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BY GRACE MALINE
FROM UNEMPLOYED TO ONE OF A KIND
In the fashion world, there are few things more beautiful than accidental startups. In her senior year of college, founder Sydney Izen unintentionally began Unemployed Denim by customizing a pair of jean shorts for herself. After wearing the pair around campus, she soon received requests from fellow students to purchase custom denim jackets. Despite the fact that Izen was unemployed at the time, leading to the brand’s eventual name, she soon found herself busy designing. Though she initially ran Unemployed Denim as a side job while being employed elsewhere, Izen ultimately took the plunge to pursue her passion full-time. Now, with an office in Soho and a multi-faceted website, Unemployed Denim is making its name in the fashion industry.
Though the brand’s online store opened at the company’s founding and has now been successfully running for five years, Izen also ran a pop-up store for three months to gain expertise in retail experience. In addition to this pop-up, collaborations with some of society’s most popular brands and features in prestigious publications have allowed Unemployed Denim to grow exponentially. Mentions in People Style and Sports Illustrated and collaborations with Rumble are among the spotlights that pushed Izen’s brand to the next level. In discussing these partnerships, Izen said, “I think it’s had a huge impact just because we’re such a small brand that partnering with established brands … gives us the brand equity of okay, this is a real brand that partnered with a company I know.” Now, retail boutiques across the country are selling her products to eager customers.
Though Izen initially began her company by focusing on vintage clothing, she has transformed her brand to now focus on customization. Still, Unemployed Denim uses vintage elements to manufacture all of their pieces, even though there are few fully-vintage items being sold. These pieces, which include jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, denim jackets and more are all fully designed after being picked out. While customizing pieces, customers can personalize their items and select patches. Personalization methods for denim include text in paint, silk letters, or embroidery while tie-dye is the personalization method used for sweat sets. The patches (which seem nearly endless online) include essentially anything a customer might desire, and for specific instances, Unemployed Denim makes custom patches.
While certainly not regretful about her leap of faith, Izen has noted that her job has brought along some challenges. Having to figure out life as a founder and head designer, she has not always been sure how best to allocate her time. However, experiencing the process of transforming something from a loose design to a tangible product that comes to life during a photoshoot provides all the reward Izen needs.
In the future, Unemployed Denim plans to continue its product line and become even more of an established brand. As an owner of two Unemployed Denim pieces myself, I can attest to the fact that their products are a must-have, not only for their comfort but for their ability to help you fit in with the latest fashion trends. Having made such a splash in the small business fashion world for a mere five years in existence, Unemployed Denim undoubtedly has the potential to hold a prominent space in the industry for years to come.