Our Favorite Denim Designers Reveal Their Obsessions

Chantel Valentene of Resin and Ya-el Torbati of Ravin tell us what inspires their super-sexy jeans.


Chantel Valentene, Resin

Simply put, we're obsessed with the just-edgy-enough prints and washes (derived from synthetic resins—hence the name) that Chantel Valentene, one half of the team behind the denim label Resin, uses to make their jeans. "American styling and city-worn aesthetics" is how Valentene sums up their look. www.resindenim.com

Photo Credit: Rebecca Greenfield


1. The album Horehound by The Dead Weather

"This album was on full blast in the office at night when designing the fall collection. We were listening to 'So Far From Your Weapon' and 'Will There Be Enough Water,' eating brownies and sketching."

2. The movie Some Kind of Wonderful

"John Hughes was, of course, a genius. Watching Watts in the garage with Keith sparked a bit of a mechanic obsession that can be seen in our washes."

3. Grease Monkeys

"After finding a pair of vintage mechanics pants, we took off on a tangent trying to find ways to make grease and grime look sexy for the season. Our Black Garnet and Mechanic washes derive directly from this influence."

4. Alison Mosshart

"She's a blend of raw Patti Smith, grungy goddess, and effortless style and has the assets that allow her to turn her back on any hint of femininity but still retain a tangible sex appeal. This woman is fearless and unstoppable on stage."

5. Barbados

"Maybe it was the home-cooked food and walking along Carlisle Bay at sunrise, but after the trip to my grandmother's farm in Barbados the ideas we had began meshing together."

6. Otis Redding and NYC

"Manhattan, where we live, is our first and most constant inspiration. I walked around with Otis Redding playing in my headphones to calm the noise and appreciate the city for the concrete canvas that it is."

7. Bob Richardson and Peter Beard

"Their books stayed open on the design room conference table. As different as they both are, the common denominator was a raw and primal beauty that we tried to tap into."

8. Native American prints

"We discovered a wearable and modern way to combine print and denim."

9. Action Jeans by Chuck Norris from the '80s

"The tagline was 'Won't bind your legs.' It's just a fun way for us to remember that comfort, style, and function go hand in hand. Chuck Norris was way ahead of his time."

10. Cher & Raquel Welch

"Two women who embody an undeniable allure. They both have their own brand of chic that is authentic and timeless."

Chantel's favorite pair of Resin jeans for fall?

"The black garnets in the Catalyst skinny fit [pictured], tucked into black buckled boots with layered olive and heather grey sweaters, topped off with a vintage aviator jacket. I'm already thinking about wearing it at the lodge for the first snowboarding trip of the season."

Ya-el Torbati, Raven Denim

Raven's creative director Ya-el Torbati really does blur the line between jeans and "regular clothing": Her trouserlike pleated denim pants and her plaid skinnies have a punked-up school uniform formality. It's still all-American, but in a vintage-Ivy League sort of way. ravendenim.com

1. Uniforms

"I love uniforms of all sorts! They're inherently tailored, which is a key look for Raven."

Photo Credit: Thedandyproject.com


2. The Ink Spots

"This is my go-to music for when I sketch. They take me to another time and place and put me in the best mood."

3. Charlotte Gainsbourg

"I'm not very celebrity obsessed, but she's a true inspiration."

4. The book Robin + Lucienne Day (Pioneers of Modern Design)

"I never get tired of flipping through this book for the amazing prints and furniture. I love the clean and streamlined aesthetic of '50s modern furniture and try to translate that into clothing design."

5. Stylish seniors

"I've always been intrigued by older ladies and gents that are stylin'. I took this picture in my neighborhood. He's a poet, of course."

6. Vintage buttons

"Interesting trims are crucial for me. I have a vast collection of vintage buttons and often re-create them to use in the collection."

7. The Facts of Life

"Blair, Jo, Natalie, and Tootie defined such different style personalities from beauty queen to tomboy to nerd to chameleon. I think all of those qualities exist in the woman I design for."

8. Army Navy Surplus stores

"Utilitarian details abound in these stores!"

9. Flea markets

"An endless source of color inspiration."

10. New Orleans

"It's the city I grew up in: It's colorful, historic, and unique. New Orleans was a great place for me as a teenager to experiment with style and never feel like a freak."

Photo Credit: Appletons' Hand-Book of American Travel. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1869


Ya-el's favorite pair of Raven jeans for fall? The Morgan in Authentic.

"I love the combo of the easy, slouchy fit up top with the slim leg. I would wear it very much like the lookbook image, with my lace-up granny boots and a vintage silk secretary blouse."

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