A lifelong love affair with denim manifested when Marianne McDonald launched her Los Angeles-made label, McGuire, for Holiday ’13. After falling for a pair of Marilyn 3-Zip jeans from Guess as a third-grader, she spent years designing for Joe’s Jeans and Gap (she helped introduce the latter’s 1969 premium denim collection) before deciding in 2010 to strike out on her own. “I wanted a new challenge and I wanted to get back to making denim at a premium level in L.A. — that was really important to me,” McDonald explained.
But before diving headfirst into her own business, she decided to take some time off to travel with her family and it was while visiting Nimes in the south of France — widely believed to be the birthplace of denim — that she drew inspiration for the direction her own line would take. “We kept seeing a motif of a crocodile chained to a palm tree, which symbolized the town’s freedom from colonization and reminded me of denim’s work-wear heritage,” McDonald said. Noticing a need for denim that sprang from those origins but viewed through a modern, feminine lens, she went to work.
“Having lived both in New York and L.A., I knew that the styles of both coasts are totally different: It’s sophisticated and clean in New York and in L.A. you have that rock ‘n’ roll, beachy, boho vibe. I wanted to create something that felt comfortable no matter which city you’re in,” she said.
A little over a year since the line’s launch, McGuire is carried at Anthropologie, Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop, American Rag, Saks Fifth Avenue and J. Crew, among others, and McDonald says the reception has been “fantastic.” “It calls attention to the fact that people are ready for an independent line that’s premium,” she said.
Made in L.A. using fabric sourced from Turkey and Italy, she acknowledges that while manufacturing in the U.S. isn’t as efficient as overseas, “the end result is that you’re actually able to choose the best vendors and craftsmen for your product” and “the result you see is the best denim in the world.” “That’s why California consistently outpaces everybody,” she said.
Moving into Fall ’15, McDonald took her cues from the late ’70s. “I wanted the line to be representative of that optimism and bullishness that I think people are feeling in the marketplace,” she said, noting that even the collection’s hardware is a little brighter. Jeans span high-waisted flares and mid-rise skinnies to loose-fitting boyfriend styles, while denim skirts come in pencil, A-line and mini silhouettes.
“We’ve ventured more into outerwear with this collection because we had a great response to our existing styles and wanted to add more dimension,” she said. From moto and bomber jackets to a nautical blazer and a wool plaid wrap coat, everything is oversized with a boyish fit.
Wholesaling from $82 to $180.50, McDonald describes her target customer as “someone who appreciates quality and craftsmanship and is looking for something more meaningful in her clothing choices.” With that being said, might a men’s collection be in the works? “My husband is always asking for jeans,” she laughed, “and I would love to get into that as we go along but right now the priority is the women’s business.”