What happens when two former Vogue writers take their fashion-world expertise and apply it to their true-blue love of denim? Well, only very good things, of course. Jane Herman Bishop and Florence Kane are two ladies after our own hearts, having dreamed up Jean Stories, a site dedicated solely to the appreciation of, you guessed it, jeans. So it’s only entirely appropriate that we spent a day with them at their East Village studio bonding over our indigo-hued mutual obsession.
Launched in November 2013, Kane and Bishop’s site evolved out of what you could call their own jeans stories. “The story goes that when I was an infant, my mom would put me down to sleep behind the original jean bar at the store on Melrose while she was working with my dad,” says Bishop, whose father, Ron Herman, brought a whole new meaning to LA shopping with his eponymous, ahead-of-the-curve boutiques. “When I was 19, I went to work behind that very same bar. Denim has always been part of the conversation at my family dinner table. I learned most everything I know about it from my dad.” Like Bishop, Kane partly attributes her own denim affection to nostalgia: “I’m at my most comfortable in jeans, and if I look back on my best memories, chances are I was wearing denim.”
It’s exactly this kind of personal perspective that fosters the content of Jean Stories. Conversations on the site dig a bit deeper, offering a richer profile of the person behind their favorite pair. Artist Malu Byrne, designer Stella Ishii and stylist Kate Young are among the many handpicked muses who have shared their denim-laced tales. “It’s just so fun to hear all of the deeply personal and unique details that each interview brings out,” says Bishop. “We’re talking to all of these people about the same thing, and yet each of their stories is so different.” Adds Kane, “And we’ve learned something about each of our subjects that has surprised us.”
A site entirely devoted to any other one fabric or garment likely wouldn’t resonate as well (T-Shirt Stories just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?). Kane credits this to denim’s long-lasting quality and universal appeal: “In terms of fashion, jeans are an equalizer—they’re worn by so many different people with such diverse lifestyles. I don’t think you can say that about any other piece of clothing. Jeans are individual and that’s endlessly interesting.”
The two collected image after image to inform the website before it officially launched. As for their favorite denim moments that served as style inspiration? They look back fondly at the ’90s, the height of casual-cool and supermodel-dom. For Kane, “It’s a tie between the January 1990 cover of British Vogue—with Naomi, Linda, Tatjana, Christy and Cindy all wearing mid- or high-rise, straight-leg jeans with Giorgio di Sant’Angelo wrap tops—and Kurt Cobain in his patched-up pair at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards.” Bishop refers to “a photo that Annie Leibovitz took of my favorite models of the ’90s—Kate, Shalom, Carolyn and Amber—for Vogue. They’re in baggy jeans with casual tanks and are barefoot. I always go back to this for inspiration—the unfussy attitude is exactly what wearing denim feels like for me.”
When it comes to finding that dream pair, Bishop claims it’s “the denim itself” that matters, while Kane says “they can’t be too constricting—jeans should be comfortable!” When presented with the fantasy scenario of taking their Madewell jeans anywhere in the world, both women kept things decidedly outdoorsy and road trip–worthy: Kane would traverse the desert beauty of West Texas, from El Paso to Marfa to Alpine, while Bishop would ambitiously tour the country’s national parks (yup, all of them).
So what’s next on the horizon for this denim duo? “More stories, more to love, more to live in and maybe a collaboration…,” hints Bishop. Fortunately in the meantime, there’s plenty of indigo-hued goodness to love. Dive into their addictive denim tales on JeanStories.com.