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|When Daisy von Furth first showed up to work as an intern at a teen magazine, staffers were mystified by her wardrobe - nylon Danskin leotards and big old bell-bottoms like the girls work in the movie Foxes. (This was in 1989, well before mainstream designers like Calvin Klein began mining the teen-trash aesthetic.) Abandoning her vintage Landlubbers for corduroy boot cut Levis, Daisy moved on to styling videos for bands like the Breeders and the Lemonheads. Since 1994, she's co-designed the X-Girl label with her style sister Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, and each season they come up with a collection of shirts, jeans, and dresses that fit just so. And now she gets to wear her own clothes.
MARY: So I stopped by the store on my way over.
DAISY: We're gonna get spring stuff in there. All the stuff there now is fall. We had one thing I was trying to perpetrate as spring, which was the thumbhole dress. It has sleeves that are too long, and your thumb sticks out. We've only got a few in because you never know how well something like that's going to sell. I really want the spring stuff in the stores by March 1st, but people are actually used to us being really late.
MARY: Well, isn't that the way people want to shop?
DVF: Yeah, even though it makes more sense to buy your spring stuff closer to spring, people get kind of antsy.
MARY: Are you still designing behind Seventh Avenue?
DAISY: We're trying to catch up a little bit more, and this fall will be the first time that people can see samples ahead of time.
MARY: So when was X-Girl born? Was it one person's idea? Or was it you and Kim?
DAISY: I had been working at the X-Large store here in New York, and they knew that Kim and I were good friends and that we did all of our shopping together, so they said why don't you and Kim do the girl's line? And the X-Girl name came up because of X-Large. There was really no significance to Generation X.
MARY: I never even thought of that.
DAISY: Generation X had just come into the lexicon, and people were like, what does that mean? And at the same time it was also when girl power and pussy power started. But there was really no significance to the name. It wasn't girl power or anything. But then, depending on who was asking, we could always spin some meaning out of it.
MARY: Was it meant to tie into the X-Large boy style?
DAISY: Only in terms of its casualness and its everyday thing, and just the fact that X-Large was designed by guys and not by designers. And that it was inexpensive. X-Large was doing big oversized stuff because it was still in at the time, but girls were getting sick of that. So we didn't tie into their aesthetic.
MARY: Do you still try to keep everything below a certain price point?
DAISY: We do. We try to keep everything as cheap as possible. You can complain about our pants, but, hey, they're $32. Give us a break, you know what I mean? It's more fun. It makes people take the clothes less seriously.
MARY: When I was in the store today, there were two women who were clearly from uptown, and maybe even in the fashion business. And at the same time there were some French tourists yammering on about APC. And at other times, I've seen moms and daughters in there.
DAISY: That's totally the way it's supposed to be. But some people actually get turned off by the low prices because they think that it can't be any good. We're not claiming that this fabric is going to feel fabulous against your cheek or anything...But sometimes I think they would understand us more if it was more expensive, and the fabric quality was better.
MARY: But you and Kim are fiends for the perfect fit.
DAISY: We have our own ideas about fit. I mean, everybody's ideas about fit are so idiosyncratic, so we try to go for the perfect fit on us.
MARY: Are your ideas in synch?
DAISY: Kim's always looking for shoulder room. And I'm always looking for it to be really tight. Kim's sort of long-waisted, and I'm kind of high-waisted, so it evens out. So many clothes you see in magazines are really cool, but they only look that way on a really tall, six-foot model. Like Guess Jeans: it's actually not that they're too small, it's that they're too big. I mean, the crotch is too long, and they come up too high and the thigh is too wide. So many things look cool in magazines, but aren't going to fit you that way.
MARY: So what's the fit with the jeans?
DAISY: Our jeans are definitely very tight, because we believe that everything ought to be held in. You don't want room to roam.
MARY: No room to roam.
DAISY: Exactly. They're meant to fit within an inch of your life. One of the things we try to avoid is the womanly, high, sort of sculpted, narrow waist. Some people don't get it, but that's how we do it: a little bit big in the waist, tight everywhere else. Narrow leg, but not totally tight all the way down.
MARY: And what about the T-shirts?
DAISY: Our shirts are designed long and lean, not tight and small. In the very beginning, they were like that, but we got over it really fast. We weren't even into that when we were doing it.
MARY: Do you have a theme for spring?
