Interview: Amie Gaines from Level 99

Level 99, known for their wide leg, high waisted and trouser cuts, offers an edgy take on denim-based sportswear. Wearable, accessible & modern, this distinctive collection is handcrafted for superior fit & attention to detail. Using only premium fabrics & the highest quality materials, Level 99 incorporates current trends without being dictated by them. This versatile collection can be mixed and matched & incorporates a variety of styles, pockets, washes & finishes. With an extreme focus on a flattering fit & what looks good on a woman’s body, Level 99 takes today’s woman seamlessly from the office to a dinner date in comfort & style.

Celebrity Clientele includes Katie Holmes, Katherine Heigl, and Jessica Alba.

We had the honor of sitting down with Level 99 designer Amie Gaines to discuss the line, and here’s what she had to say!

What’s the history behind Level 99? How did the line get started?

We started almost three years ago. Our entire direction and fan base started with one pant. It was a wide leg, 5 pocket with twisted seams. At the time, no one was doing wide legs, so we feel like one of the first to bring back the trend.

Who is your customer with this line?

A Level 99 girl is definitely a young working professional, who already has a defined sense of style. She’s not trendy. She’s timeless.

What are the main inspirations that have affected the designs in the current collection?

Our Summer and Fall collections are inspired by classic men’s tailoring and vintage construction/fashion. Over-sized jacket/vest silhouettes, paired with fitted jeans. Slim legs and “romantic” era inspired blouses. The collection is very feminine.

In the description for Level 99, it mentions that the brand incorporates current trends without being dictated by them, can you give some examples of trends that you all have included?

We’re aware of trends, because we listen. We like to start trends, instead of follow. We have skinnies, we have wide-legs, we have high waist, but no style is solely based on trend. We always try to incorporate who we are as a brand into everything we design.

What is the design process like for designing a new pair of jeans? Do you start with sketches or fabrics that you like?

Both. When I sketch, I can envision the garment in multiple fabrics. On the other hand, when I pick a fabric I know exactly what silhouettes will look good in it. Designing is a multi-sided process. But, generally speaking, I pick fabrics first.

What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when designing a pair of jeans?

Hands down – FIT. It doesn’t matter how good a jean looks or how innovative your design is, if it doesn’t fit, it won’t sell. Secondly, I’d have to say brand identity.

If a girl can only get one pair of Level 99 jeans, which pair should she get?

Probably the Laguna pant. It’s the pant that put us on the map. It’s a universal fit and is great for casual or professional settings.

What’s the best clothing item to compliment a pair of jeans?

A basic fitted knit tank. It’s the girls version of a “white t-shirt and jeans”. You can never go wrong with that.

What’s the most challenging part about creating a new line, is it the actual creation or the marketing that follows? Can you explain?

The actual design process. It’s hard to create something fresh, new and innovative time and time again; all while looking “singular” and staying true to our brand.

Do you have a favorite piece personally in the collection?

The Newport, from our Fall 08 collection. It’s amazing.

What is fashion to you?

To me, fashion is a lifestyle. It’s the outward expression of my personality.

What can we look forward to as far as denim styles with the upcoming collection?

A mix of slim silhouettes, high rises, over-sized tops and details, details, details! It’s all about construction and novelty design.

Level 99