Meet the Designer Duo Reinventing the World of Denim

April 17, 2020

Nicole and Michael Colovos know a thing or two about denim. Before creating their namesake label in 2016, they launched their first brand, Habitual: a high-end denim collection that received the CFDA’s very first award for emerging designers. After that, they went on to serve as co-creative directors of Helmut Lang for nearly a decade.

Now the husband-and-wife duo sit at the helm of Colovos: a ready-to-wear collection featuring sleek, architectural silhouettes and next-level denim that brings a whole new wear-everywhere appeal to everyone’s favorite closet staple.

We sat down with Nicole and Michael back in February to learn about their design process, fabric selections and what it’s like to work so closely with your partner.

Tell us about Colovos and how it all began.

After 9 years at the helm of Helmut Lang, we took a year to carefully consider our next steps. We felt that what we wanted was missing in terms of a holistic approach to making something new. Modern, wearable, relevant, sustainably sourced and made with partnerships along the entire supply chain. We spent the first two years sourcing factories and fabric mills that fit our vision. The brand has grown into an elevated lifestyle collection with denim at its core.

Describe your brand in 5 words or less.

Elevated, thoughtful, modern, sustainably designed.

What are the best and most challenging parts about working, creating and building a brand with your partner?

The best is receiving feedback from someone you trust and respect, which helps evolve the brand in a way that is difficult to do alone. The most challenging is knowing when and where to separate work from life.

What’s the inspiration behind this collection?

We wanted to explore lightness and form. Everything has a sense of ease. We created a trompe-l’oeil effect with the print on silk that looks like multi-seamed denim—which would be quite heavy—but is actually soft and flows.

We paired lightweight organic Tencel and cupro fabrics back to denim and kept to neutral colors.

What are your must-rent pieces from the collection and why?

All the jeans. They’re unique to our brand and designed to flatter many forms.

What does your typical design process look like?

Our design process begins by looking in our own closets to ask what it is we need. We want to add to our existing wardrobe, not replace it. We look at each season as a continuation of the last. It becomes a balance of adding newness and updating the essentials.

Tell us how you’re incorporating sustainability into your design process.

Sustainability starts with the raw materials. We narrow our selection down to mills that are working ethically with organic and recycled materials that do not compromise on quality. In other words, we work with the best fabrics we can find from Japan and Italy, that happen to be both sustainable and non-toxic.

That philosophy extends to every decision we make along the design process—from what trims we use, to the factories and sample makers we work with.

Now let’s talk about you. Give us your bios in one sentence.

We had to pay our dues before we could pay our rent.

What does your typical morning routine look like?

Get our kids ready and off to school, meditate, check news updates, morning meeting to map out the day, divide and conquer.

How do you get in the creative zone?

Start working. Creativity for me is in the process; it ebbs and flows, but nothing happens without the work.

What’s your go-to work outfit?

Jeans and an oversized sweater.

Favorite part of your day?

The part where everything works like it should.

Rapid Fire Q&A:

  • First fashion memory: I was 11 years old, in home economics class, and I made a pair of baggy nylon pants for skateboarding.

  • Biggest fashion regret: No regrets.

  • Current fashion crush: Detox.

  • Best advice you’ve ever received: Be kind to everyone you meet.

  • Best advice you’ve ever given: Follow your gut over other people’s advice.

  • The most memorable person you’ve dressed: Katie Holmes.

  • If you weren’t designers, what would you be? Musicians.

  • Whats your most treasured piece of clothing? Vintage jeans.