It’s the epitome of the wellness story.
Two best friends who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, fell in love in high school, attended college together, got married and had a baby, also created a successful, independently funded denim brand called Still Here , which is offered at major retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue. , Bergdorf Goodman and Farfetch.
The husband-and-wife team of Sonia and Maurice Mosseri established the brand shortly after their 2018 wedding, building on Sonia Mosseri’s hobby of hand-painting vintage jeans she had been collecting since she was married. she was a child. A light bulb went on when the couple were asked to bring the jeans to the Capsule show and they found themselves responding to requests from retailers who wanted to buy the collection. This then included Barneys New York, whose team of merchants requested a line sheet.
“What is a sheet of lines? Sonia Mosseri remembers asking.
They did their homework and dug in to learn all they could about the denim industry. “We spent a year in research and development,” she said, studying patterns, fabrics, fits and washes. “We invested our wedding gift money in the product.”
A year later, they returned to Barneys after creating that elusive line sheet and buyers were still interested, which helped launch their brand. The first order was for 250 hand-painted jeans, which sold out in less than two weeks, she said.
They then traveled to Los Angeles to figure out how to scale their new denim collection and picked up other retail clients, including Net-a-porter. And the mark was on its way.
Although they don’t have an e-commerce business, Maurice Mosseri, who has a degree in commerce, knew the brand would need a back-up plan as all of its wholesale customers were forced to close due to the pandemic. – and Barneys would of course go bankrupt. . They created a makeshift website to connect with their consumers and this channel now accounts for 40% of Still Here’s overall sales.
The creation of links with their customers has been the hallmark of the brand since its creation. It’s not uncommon for interested shoppers to knock on their office door in Industry City and ask to come in and try on jeans. This is one of the reasons the couple decided to open their first retail store.
The boutique, which officially opens Thursday, is on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan’s NoLIta — a 380-square-foot boutique they’ve leased for the next six months with an option to renew. It’s next to Rag & Bone and close to Buck Mason, Cezanne and other stores.
The boutique is inspired by 1970s haunts and features custom Donald Judd-style furniture and chrome accents. Classic American materials such as dark walnut stained wood are contrasted by subway tiles, and a colorful lightbox menu displays Still Here cuts and painted styles that are available for purchase at the store.
“We jumped at the chance to open in New York,” said Sonia Mosseri, adding that the “marketing opportunity” for the brand was vast since the neighborhood is full of shoppers strolling the block. “We felt the community was eager to connect with us,” her husband said.
What customers respond to are the classic styles of Still Here that have been updated with a modern aesthetic. There are only six styles, including the original, The Tate, which is the one that sports the hand-painted rainbow stripe that gives direction to the brand. It is a classic high waist with button fly. The Childhood, which is more relaxed, is the most popular fit at the moment, and the Subway, mid-rise with a wide leg reminiscent of a carpenter’s, is among the new arrivals. Then there’s The Cowgirl, a model inspired by riding jeans with a cutout on the side.
Plain jeans sell for $235, while hand-painted styles sell for $280.
As the brand grew, Sonia Mosseri had to expand beyond painting all the styles herself and added a team of designers in Los Angeles to replicate the samples she still produced in New York.
They also branched out into complementary products such as a denim jacket and a line of knit sweaters and loungewear. The first T-shirt will be added this summer. But the goal is not to grow too quickly in too many categories and rather to “make really good jeans first,” Maurice Mosseri said.
Although the brand is marketed to women, many jeans can also be worn by men and they intentionally offer larger sizes to suit the male consumer.
As part of the brand’s desire to be as durable as possible, the couple have limited the number of styles and finishes available. Each jean is made from 100% unused, recycled or BCI certified cotton materials and they work with production facilities to reduce water consumption.
Although Maurice Mosseri admits that it is impossible to be completely sustainable, they do what they can. “It’s such a difficult industry to manage as a small business,” he said. “So we’re trying to find ways to be better and only use 100% cotton and limit the number of adjustments and washes.”
Another thing they have done is create the Still Here Café. The company partnered with its fabric factory, The New Denim Project, and a coffee farm in Guatemala to grow a Still Here coffee bean using composted materials from its denim production process. The medium roast blend is sold in stores — $24 for 12 ounces — and samples are free.
If the store is successful, the Mosseris hope to eventually replicate the concept in other locations such as Los Angeles, Aspen, Colorado and other cities. “It’s definitely a concept we’re looking forward to testing,” said Maurice Mosseri.
His wife is a little more reluctant. “I would like to test the pop-ups first,” she said. But they both hope their first store will be a success. “We’re really excited to finally be in charge,” she said.