DAISY: Fall was a little obscure. It was Destinations, Explorations and Communications, and all that had to do with Jacques Cousteau and clothes you wear, travel-wise. Clothes you could wear on-the-go. This time, it's much simpler: Sand, Sun, and Fun. And even though it's completely unoriginal, to me it's always about Keith in white jeans and an orange T-shirt. You know, wherever he was in his tax-dodging days. The silhouette might be different, but that's always what I'm thinking of. Our pants this time around will be generic, a pair of pants that almost have no feature to them except that they come in white. And we're also doing a pair of jeans that are short, but not clam-diggers. Because a lot of tall girls were wearing our jeans, and they were a little short on them, and they really liked the way it looked. But short girls never get to do that. They still have to roll them up. So these are high-waters on purpose, so that everybody can have that kind of Brigitte Bardot look. They'll be very thin, and pink.
MARY: Has the style changed over every season? Has there been an evolution?
DAISY: At the very beginning, we were into the sporty, more tomboyish look. We had been into that for awhile. And it was kind of embarrassing, because by the time it really came out, we were completely over it.]And then we started shifting into more feminine stuff.
MARY: Like the dresses.
DAISY: Right, a lot more conservative, and less trendy. We also decided that we didn't want to make up a whole new collection every season. After all, it's not like you decide every three months that you want a completely different style. We were looking more at APC and agnès b. They repeat a lot of stuff, using different fabrics. But you have to watch that because even though it's good not to be trendy, it can get really boring. Sometimes you walk into agnès b., and you're like, I'm gonna kill myself. So what we've always had that hasn't changed has been a very clean, uncluttered look. It's just gotten perhaps a little more sophisticated and adult.
MARY: You're not doing suits, at least, not yet.
DAISY: We are doing a blazer for fall, but that's coming more from Angus from AC/DC. We call it the Angus blazer. It's more of a Brit schoolboy look. For the people we dress, it's unusual to look to Europe, because everybody looks to America for street style. Even though our clothes have got a very American feel, because they're so casual and cheap, we're looking more to Europe. and even though our clothes seem completely banal, we think of them as very glamorous and chic. We think of them as kind of jet-setty.
MARY: I think your dresses are really glamourous.
DAISY: Yeah, me too. We try to do stuff that's kind of glamorous, but that you can wear every day. We try to do glamour on a low scale for everybody. In the beginning, we were interested in looking kind of sporty and almost like poor people. and now we're more into looking not like poor people. That moment has passed, where we were aping white trash. Now we're more into something from a Godard film, so that changes the whole look of the clothes.
MARY: When you talk about the people that you dress, do you have people that you think about who you really know?
DAISY: First of all, we think of ourselves. I think the stuff we do the best is the stuff where we say, this is something I'm gonna wear. And then we try to think of almost everybody, from the younger girls to the office girls to the CondÚ Nast editors.
MARY: Do you and Kim both try to wear X-Girl all the time?
DAISY: I do, because I figure if I'm not gonna wear it, who is? And I consider myself a billboard, because you might as well get free advertising. I also wear the things that maybe aren't selling as well. Not necessarily the flops, but things that are overlooked like the thumbhole dress. I figure, I'll show people, even on my walk to the drugstore. And I also like to combine things. APC and X-Girl really go well together.
MARY: I still haven't gotten anything at APC. Walk in. Walk out.
DAISY: Well, it's so expensive.
MARY: Someday I'll get something, but it's going to take a few years. Something that I really really really can't live without.
DAISY: Well, if you wear X-Girl consistently, and that's all your wear, then you can jones for a cashmere sweater once in awhile.
MARY: Do you see yourselves as designers in the same sense as, say, a Marc Jacobs or an Anna Sui?
DAISY: I don't think of us as designers because we didn't go to school. I don't think you have to go to school, but neither of us did. And having met designers like Marc Jacobs, they're so much more passionate. I think you have to earn the privilege to be called a designer. Their whole lives revolve around it, and they're so passionate about it, and that's just not the case for us. We're just basically taking stuff from everyday life, and making clothes for fun that we can wear. That's a big difference from doing a whole design statement. We're more on the Inès de la Fressange dilettante tip. We're just coming from a different angle. And actually, she does great clothes.
MARY: They're beautiful, and they're very wearable.
