. If I want a belt for example and trying to get a certain quality it means searching the internet for hours. I am very picky and know what I want but finding it in my size can be a challenge.
How long have you been designing plus-size denim for Silver Jeans Co.?
I think it has been 10 years now.
How has being plus size influenced your designs?
Being plus size allows me to see and understand fit issues for different body types. Very few of us have perfect bodies so understanding and providing solutions for both men and women are key. Everyone wants to feel comfortable and look great.
How are our plus-size jeans different from other brands?
We develop our own patterns specifically for the plus body type and then adapt them for our various rises, fits and leg openings. A high-rise skinny has totally different proportions than a mid-rise bootcut, and we pay attention to that. Also, rather than grading up from the regular ladies’ sizes, we create the perfect plus base size 16 and model each size after that. Not many other brands do that so I think that’s what sets us apart.
How do you want plus-size women to feel when wearing our jeans?
I want them to feel sexy, and one of the group. Also, that we thought of them first and they are not an after thought.
Are there any tips you can give plus-size women when it comes to jean shopping or shopping in general?
I would say spend the money on denim. The fabrics that you get will retain their stretch and not bag out. I tend to go for more expensive classic pieces that are seasonless. A great denim jacket is a must for layering.
I personally invest in cashmere sweaters and like soft longer-line shirts. I purchase clothing that is body conscience to show my curves without being too tight or revealing. This enables me to layer pieces together.
Get some great classic pieces and then play it up with seasonal showpieces. I personally prefer softer washes with less sanding when it comes to denim.
Do you have any advice for plus size women on how to be more confident like you are?
I am not sure I am that confident, I don’t think any of us are really, but if you believe in yourself and show off your assets you can feel amazing.
Stay tuned for more about Janice and our plus-size collection coming up this season!