Jean Genies

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A pair of Brooklyn-based denim designers takes us higher. By Angela Gaimari

lips_portrait.jpgWith the thong-baring days of denim not yet vanished from the rearview (pun intended), waistlines have certainly been on an upward trajectory. But for the woman yearning for a true high-waisted jean—one that accentuates the waistline and elongates the leg, as opposed to imposing the midriff and backside—options have been spotty at best. Popular brands offered their not-quite-right version of the high waist, leaving purists wanting the real thing. And then, when a mutual determination to bring back the sexy silhouette of the seventies, Dan Donahue and Loren Cronk founded Lips jeans.

Culling inspiration from vintage shopping and old magazines, a muse of the Lips boys is songstress-icon Françoise Hardy, for which they have named a jean. "She is the perfect example of that look," says Cronk. "It's a lost sex appeal that girls shy away from, that we're trying to recapture."


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Their focus on a true vintage aesthetic is thorough, including a palette of carefully chosen materials. "We don't do a lot of washing, allowing the fabric do what it does naturally," says Cronk. "We look for what we like through shade, construction, and weight, sticking to small Japanese and Italian mills." The men's versions of the denim, similarly true-to-form, with names like Chet and Buck, are for "the skinny-jean type of guy—whether he's a skater or a kid in a band."

Bringing back a forgone silhouette in rare washes is quite the endeavor, so the Lips boys don't want to see it go to waste. "It's for the independent kind of fashion girl who's not caught up too much with trends," said Cronk. "I wouldn't want to see our jeans on the cover of Us Weekly. We want to keep it small and tight and special, and keep improving the fits and using great fabrics."


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Lips denim, from $149, is available at In God We Trust, 135 Wythe Avenue (between North 7th and North 8th streets), Brooklyn, 718-388-2012. For more information, go to

A pair of Brooklyn-based denim designers takes us higher.