6397, Won’t You Be My Boyfriend Jean?-------
“Boyfriend jean” imposters, beware. Where once there were only ill-fitting baggy pants masquerading under that nebulous title, today there’s a variety of more convincing options. At the forefront is industry vet Stella Ishii’s 6397, a brand born of Ishii’s own quest for the correct ratio of slouch to slimness.
Ishii, who started her career as a translator to Rei Kawakubo in the late seventies, quickly made a name for herself, and by the mid-nineties was helming Staff USA, where she brought the likes of Maison Martin Margiela and Vivienne Westwood stateside. Departing just after Renzo Rosso acquired Staff International, Ishii launched The News in 2001. The airy Soho loft-cum-sales and press agency became a quick favorite among the industry and aided in the successes of bold-faced brands like The Row, Alexander Wang, and 3.1 Phillip Lim. In the fall of 2012, spurred by forays into tailoring men’s denim to fit her own frame, Ishii launched 6397 and found acclaim and a burgeoning fan base that includes such categorically cool women as Lauren Hutton, Patti Smith, and Jamie Bochert.
Fast-forward to present day, and what began as a quest for the perfectly slouchy jean has grown rapidly: Today, denim makes up about only 35 percent of 6397′s offerings. The label’s keen eye for detail (its cult favorite Twisted Seam denim was an homage to the way a man’s pant leg naturally rotates inward over the course of the day) translates into collections of impeccably cool, androgynous basics. Mechanics suits, cashmere loungewear, elegant silk camisoles, a buttery camel coat—6397 boasts all the building blocks of the ultimate easy wardrobe. A fruitful long-term partnership with graphic designers Studio 191 spawned a series of emblazoned tees last year, bearing enigmatic slogans such as “High as the hills”; another boasts the reproduced scrawl of a (damned good) Nirvana set list. Per Ishii, “We have known and worked with [Studio 191] for almost fifteen years, so there’s a real sharing of aesthetics and humor that makes it fun.” And while the 6397 woman at first glance would seem to share some sartorial DNA with both 21st-century Parisian gamines and downtown Manhattan girls, Ishii is hesitant to put geographical boundaries on her brand’s ethos. “I think it’s more of a mind-set that’s universal.” It pays to be fluent in the language of cool.