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Q&A: Donna Ida Thornton ‘Queen of Jeans’

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Australian-born ‘Queen of Jeans’ Donna Ida Thornton has gathered a legion of denim-loving devotees thanks to her denim boutiques and online store for actually helping women find that perfect pair of jeans that actually fits no matter their body shape.

Since her first boutique opened in 2006 in London’s Chelsea Donna Ida has become the go-to place to shop for denim, as her boutique has one of the best edits of denim brands in the capital from J Brand to Paige, Current/Elliott, and James Jeans as well as her very own line of denim Ida.

As Donna Ida celebrates its 10th anniversary, FashionUnited sat down with denim obsessed Thornton to find out what inspired her denim emporium, her take on the current trends, as well as why skinny jeans are still her most popular style.

What is about denim that made you want to open a jeans boutique?

“Denim is so democratic, anyone can wear it from politicians to supermodels, it's effortlessly versatile and hard wearing. The perfect pair of jeans always make me feel at my best and I wanted to help other women feel the same with an edit of the best designer jeans in the world.”

What do you think has been the key to your success?

“Service and product have been to our success as we offer a solution to the never ending denim dilemma with our Denim Clinic service. Customers can select from well-cut shapes that fit well, have great recovery, are on trend and made in cutting edge fabrications. Our alterations service is particularly popular with waist, leg and hem adjustments available to turn a near-perfect pair into jeans that are tailored to you.”

How do you think denim has evolved since you launched Donna Ida?

“It's been ten years since I opened the Chelsea boutique and so much has changed. Believe it or not, ten years ago skinny jeans were only just starting to get on the radar and the styles which were around were practically cigarette legs by today's standards. We now have modern fabrications to ensure a comfortable fit with stretch being important in how denim has evolved.”

Skinny jeans still make up most of your sales, why is this shape still so popular?

“Skinny jeans are now part of our core wardrobe because they are versatile and can be worn so many different ways which no other jeans style can. You can dress them up with a silk blouse and heels, you can tuck them into boots to team with a chunky jumper or you can wear trainers and a bomber jacket. You'll always look modern in a pair of skinnies.”

You have a love of high-waisted silhouettes - why is that?

“A high waist is classic, elegant and chic as it cinches in to define the waist. It was a big gap in the denim market when I launched the IDA range four years ago.”

What denim trends can we expect for AW16?

“The all-in-one is still going strong and we just introduced our best-selling IDA Sadie the Boiler Suit in Blackest for AW16 which is flying out. Distressing and customisation is also popular so we do can bespoke styles with rips, released hems and abrasions.”

If we only bought one pair of jeans this autumn/winter what would it be?

“IDA Rizzo the Ankle Skinny in Thunder; it's a high waisted ankle skinny in a dark grey shade with gentle distressing to wear all-year-round.”

How did creating your own denim line come about?

“A good customer of mine called Jeanie was looking for high rise cigarette jeans and I realised I didn't have what she was looking for so I made it myself. The IDA Jeanie the Cigarette was the first style I created and part of our core offering.”

Your line is much more than just denim, why is that important to you?

“I wanted to create the modern wardrobe with denim as a foundation and key pieces like silk blouses and beautiful cashmere to finish the look.”

You recently did a collaboration with Jaeger - how did this come about?

“I met Liza Webb from Jaeger at a dinner and we hit it off. The brands work well together and I loved the idea of creating a capsule collection for an iconic brand.”

Who is your denim icon?

“Kate Moss always looks amazing in jeans and pioneered the modern skinny jeans look.”

Do you have a favourite denim brand, other than your own label?

“Frame Denim and J Brand for me are my favourites as they offer a good consistent fit and cutting edge shapes.”

How does a new denim brand get your attention?

“A new denim brand needs to have great products first and foremost, the key is to get the fit right and everything else comes after that.”

Donna Ida has two boutiques in Draycott Avenue in Chelsea and Elizabeth Street in Belgravia plus e-commerce at donnaida.com.

Images: courtesy of Donna Ida

During the month of October, which sees Denim trade fair Kingpins and the Global Denim Awards taking place, FashionUnited focuses on Denim. For all our articles on Denim, click here.

Donna Ida
Donna Ida Thornton