Behind the Blues Interview Series: Donald Johannesson of Dish Jeans

by Jaime on May 1, 2010

I’ve already learned so much from Donald in the time that I’ve been chatting with him – he’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the fashion industry and really knows his stuff. Plus, he’s fun… and has been an extremely integral character involved in bringing Dish Jeans to this site! Enjoy the interview, and be sure to leave some fun comments below!

What is your favorite pair of Dish Jeans?

That’s a tough question because Dish’s fits have been developed to look great on so many body types and shapes. Plus, everyone’s “favourites lists” change over the seasons. Right now I’m really loving our Paris Ultra Skinny (they make a woman’s legs look extremely long and lean!), which we’ve had for a few years and was definitely a precursor to the current Jegging trend (which we also address with quite a wide range of choices). However, I’m also liking the other end of the spectrum in our wider flare silhouettes again – it just seems like the right time to bring them back – and they look fresh after so many Skinnies! We’re even adding a special slightly kick-flared Jegging to the mix because it looks NEW and exciting, and is amazing on body!

… and what is your favorite pair of jeans – for you – overall?

That’s easy! I have been a huge fan of Marithe & Francois Girbaud since they first invented stonewashed denim! And by quirks of fate I was actually lucky enough to know them in the early/mid-80′s and helped them launch their line in the US at that time. Francois is actually the person responsible for my manic obsession with the fitting of jeans – but I digress (as usual!). in the mid-90′s I treated myself and bought an exorbitantly priced pair of their incredible leather jeans in Paris – black, almost totally seamless through an amazing feat of ergonomic fitting, and so soft and unbelievably supple – they had such a way with treating leather – in finish and fit – true masters! But they were SO worth it. In fact, I wore them only yesterday to videotape an in-store event I was doing for DESI  just outside of Vancouver – and I still get compliments on how fantastic they are – the cut of the leg is so uniquely special and the fit superb! To be perfectly honest, I have the same jean in four different denim variations as well!

What was your first pair of designer denim (if you remember)?

Aha! A simple short answer at last (well, for me, anyway!) – in the late 70′s, the Girbaud Cowboy jean (before they eventually did the Skinny Cowboy which took America – and the world – by storm!) – pegged, carrot shaped, small pleats at the front waist as if it were cinched in to fit – it changed denim jeans as we all knew them – and really started the revolution! Such great memories just thinking of those times …

Do you think there are differences between Canadian and US denim styles?

I think the actual trends are the same because our countries are so intertwined and everything now is so global and immediate (just look at your blog for example!) – it’s just the timing of when those trends peak that differs. But that happens between US regions, Canadian regions, North to South, East to West. It’s just a matter of believing in and creating the best trends you can and then making sure you ship to the appropriate customers as they need them – and not giving up on a trend too soon to miss the areas slower on the uptake. The timing is getting closer together but there will always be a difference – if only because the US is so much larger – it just takes longer for a look to be saturated there than here in Canada. In the end, all the trends start to overlap – and it really gets back to wearing what is best for you – no matter on which side of the border you reside!

Your team is currently designing the newest line at Dish. Anything we should be looking forward to – or any little secrets you can share?

Dish has been around for a number of years in Canada but is brand new to the US. DRT is brand new. DESI is in its infancy. We boldly took very progressive steps during some of the worst economic times in decades – and I am so pumped by the results. More and more people are discovering us (thanks in part to you yourself!!!) and I firmly believe this is Dish’s time – as three individual brands built to address a truly diverse market and yet work beautifully side by side (by side), but I’m particularly confident that this is Dish’s time as a company as a whole to become a very important global player in the jeans market – the market we all are complete fanatics about! The Dish team is an incredible group of people. As for secrets … I’ve already dropped a few hints for those paying attention … :-)

If you had one personal tip for DD readers, what would it be?

Be true to yourselves. Don’t be swayed by hype and big talk – find the look that’s right for you – the one that makes you genuinely comfortable in your own skin. One of our tag lines is “Love the genes you were born with and wear the jeans that are truly you …” – words to live by – especially if you’re a denim maniac like all of us at Dish!!!



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