T Magazine: A New Brand of Jeans

“What’s better than a perfect pair of blue jeans?” asks the Australian stylist and photographer Stevie Dance. She’s talking about The Feel Studio Inc. — FEEL for short — her new line that celebrates the roots and old-school appeal of genuine denim. “Jeans define all the things I admire about style: ease, simplicity, nonchalance — the ability to be imprinted by their wearer’s character.”

Dance, who lives in Los Angeles and New York, is adding designer to a long list of other titles on her résumé: she is the fashion director for the British indie magazine POP, a consultant for Virgil Abloh’s Off-White line and a budding fashion photographer. To juggle it all, Dance is on a plane almost every week — flying cross-country or to Paris for lengthy stints — so she’s well versed in the challenges of packing light. “Jeans are all I wear, but I would have to pack several pairs of jeans for night, day and the plane, and that was so confusing,” she says. “I wanted to be able to pack just the one.”

This desire to simplify inspired Dance to set out to create the perfect pair of jeans — one that would cover all occasions, and that could be dressed both up and down. After a four-year process of research and refinement, the 35-year-old designer arrived at what she believes to be the answer: a mid-vintage-wash, nonstretch, straight-leg, button-fly pair of jeans.

She is so confident with the result that she is launching FEEL with just this single women’s style (though she says boys can wear them as well). Cut from a high-quality heavyweight denim — and sourced from the heritage supplier Cone Denim — FEEL jeans sit just below the waistline in a flattering fashion and come in two leg lengths: regular and tall. With just one cut and wash, though, getting the fit right turned out to be her biggest challenge. “We spent four years working on one single style of jeans, sampling the same cut in its entire size range (25 to 32), in both regular and tall leg lengths, as we went, and trying them on over 50 different shaped bodies,” she says, adding of the finished product: “I remember wearing these jeans on the plane and not having to undo the top button and I knew I was onto a winner.”

Style-wise, they evoke vintage jeans — the kind you might see in Richard Prince’s photography series “Cowboys & Girlfriends” — before the terms “stretch” and “skinny” entered the denim vernacular. “Vintage jeans always felt more authentic,” says Dance, adding, “I always wanted jeans that made me feel like Bob Dylan more than something I’d seen in a magazine.” A longtime denim aficionado, Dance was drawn to retro styles but also wanted to make something more contemporary.

“It’s hard to feel like the world needs something more, and I didn’t want to contribute to that never-ending search for trend-driven product,” she says. Sustainability, therefore, is an important part of the brand. Dance is working with a factory in downtown Los Angeles that washes denim in ozone machines in small batches. (The packaging is biodegradable, the tag is crafted from recycled paper, and any denim offcuts are upcycled into building insulation via the Blue Jeans Go Green initiative.)

The Feel Studio Inc. website will be the brand’s only point of sale and is built entirely around the fit experience. There’s a 10-question fit guide — a pop quiz on everything from your measurements to denim preferences — and video testimonials from different women. Dance, who photographed all the lookbook and campaign imagery herself, shot the jeans on women from across the line’s size range so that shoppers don’t have to assess the style from how it looks on a standard model. She hopes to reassure anyone who might be reluctant to buy jeans online without first trying them on. As she puts it: “We got the fit to the point that I felt that whoever put them on, still looked like themselves.”

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