What I Know About Style

Chloe Lonsdale, Made in Heaven

Made in Heaven

September
2

Chloe Lonsdale, designer and founder of MiH jeans on juggling work, family and the search for the perfect pair of jean

Who or what inspired you to relaunch the MiH brand six years ago?

I grew up surrounded by denim – my dad founded the Jean Machine stores and my godfather originally started MiH in 1969. My mother was a denim model and even my sisters and I, as kids, used to go through the old trunks of jeans in the attic and cut them into skirts to sell to our school friends. I always knew I wanted to be a part of the fashion industry and denim was the natural direction for me to take. We have such an amazing archive of ‘70s MiH that it would have been a shame not to bring it back into production!

There are so many jean brands out there. How did you find your niche?

I have always felt that MiH offers something different to our competitors. Our history is firmly rooted in ‘70s London and we have an aesthetic that is unique in the denim market with our emphasis is on impeccable fit, clean detailing and signature finishing. We still use the original dove logo as well as paying a huge amount of attention to the small details such as the studs, rivets and pocket shape.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Competing against the American market whose premium denim labels dominate throughout the world and marking ourselves apart from them. Jeans have almost reached mythical status as women grow increasingly confused by the sea of brands, fits, washes, etc and it is an ongoing work in progress to try and simplify it for them and provide a product and service that gives them confidence and understanding in what they are looking for.

You’ve recently got married and also had a baby. How do you juggle work with family life?

It is amazing that since I founded MiH Jeans five years ago so much has also changed in my personal life. My husband, whom I met four years ago, has been an incredible support ever since the beginning and has just recently joined the company as CFO which will also enable me to spend some more time with our son. Being a working mum isn’t always easy but with a wonderful nanny and a realistic outlook on where your priorities lie it’s a great way to live and I feel I get the best of both worlds.

What’s your top tip for finding the perfect-fit jeans?

Think about your body type first. A pair of jeans is meant to flatter you and the right fit will give you that sexy, timeless, classic look that makes them such an iconic garment, so don’t go straight for the newest fashion. Also, as a rule, darker washes are smarter and more flattering, normally dropping a size, while lighter, distressed washes are for casual occasions and tend to give some curves and dimension.

How would you describe your personal style?

Classic with a twist… I am only comfortable working in a pair of jeans and simple white tee or easy shirt and Converse so I like to give it some edge with accessories or a fun little jacket. A timeless tux or blazer are always my go-tos while I am never without an oversized man’s watch and bag by my new favourite, Celine. I tend to keep jewellery to a minimum as my son pulls it all off but when I go out I will opt for one statement piece, such as Fiona Paxton’s chain necklaces, and always a killer pair of shoes, from Brian Atwood to Rupert Sanderson, which are definitely my weakness!

What’s in your secret address book?

I have Portobello Road Market on my doorstep so am spoilt for choice with all the one-off finds to be had. However there are a few places I always stop by without fail; Preen [Unit 5, Portobello Green, 281 Portobello Road, W10] is one of the few places you can buy clothes from the fantastic British design duo and now that I have a son, Cheeky Monkeys [202 Kensington Park Road, W11] is the best toy shop. I also love Loft by Design [186 Westbourne Grove, W11], not exactly a secret but somehow seems to be overlooked and is the best for luxury basics. For food, Gusto [97 Westbourne Park Villas, W2] for late weekend brunches and Taqueria [139 Westbourne Grove, W11] is a must. When the sun shines, DriDri Gelato [189 Portobello Road, W11] makes an incredible dark chocolate sorbet, which for someone with a dairy allergy is the closest thing to heaven.

Who are your style icons?

Jane Birkin, with her effortless cool and understated sexiness, and my mum. As the original MiH model she still captures a perfect natural beauty and has a special twinkle in her eye that gave an edge and sense of humour to anything she modelled. Today Alexa Chung wins every time, as however hard I try, I cannot find fault in anything she wears.

Many of your jeans are named after cities. What’s your favourite city and why?

The jeans were named after the cities that inspired them, as there is a distinctly different vibe depending on where you are and normally quite a clear dress code to go with it. London is home for me and I have to say it is where I would choose over anywhere. While I love travelling to all the far flung destinations which work takes me, I am never happier than when I’m here. It is also my favourite jean style in the range and the first one that I designed.

What are you most proud of and why?

My amazing team of girls and how far we’ve come against all odds. I continue to be excited by seeing strangers wearing the jeans and when I spotted someone on the street in MiH yesterday I got butterflies.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Massages at Zen [32-34 Notting Hill Gate, W11] – consistently amazing and a must for unwinding along with swimming at the Chelsea Club [Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, SW6], a child-free pool near the office where I can have some real me time.

What’s your motto?

You never know until you try.

Stockists include: Donna Ida, 106 Draycott Avenue, London, SW3; The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, London, W12; Belgravia, 40 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W; Liberty, 220 Regent Street, London, W1B; Matches, 85 Ledbury Road, London, W11; Me and Em, 21 Connaught Street, London, W2; Mimi, 250 Kings Road, London, SW3; www.mih-jeans.com

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