June 2011

Image: Appearances Denim According to Hoyle (Jackson)

Even with their celebrity clientele, the Hallworths are the most famous jeans designers you’ve never heard of  by ADAM TSCHORN

BARTHOLOMEW COOKE

If there’s a textbook on how to launch a denim line, it’s a pretty safe bet the trio behind the Hoyle Jackson label has been reading the chapters in reverse order. They didn’t begin by hammering out a business plan. Soft-spoken twin sisters Nina and Clare Hallworth and their longtime friend Geoffrey Roiz started with the logo, hiring renowned graphic artist John Van Hamersveld to design one with a moon and stars surrounded by a sunburst.

The three employ no sales rep and no publicist. They didn’t rush to secure the talents of a “brand consultant” or reach out to one of the clothing conglomerates. They don’t even appear to have an office, preferring to meet (for their first sit-down interview) in the La Cienega office of their younger sister, architect and interior designer Jane Hallworth.

The twins are 43, Roiz is 45. Having known their partner for more than two decades, the Hallworths consider him “faux family.” The three seem to act and speak as single unit (not unlike Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters but with a plus-one). They bob and weave through their conversations, clarifying and finishing one another’s sentences. Roiz likens their communication to improvisational jazz.

For most of the last two decades, they’ve worked as costume designers, wardrobe supervisors and personal celebrity stylists. And even though their A-list clientele starts to come into focus as a Venn diagram of overlapping imdb.com credits (movies starring Jennifer Aniston and Kirsten Dunst among them), when asked directly, they demur.

Nina pushes a hardcover book across the table and says, “Maybe you could—on your journey—come to some conclusions on your own.” One of the first photos is a bleach-blond Brad Pitt in a pair of perfectly broken-in jeans. Roiz taps the photo almost reverently.

“That was the very first pair we ever made,” he says. That was in 2007, and it was one of 10 sample pairs.

Still, even after essentially achieving the holy grail of celebrity adjacency, it wouldn’t be until 2009, when they tested a capsule collection in Ron Herman (where the sisters once worked), that they would be in a position to leverage it and offer jeans for sale.

The irony, however, is, in spite of making the denims the stars who look really good in jeans swear by, Hoyle Jackson is taking a measured approach. “We just don’t march to the same drum,” Clare says. “We’ve been able to let things evolve. Time has not been an issue; money has not been an issue, and since we were already making a living, this was able to be a purely creative venture.”

That meant they could seek out Japanese selvedge denim (a method of looming that replicates the heavier denims of the ’60s) and a network of mom-and-pop factories and wash houses around L.A. to cut, sew and wash their jeans.

The line hit the shelves at Bloomingdale’s Santa Monica in March, where the debut collection of men’s jeans, cotton work pants and shirts pretty much sold in just two hours. The plan for this fall includes a slight expansion of the men’s line, as well as the launch of women’s jeans. According to Clare, “We already have clients test-driving them right now.”

While the Hallworth sisters might prefer to maintain their behind-the-scenes anonymity, Hoyle Jackson rising to the top of the jean pool might make that impossible.