Photo: Courtesy of Co

In the face of a dizzying landscape of “stretch and stretch and stretch and stretch,” what does an old-school denim legend do? In the case of François Girbaud (of Marithé et François Girbaud fame), you find some new blood. That’s how the designer came to create a capsule of denim for Justin Kern and Stephanie Danan of the Los Angeles–based label Co. In a twist of serendipity, Girbaud had first met an adolescent Danan, when he was a dinner guest at her parents’ home. (Danan’s father owned a showroom.) It was a passing acquaintance until nearly two decades later, when the denim maestro relocated to L.A.

After a reintroduction courtesy of Andrew Rosen, an investor in Co, things clicked. Girbaud was quick to embrace the label’s aesthetic, likening its sleekly sculptural qualities to the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga. Danan, Kern, and Girbaud set to work creating denim through the ultra-polished yet unfussy lens of Co—no 501-filled mood boards allowed. “[François] came in the first day and was like, ‘We’re not going to look at the past, I don’t want to see a stack of vintage jeans that you have as a reference,” says Kern. Or as Girbaud offers with his signature candor, “We are not going to the Rose Bowl and looking [at vintage] jeans like all these designers today.” The decision to use raw denim was one the team felt strongly about. Girbaud is not one to tread lightly when it comes to the topic of stretch denim’s myriad aesthetic offenses: “People think that is sexy—it’s terrible!” Its sheer ubiquity means that for many women, that fabrication becomes a de facto choice. If raw denim has lately enjoyed a surge of popularity with menswear types, that has not necessarily been the case in women’s markets, where the untreated stuff has maintained a reputation as stiff and arduous to break in. Co’s deep indigo pairs, like a front-seamed bootcut for Fall, are just crisp enough to fall firmly in line with the brand’s inherently dressy qualities. The trio all praise the material’s inherent shaping qualities, but you won’t need to take these for a spin in the bathtub to soften them up. “The entire front is constructed like a real trouser, with satin inside and grosgrain ribbon,” Danan says. “Approach it like a garment and get rid of all your preconceived notions of what a jean should look like and feel like.” Sound advice for denimheads everywhere.