DAISY: Sometimes you just want a mix of both. I mean, Helmut Lang is Helmut Lang. There's room for all different types of people who make clothes. We don't perpetrate to be anything we're not. We don't pretend we're brilliant or anything. That's why the store is neat, because it's kind of like a lab, and you can see what sells.
MARY: So you have a store in New York, and another in LA.
DAISY: Yeah, that's more run by the people out there. We also have one in Tokyo, and they want us to open up more in Japan.
MARY: Do you know how many agnès b. stores there are in Japan? OK, there are seven in this country, there are 24 in France, and there are 42 in Japan.
DAISY: That's what they told me.
MARY: Are you getting ripped off at all? Do people steal your designs?
DAISY: We had more of that in the beginning. In terms of the whole youth culture at that time, there were these kinds of rip-offs. Even our own designs, sometimes our T-shirt designs were a joke on agnès b. It's just the way of the world. I mean, if we see something in Urban Outfitters that's like our stuff, that makes us happy because it shows that we've had an impact.
MARY: Do you have any comments on the recent "uglification" of fashion?
DAISY: I'm very much against it. I think it's much more of a valid thing in Europe because here everybody dresses ugly-whether they do it intentionally or unintentionally. In Europe there really is this oppressive blazer, jeans and ponytail syndrome. The whole BCBG thing, Sloan Rangers. That's so prevalent in Europe. But here, you have to really search to find those people-and if you do see them, they're all Europeans anyway. I can understand how that's liberating in Milan, where all the women wear Ferragamo's, but here that's so tired. Kids in particular have been wearing shirts with floppy collars and polyester prints for the past four years. So to me, it seems really tired. It just shows how rarefied these people are, saying, Oooh, look, we're dressing in something ugly.
MARY: I read, for probably the fourth time, in Womens Wear that not only Prada, but Tom Ford and Armani people were recently seen shopping and buying in Smylon Nylon.
DAISY: That's one of the things that X-Girl rebels against. Everybody goes through zany things-you saw me in the star-spangled bellbottoms-but we're really not into that anymore. To go zany to like, the punk-rock shows is really unoriginal. It's been done to death. Why not go in a cashmere sweater and a long, moderately A-line skirt.
MARY: It seems you've become a lot more pared down and femme.
DAISY: We try to make clothes you can wear every day. That's the other part of this whole ugly-zany thing. You wear that elaborately striped and checked shirt once, you can't wear it again. I think it's cool to wear the same clothes every day. If you have the confidence, nothing is cooler. But I don't. You know, "Here she comes in the big lime-green shirt again." But you can wear our clothes every day, and people wouldn't even notice. Or they should notice. I've said this before, but our things are like basics for cool girls.
MARY: Do you have a following - do you get letters?
DAISY: Most of the ones I read are complaints. Somebody will say, I can't fit into any of your clothes, and you're all too small, and you're perpetuating the beauty myth. The thing people don't understand, as you know, is that small people are discriminated against. And we do have a few things in each collection that a big girl can wear. But if big girls don't look good in jeans anyway, don't complain to me. If the jeans don't fit you, you probably should be wearing one of our skirts. From our office you can see the store, and every time I see someone coming out without a bag I say, who is that person coming out empty-handed?
MARY: You need a different location.
DAISY: I'm not that obsessive. In fact, sometimes we just say, fuck it, try not to care. It's one of the things that keeps us different from the designers. Marc Jacobs really can't say, fuck it. It's his bread and butter. And all his friends are fashion people, so if something doesn't work out, everybody's saying, ha ha, did you see his skirt? Of course, most of the time, his stuff does work out, so it's not a problem. Whereas if one of our skirts doesn't work, it's not like everybody's whispering, Oh god, there's Daisy...For us, it's not our whole life.
MARY: Not trying to be nosy, but isn't X-Girl going to be pretty viable in a few years?
DAISY: It started out really gangbusters, and then as you try to grow and expand, that can be a little bit of a problem. It does really well, but it's all about strategizing and profit margins, and all these things that we don't understand. It does well, but you never know. I'm afraid that I'll be talking to a magazine one day, saying X-Girl this and X-Girl that, and the next day I'll find a FOR SALE sign on the shop window.
MARY: But you're doing really well.
DAISY: Yeah, it does well, but we just take it one day at a time. One thing I learn more and more every day is that it really is just the rag trade. So we always think we're successful if we see someone wearing the clothes on the street. They're wearing our clothes, and they look really good.