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For the founders of the Australian label With Jéan, it was love at first sight. Founded in 2017 by Sami Lorking-Tanner and Evangeline Titilas, With Jéan has since made a name for itself with its viral Andy dress, signature corsets, and cult-like social media following. But the brand initially came to be after the pair traveled to Europe and experienced an aha moment after bringing back some vintage pieces. “We bought all these vintage pieces,” Titilas says. “We realized that there weren’t many brands out there making tops you could wear back with your jeans, and we were living in vintage Levi’s.”
In the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, the founders of With Jéan share how they launched the brand, what it was like for the Andy dress to go viral, and more. For excerpts from their conversation, scroll below, but to hear it all, be sure to tune in.
I’m hoping you can bring us inside the background of the brand and how you brought it to life.
Sami Lorking-Tanner: We met when we were about 20 years old. We’d been introduced by a mutual friend, and it was just instantly love at first sight. We just started hanging out, sharing clothes, taking pictures. Then we started traveling together.
We went on a trip to Europe that my job had actually sent me on, and the trip was where the idea had come to mind. We just both wanted to do something, create something. When we got back to Australia, we started planning.
What was that initial idea? Was it based on a single design?
Evangeline Titilas: At the start, we wanted to do swimwear because we thought it would be easier and because of the beach where we grew up back home. We went traveling, and we just loved vintage at the time. We bought all these vintage pieces. We realized there weren’t many brands out there making tops you could wear back with your jeans, and we were living in vintage Levi’s. That was our whole entire wardrobe—vintage Levi’s and just some tops. That’s why it’s called With Jéan.
Since this originally started with you thinking about what you would wear with jeans, how did you feel about the fact that the Andy dress became a cult favorite so quickly?
SLT: That’s the funniest thing. We laugh about the fact it’s called With Jéan because most of our cult favorites have been dresses. Very early on in the development of the business, the dresses sort of took over everything else. That was all everyone was buying. All of our popular best sellers were dresses. We had a waitlist for—I think our first was the Isabelle dress. We had 1000 people on a wait list in like a week for that dress.
ET: The Andy dress was insane, but that product was our bread and butter for a really long time. We had the best time with it because no one really caught on to the success of it or the popularity of it. Usually, when a product goes viral on social [media], you’ve only got a few months of product lifecycle. You’ve got this short window of time before [it fades], and it really affects your sales and even your content [and] your brand. We had two years where we were selling it and repeating it in different colors. Then one day, it was just everywhere. Even the more luxury fashion houses started doing it in prints or different colors. That’s when we were like, “Alright, it’s dead. It’s time to move on.”
Are there any trends you’re currently excited about for summer?
SLT: I’m excited for a little bit more color. I feel like everything was gray, black, and white for a minute. I’m excited to mix that with a baggy pair of pants that are a little bit more masculine but still wear a bit of color to be a bit more femme. [We] tend to dress a little bit masculine 80% of the time, so I think just playing with that is something I’m excited for. I think in our new collection, you might see what we mean. There’s a pair of shorts in there that I just cannot wait to wear with every top that I own.
I’d like to talk about a handful of pieces from your brand and how the two of you style them. Let’s start with the All-Star Polo Tee. How would you style that?
ET: I’m going to say a miniskirt for that one. A pair of loafers and a miniskirt.
What about the Cher dress?
SLT: I’d go with sneakers and a jacket. I’d do a brown leather jacket or something baggy up top and then a tonal sneaker to go with it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Next up, check out our previous episode featuring Allison Bornstein.