Los Angeles has been called the denim capital of the world, and though that may be an impressive business achievement, it doesn't exactly say much about our fashion-forwardness. One new company, however, offers a hip simplicity and experimental spirit to the enduringly relevant world of jeans: Thvm.
The conceptual line of basics and beyond belongs to designer Brian Kim and his wife, Olga Nazarova, along with business partner Nicola Scagnolari, and when we say beyond, we mean way beyond. As the name implies, Thvm (pronounced "them") is a creative collective whose form of expression includes not only clothing but a literary journal of the same name and a retail space inside a former paint factory downtown. The space doubles as an art gallery and events venue where noted local artists such as Ishi Glinsky and Caitie Hawkins contribute installations.
"Our community includes artists, musicians and writers," says Nazarova, who met her husband while working for the clothing line Endovanera. "The magazine started as a photo shoot of all the people who've inspired us wearing our clothes. Then it turned into something more."
Indeed, now in its third edition, the magazine is a gorgeous hardbound book, filled with striking graphics, art and text — some structured, some free-form. Each "rag," as they call it, corresponds to Thvm's seasonal collection, offering an insider's look into the design house's thought processes. Ephemera, antiquity and vintage objects inspired the current line; Kim says the next one will explore patterns and the idea of micro versus macro perspectives — how things appear up close and from afar.
More important than ideas, however, is the brand's excellent fit. High-quality fabric with a good amount of stretch and Kim's keen eye for cuts that flatter set the line apart from the mall masses.
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Kim, who made a name for himself via his Echo Park storefront Work Custom Jeans, says Thvm "takes away details that aren't functional." The look is definitely minimalist — in fact, the aesthetic seems very New York. One tends to think of a more embellished jean as the preferred Angeleno style, which is what inspired Kim and co. to do something different.
"Being based in L.A., you see a lot of things that are tacky and absurdly priced," Kim says. His stuff is anything but. After only one year in the market, the brand's conceptual cool already has proved viable in both the high-fashion arena (Neiman Marcus in New York) and the indie marketplace (American Rag).
Despite the esoteric themes behind them, the pieces are relatively accessible. Indeed, for a little over a C-note, you too can become one of Thvm.