Denim megalith J Brand quietly launched its apparel line a year ago with a small capsule collection. This season, presenting for the first time, the brand showed its muscle. Simply put, this collection proved what a company with a robust bank account can do, provided it's guided by a talent as savvy as J Brand creative director Donald Oliver. At today's presentation, Oliver made two points that bear repeating: First, he asserted that the J Brand woman, as he sees her, wants to look "relevant," but not "trendy"; second, he explained that his design team starts each collection thinking about denim. The two points speak to the same thing, actually. The emphasis on denim was reflected in the new collection by its focus on staple pieces—not just jeans, but all kinds of items that can be used adaptively through a wardrobe. Nothing here was terribly challenging, but Oliver's reinterpretation of familiar silhouettes was fresh and incontrovertibly luxe. To wit, look no further than his terrific navy shearling biker jacket, updated by its unexpected color and material, and the myriad small ways Oliver had reshaped the classic cut. And thus, by starting with denim—or, more broadly, with the idea of working with wardrobe fundamentals—Oliver had arrived at precisely the spot he'd been wanting to go, "relevant" but not "trendy."
That strategy just kept working. Legging-skinny jeans were tricked out with dressy coatings. Track pants were turned out in boiled wool and leather. The basic black pant got a new, sculpturally tailored shape. Jackets were shorn of their collars or trimmed in satin, while the tuxedo was reimagined as a lean jumpsuit, or a vest made from mud satin and ponyskin. Individually, these pieces felt special; as a whole, the collection was accessible yet terribly urbane. Women won't just be buying these clothes come fall; they'll be wearing the hell out of them, too.