It’s pretty easy to understand why we’re absolutely enamored with the Mission-based eatery Saison. With its stellar cuisine, intoxicating rustic ambiance, and Joshua Skenes, freshly minted as Best New Chef by Food & Wine, at its helm—it’s hands-down one of the best restos in the Bay. And now it's wowed us once again by teaming up with the collaboration connoisseurs over at Levi’s for a line of custom-made (and super-cool) uniforms. Designer Aylin Beyce (you’ll recall our profile on her adorable abode) gave us a sneak-peek at the duds, which successfully fuse Saison and Levi’s dual aesthetics into practical, extra-handsome pieces that work well outside the kitchen. With the charming chef jackets, navy-blue bottoms in a cool, tapered fit, a dapper-yet-modern suit for sommelier/partner Mark Bright, and ultra-covetable canvas aprons—the Saison staff are sure to be the most-stylish set of chefs in San Francisco. Click through for an exclusive first look at the staff donning their brand-spanking-new uniforms, plus hear from the folks behind the collab. Reservations, anyone?
Photos by Shilpi Tomar
We are obsessed with this collab! Tell us how it came to fruition?
Aylin Beyce, Levi's Collaboration Designer: "Erik Joule, the SVP of Mens Merchandising and Design, came up with the idea. He is a fan of Saison and the way that the restaurant is set up with an open kitchen inspired a new way of looking at collaborations and workwear for Levi’s. The project really came to completion through communication, observation, and an 'open kitchen' approach."
What was the inspiration behind the designs?
AB: "We were inspired by Levi's roots in workwear, the Saison culinary experience, and the idea of elevating workwear to an elegant yet functional design."
Saison chef Joshua Skenes shows off his custom-made button-up and French canvas apron, both by Levi's.
How was it working with more a localized brand versus some of the bigger brands Levi’s has worked with in the past like Opening Ceremony and Pendleton?
AB: "Inspiring! Every collaboration brings something unique to the table but a collaboration with a smaller, non-clothing based 'brand' allowed us to revisit our brand history and focus on product in a new way."
Did you face any challenges designing this line?
AB: "Creating a line for such a variety of body types and workwear/functional needs is challenging. Also, working off-process for a large company [like Levi's] is challenging. But we learned a lot that we can apply to our way of working as a company."
Saison sommelier and partner Mark Bright in a custom-made Levi's suit and top.
How many pieces are involved in this collaboration and what materials did you use?
AB: "The apron and the chef’s coats are the heart of the collection. Both are based on traditional designs but with fit updates and crafted details. We also added details from a vintage Levi’s apron from our archives and a vintage French cook's jacket from the flea market. I found the fabric for the apron at a jobber in LA and the fabric for the chefs' coats at the Marche St. Pierre in Paris. Because this is a small project the fabric can evolve and change as it runs out or according to feedback. The cooks pants are our classic 511 in trouser in a stretch navy twill with some elegant chambray detailing and horn buttons."
Rolling dough and looking dapper doing it.
How do the uniforms differ from traditional chef uniforms?
AB: "They have the same general idea and fit as traditional uniforms, because they are workwear pieces, but with a refined and better fit and crafted details."
The chic chef jackets, which include bits of chambray lining and one button loop in navy stitch.
How did you manage to bring both the Saison and Levi’s aesthetic in these pieces?
AB: "Both companies are interested in curating a thoughtful, timeless, interesting, crafted, intimate, and authentic experience. One is through clothing, and one is through dining. So it all came together somewhat holistically and naturally."
Levi's navy tapered trouser with subtle top-stitch detailing.
Did San Francisco culture or the city's foodie scene influence the designs in any way?
AB: "Well, in my experience, San Francisco has a DIY culture. And this collaboration definitely has elements of that since we had never done something like this before. The pieces are sophisticated, but crafted and fun. Saison is currently housed in an old San Francisco barn from the turn of the century and Levi’s is an old San Francisco company, which brings them together as well."
Levi's French canvas apron.
What did you love about working with Saison?
AB: "The food and wine! Plus, working with such creative, inspired people who helped us think about workwear in a new way."
What design rules do you follow when working with other brands?
AB: "Each experience is different. I just try to stay true to the Levi’s aesthetic, draw from our heritage, and stay open and curious about the brand that we are collaborating with."
Do you have any favorite pieces from the line?
AB: "The apron and the chefs coat. I think that the chefs coat fit would make a sophisticated jacket if it was sewn in a wool or heavier canvas."
A custom-made hutch houses the new Levi's wares on the back patio.
Why did Saison chose to update its original uniforms?
Mark Bright, Saison Sommelier: "Before we had grey slacks, a white shirt, and matching brown shoes and belts, which is how we liked it. But now the uniforms really speak and represent the space and the vision of Saison. Levi's is an amazing and changing company and they're returning to their roots: The quality, the pure rustic style, and returning to what real things are made of."
A Saison staffer shows off his head-to-toe Levi's uniform.
Why did it make sense for you guys (Saison) to partner with Levi's?
MB: "We started this restaurant one day a week and Josh and I built it into a 5-day-a-week Michelin-star restaurant that gives an amazing experience to everyone that walks through our doors. And Levi's represents a San Francisco company that was created and operates on the same hardworking principles. When they put together our look, we trusted them with every step."
Chef Skenes and his Levi's-outfitted crew.
The well-dressed chefs, hard at work.