Friends, let me introduce you to Leena Similu, the new VP of Design for Equipment. You know Equipment. You wear their Signature silk button-downs with all of your favorite jeans (and if you don’t, try it!). Before joining Equipment, Leena, who was born in London, had her own collection in the U.K. called Les Chiffoniers. Prior to that she worked on the design teams at Jil Sander and Stella McCartney. What she’s started to do at Equipment for fall – and what she’s continuing to do with even greater force next season – is blow the lid off a business built almost exclusively on basic shirting. See the printed jumpsuits, the chic tunics, and work-ready blazers that just arrived at Equipment.com. And – most exciting for us – see the soft chambray shirt that Leena is wearing here (available in November). Breaking news!
Called the Mandel, Leena’s shirt was inspired by a style she found in the company archive. “The original was quite prim and really big, very 80s and masculine,” she said. “I loved it, actually, so I just scaled it down and changed the fabric.” Wearing this shirt with cuffed Current/Elliott wide-legs, Céline heels, and a chili pepper pendent that she bought for one euro in Florence when she was a teenager (“I can’t seem to lose it!,” she said with a laugh), Leena hinted at more stories to come. “Going forward, I feel like I could do something in raw indigo, like a jacket,” she explained. “I love using denim in tailored, non-denim ways.” Here, the designer expands upon her affection…
First, tell us – how important are jeans to Equipment?
It’s like they are married, joined at the hip!
On a scale of one to ten, how important do you think denim is to fashion?
What has working in fashion taught you about denim, in general?
How essential the perfect fabric choice is.
What’s the most important thing to look for in a pair of jeans?
Your inner Elvis.
If you had to wear denim every day, could you do it? What else would you need to do so?
I could. All I’d need is a needle and thread – I could customize anything.
Click on a pic to get closer…
Do you have an all-time favorite pair of jeans?
I have this pair that Vivienne Westwood gave me when I was 15 – the cut was called ‘crazy horse’ because they had a mini, mini boot cut that started just above the ankle, so it looked like you had a horse-foot silhouette [like a Clydesdale]. They were printed with Marlene Dietrich’s face. The print is highly collectible now, actually. I still have mine – super skinny, high waist… I wore them everywhere I could fake being 18! I knew Vivienne because she would cycle past my school window, and so one day I followed her home with a letter I wrote and left it under her door. She wrote back! So I appreciated at Vivienne Westwood for a few years while I was at school. She used to love us all dressing up in her archive.
Is there a denim look or fit you think will never go out of style? A trend you always return to?
There are a few: Diana Ross shot by Francesco Scavullo in the 1980s; all of Jennifer Beals’s denim looks in “Flashdance”; Helmut Lang painted jeans from the 90s; 70s hustlers; and Robert Mapplethorpe.
What look are you most in to right now?
Anything 70s. I love a big flared leg. Or a boot cut. When these Current/Elliot jeans are un-cuffed, for example, it makes me feel like Jodi Foster.
If you could give one of your new shirt to anyone, dead or alive, who would you give it to?
What’s the best possible thing you could be doing in your shirt right now?