A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with a man who WWD proclaimed the “godfather of fashion,” Adriano Goldschmied. The cofounder of Diesel—and creative force behind Citizens of Humanity!—was in Toronto for a meet and greet at the Harry Rosen flagship store on Bloor Street, and tucked away in the lower level’s Hugo Boss store, we had a chat. Being a long-time wearer of premium denim, it was illuminating to speak with someone who had not only seen the textile’s transition, but been instrumental in its development as well. It is daunting to even ponder the state of denim if pioneers like Goldschmied had never got their hands dirty, innovating. Today Goldschmied has traded his Italian life for the hills of Hollywood, leading his daily life in Los Angeles where Citizens is based.
FLARE: How did your relationship with Citizens of Humanity come about?
Adriano Goldschmied: I met Jerome Dahan in the early ’90s, during my first experience in America working with Ron Herman at the Fred Segal store. I asked Ron Herman to help me find someone in America to develop a line, and so he introduced me to Jerome. Then, many years later in 2007, we finally got to work together and be partners at Citizens of Humanity. It is working well. We have the same vision more or less, but with a different point of view.
FLARE: How did denim become such an integral part of your life?
AG: When I started, the situation for denim was very different. It was a conflict of generations: the younger generation was in a clear conflict with the older generation. And in some way, denim was our flag—the flag of the younger generation. But it was a conflict that does not exist anymore, and the love for denim became stronger over time. So, through working with denim I discovered it was possible to develop the textile in many ways. To be honest, in the beginning it wasn’t real love, but it grew into something much more profound. The vision I had at the time was to raise the status of denim because it was more workwear and uniform than it was a serious material. Now it is integrated into fashion, you see a silk dress on the runway and the next piece is a denim coat. Today it isn’t just casual, but integrated at a much higher level.
FLARE: With a brand that’s constantly evolving, it must be tough narrowing down a singular vision for each collection. Tell us about the current line.
AG: I think it’s designed for a contemporary and modern man (or woman) that respects the tradition of denim. We never overdesign, we are more into the sophistication of denim: new fabrics, new washes. But a jean is still a jean—we’re not designing them with three legs. Regarding construction, we innovate but still respect the tradition of the fabric. Our customer has a refined taste and cares about the quality of a fabric. Citizens is a totally vertical operation and we have complete control over all the design and production, which is all done in Los Angeles. Normally people contract everything, but when you do that you lose control and you are not truly sure of the quality being produced. Aesthetically, Citizens are inspired by a heritage product but innovated with washes. We even have a jacket in denim that looks like leather.
FLARE: Tell us about the instances that pushed you into design.
AG: I stumbled into design by accident. It all started in the ’70s, in a time when it wasn’t about design school or getting an education. I opened a store and I was not happy about the buying options at the time. So, not being able to find what I was looking for, I decided to make it. That’s how I started in the industry. Oddly enough, I started not with a jean first, but with corduroy, brocade and sprints. It was a time of hippies, so the jean was important but much more vintage. I later stumbled back upon denim and it just grew from there.
FLARE: If you had to choose one wash, which would it be?
AG: Unwashed. A pure, beautiful fabric (for me) is the best thing. It might not be the most comfortable for some, but there is nothing as beautiful as a pure indigo fabric.
FLARE: If you could recommend one style or fit of jeans, which would it be?
AG: For me, it’s an authetic jean with a slim leg. I don’t really go out of the traditional American jean (with the straight side seam and maybe a selvage). Though I do prefer a slim fit over baggy.