Donna Ida's Interview with Dolly Jones

Vogue.Com Editor, Dolly Jones, interviewed Donna Ida Thornton last week for an event hosted by The Industry London. Here is their review of the event.

Jean queen Donna Ida speaks to VOGUE.COM editor Dolly Jones about the path to denim and retail enlightenment at Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED™.

Finding the perfect pair of jeans can be a lifelong journey, we’ve all fallen in love with a pair only to be let down by a dodgy zip, unsupportive fabric, or a cruel cut that emphasises an errant muffin top.

The crowd at Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED™

This is where Donna Idacomes in. Over the last five years, the petite and peppy Australian’s eponymous shop has become the of finding your denim soulmate, with four prime location stores and a hugely successful online shop.

It’s all the more impressive when you consider the fact this is Ida’s first foray into the world of retail, having previously been working (rather unhappily by all accounts) in marketing. “When I opened Donna Ida, I didn’t know anything about retail,” laughs Ida, "all I knew is how I would want to buy a pair of jeans. Great service, a huge selection, and sales assistants not be rude about it if I had a big bum!”

Indeed, it was on the back of “a bad-ish experience in a department store” that Ida decided to open up shop. Understanding these innate insecurities women possess, creating a sincere and approachable customer ethos that reflects it, combined with a passion for the niche, has propelled the brand to success.

Martyn Roberts of Vauxhall Fashion Scout, David Longshaw and Kirsty Ward.

I am genuinely interested in denim, I genuinely love it, and I really, really like helping people,” the Sydney born blonde told The Industry audience. “So for me to get someone to try on a pair of jeans that they previously had thought ‘oh, I can’t wear this, I have a really big bum, I have huge thighs, I’m really short, nothing’s going to fit’, and then to see them put something on and be really happy, it’s fantastic!”

“Was that the intention when you opened the store,” interjected VOGUE.COM’s editor Dolly Jones, “that it’s not just about the best pair of jeans, it’s about helping people find them?”

“Totally, that’s the thing!” agreed Ida, making the astute point that the denim market is such that you can, in theory, buy jeans anywhere and everywhere. “The whole point of difference is getting that product to the people, and getting them to feel good about it. It’s meant to be a positive experience!”

Nik Thakkar of KARLISMYUNKLE with ACCESS-FASHION editor, Sabina Emrit.

If denim is an art, then Ida is a modern day Michelangelo. Rising at 5am every day (eek!) to be at work by 6am, she responds personally to emails and calls, and is committed Tweeter. “I hate the sell, sell, sell on social media sites. It’s just talking to people in a slightly different level”says the entrepreneur, who engages with over 4,000 followers on everything from juice diets, to shoe envy, dog hair, and George Michael. As a result they buy into the warmth of the woman, and ipso facto, the brand.

So, from the woman known as a “jeanius”, what makes a successful denim brand? Apparently in the UK we’re not big fans of rhinestone sprinkles, all we need is a pair that holds everything in, and gives us good posture. And that comes down to the basic principles of cut and fit.

“It’s all about the cut,” emphasises Ida. “You can only put so many sparkles on something, but it’s that beautiful form that Yves Saint Laurent got right so long ago. That beautifully shaped jacket or that nicely nipped in waist - it doesn’t go out of fashion. Such easy, simple principles.”

Michael Ford of Anastasia & Duck with The Industry press director, Penelope Sacorafou.

His famous quote is emblazoned on the wall of Ida’s Elizabeth Street boutique: “I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity - all I hope for in my clothes.”

Time to renew your love affair with denim.

Dolly Jones & Donna Ida

By Hannah Kane, editor of PHOENIX.

 All photos by Sam Atkinson of Sam Atkinson Photography

Get in touch with the newest member of The IndustryDonna Ida via The Industry Directory.

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