Meet the Denim Buyer: Jessica​

From the buyers and designers to the garment techs and fit models, it takes a village - no, an island - to create the pieces you end up buying and loving forever. They’re created by us, for you and, for the first time, we’re giving you a behind the scenes glimpse into how the magic happens. We sat down with one of RI’s denim buyers, Jessica: a self-confessed “denim geek” with over eight years' experience, to find out how your favourite pair of jeans get made, the trends to know about and so much more.

Shop Jeans

What are some of the things that make River Island jeans unique? 

It’s such a special process creating jeans. Every detail is considered by myself and my design team, from fabric to wash and whiskers (also known as moustaches, whiskers are the faded lines that form on the thighs of jeans over time or added as a design feature.) I always say that denim is a bit like a science project because it becomes a living, breathing thing that changes with time. Our quality and comfort set River Island jeans apart. That’s what we consider before we sit down to design any of our jeans. We want them to last and to feel good. They’re the two most important factors for us. The customer's comfort is always our top priority. 

Shop Skinny

How do RI’s denim teams make sure our denim is the perfect fit?

We work so hard on our fits to make sure they are suitable for everyone. We fit each one in house on a consistent model, tweaking everything from the fit to the belt loops to give each jean the best shape and quality that we possibly can. Even when we have delivered the goods, we go back and check our work using our fit squads.

 What’s your favourite detail on this season’s jeans?

My absolute favourite detail for this season is pocket front jeans (aka, jeans with big pockets on the front). It's really nice to have something a bit different to the usual 5 pockets. This detail works especially well on our wide leg jeans and give them a real boutique feel!  

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What are the most important things to look for when buying a pair of jeans? 

A great fit that you can wear comfortably from day to night! Something that’s a bit of a staple and that is versatile enough to wear with any outfit.

Do you have any tips when it comes to finding the perfect fit?

It’s all about proportions. I'm quite short, so I love a straight leg jean that balances me out and that’s slightly cropped so I can show off my strappy heels. A flare will always balance you out because it’s wider at the hem. A skinny will show off your legs and is a classic that can be worn with absolutely anything.

Another important thing to think about is fabric. We use stretch, comfort stretch and rigid fabric and they all work differently with the body. Sometimes if you’re wearing a rigid fit you might want to try a slightly different size to get the right fit for you because rigid denim doesn’t have any mechanical stretch. A skinny jean is much easier because it stretches and moulds itself to your body. If you’re ever unsure, our denim fit guide is your best friend.

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Can you tell us how a pair of jeans goes from idea to store? 

It all starts with the design team. They will look at a 3-month season at a time, what’s working and what’s new. As a buying team, we go away and work on the new season washes, inspired by what we’ve seen on the catwalk, street style and things that are happening in the world of denim like new tints or whiskering. Then we sit down and map it all out depending on how much we want to buy of each product and wash. We work with a lot of Turkish suppliers, so we’ll go and work with their design team there to create a collection. The most exciting part of the job is when all the samples come back to us - it’s like Christmas Day! Everyone will gather round to have a look. From there, we range build it [an overview of the collection including how many styles there’ll be, the different fabrics, colourways etc and decide which pieces work for the season we’re working on. My favourite part of the process is seeing it all come to life and seeing people wearing jeans I’ve helped design out and about. 

Shop Relaxed Straight

What fits are you seeing trending in 2024? 

The fit of the season is a comeback classic: the straight leg jean. The RI straight jean comes in three different styles: slim, relaxed and stove straight and two different denim fabrications: comfort stretch and authentic rigid. It’s important to us that everybody can wear our trending fits in a way that makes them feel and look amazing.

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What trends are you loving for the new season?

We're seeing crop lengths come through in a big way this season: straight crops, turn ups, ankle grazers, crop flare and wide leg crop, to name a few. It's a key trend for summer, especially because it'll allow you to show off all your great summer footwear. Wear them for boots now and in autumn for extra wearability too!

Shop Flare

What’s your personal favourite denim style for day to day?

I wear straight leg jeans all the time. I wear them with a pair of trainers on the way to work and then as soon as I get into the office, I kick my trainers off and put some heels on. You can wear them with a t-shirt, a blazer, a sparkly top – literally anything. Plus, they’re made in a soft comfort denim that moves with my body but won’t give me the dreaded baggy knees.

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