Miaou is the opposite of basic.
It’s pretty easy for us to get excited about new designers and lines—we find new ones to fall down an Instagram hole for on a near daily basis. But when the likes of Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez support and wear the clothes of brand-new labels, we really sit up and take notice.
We first saw Alexia Elkaim’s Miaou jeans about six months ago, when she released a lookbook of her closest girlfriends (a group that included Carlotta Kohl, Laura Love, and Atlanta de Cadenet), and we liked the single style of jeans all the women wore (all different body types, mind you) right away. The jeans hugged in all the right places and had the kind of fit (high-rise, vintage wash) that was exactly what we wanted to be wearing right now. Hadid, Gomez, and their stylists similarly caught on.
Cut to us showing up at Elkaim’s Manhattan studio-slash-apartment a few weeks ago, and the designer has spawned a collection of pants and jeans, all reminiscent of the original perfect pair and all pretty much perfect in the figure-flattering department.
Once we meet Elkaim, though, and get to talking, we begin to get why a 25-year-old who grew up between Paris and Los Angeles was able to create the trouser everyone wants to wear right now (please take a second to ogle the pinstripe pair that’s part of her current collection). As she tells it, she made the first pair of jeans simply because she couldn’t find a pair that she liked that fit her in the way she wanted. “Being short and curvy, denim wasn’t really my thing,” she says. “I was working a desk job as a casting associate, and I would make patterns during my lunch breaks. I just wanted to make a pair of jeans that worked for my body.”
It was after she shot her friends for that lookbook that the concept took off and she knew she was onto something. “I just put it on the internet. I had made maybe 10 or 15 jeans, and then I sold them all, so I was like, ‘Okay, I have something, I have a product.’”
Of course, her Miaou pants are much more than a great fit (we’re pretty sure Bella could wear anything and look amazing). There’s also the finishes and—Elkaim’s signature—the grommets and belts, which, when you buy on their website, are customizable and interchangeable. “I am a very decadent person,” she says. “I love accessories, and I grew up wearing a lot of jewelry. When designing something very regular [like jeans], I think of how I can dazzle it. The belts that I made started from vintage that I sourced. It happened so naturally that I don’t even remember the moment when I was like, ‘I’m going to put a chain on it,’ or, ‘I’m going to make it with rhinestones.’ It’s just what I do.”
And Elkaim is working on new variations of this signature all the time. In her studio she had a prototype for a standalone wallet chain, new rhinestone beading, and a whole bunch of new fabrics ready to be turned into pants. (There was also one very special pair of baby blue leather trousers featuring a heavy chain belt made with one Kendall Jenner in mind.)
If we’re being completely honest, we hardly expected to be swooning over a pair of jeans that are more glam rock than anything else out there right now (interesting, seeing as Elkaim’s stepdad heads up Current/Elliott, the antithesis of her line with laid-back denim). And yet her jeans don’t feel like they’re trying too hard or even like you need to dress them up—despite any rhinestone trimming. A lot of that probably comes from Elkaim’s own vibe, which is decidedly laid-back and confident. “I think personal style is personal style,” she says matter-of-factly. “If you have it, you have it; you don’t have to think about it.”
For now, she’s pretty satisfied with her influential girl-gang fans, which is expanding to include the Parisian Gucci Gang—and one very on-it rapper (we promised to keep our lips sealed on that intel). But Elkaim has her heart set on two new recruits. “I would love for Rihanna to be a Miaou girl. I love her, she’s so sick. I also sent a pair to J.Lo. She is so Miaou.” Okay, yeah, we’re joining the club.