There’s often a pared-back elegance to the style of those who design for a living. Whether it’s for ease or comfort, the minimalist approach tends to follow the personal lives of highly creative persons wherever they go. For clothing designers Micah and Jenny Cohen of Shades of Grey, their approach is pristine practicality across the board. Their personal style mirrors their line—each is a perfect blank canvas passionate about highlighting the nuance of the individual.
Hey guys! First off, tell us a little about yourselves. What have you been up to lately?
We’re both from LA(ish) and have been married for almost 3 years. We moved to NELA last year after having lived in the Arts District in DTLA for the past 7 years. We’ve been working together for the past 3 years and last fall transitioned Shades of Grey into a direct-to-consumer brand. In July, we opened our first store at Platform in Culver City and we’re getting ready to open our second store at ROW DTLA in late September.
Your clothing line really mirrors the Morrow sensibility — current, comfortable, and meant to last. What inspired this approach?
It may sound a little like marketing jargon but it really is true; we believe we all want things that reflect who we are and what we value. We believe we’d all prefer to have things we can connect with, not just in their aesthetics, but in how they came to be. We put a lot of thought into what we create and we care deeply about how it’s made. And we strive to give our customers something of true, lasting value which is why we offer high quality products at affordable prices.
Is there a specific time of day when your best creative ideas come to you?
Jenny: I’m somewhat of a night owl. I tend to get a second wind after dinner and will often work late.
Micah: “There are no bad ideas. Only great ideas that go horribly wrong.” – Jack Donaghy, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming
Therefore, at all times.
What are some of the challenges of working in and above trends in order to maintain your own clear aesthetic voice?
We try to stay away from trend chasing and just focus on what our customers want and will want from us. For us, the hardest part of the design process is “saleability” (not a real word!) and consistency. The question we ask ourselves when designing each season is how can we evolve our aesthetic and remain true to our core identity while still making clothes that will sell.
I’m always interested in what designers actually want to wear themselves. How do you two get dressed for the day? What runs through your mind when you make that choice?
Jenny: Versatility and comfort. We’re a team of two which means I’m constantly changing gears and wearing many hats (figuratively speaking only) throughout each day. Ultimately, I want to be comfortable, usually landing me in a shapeless dress or my old Levis and beat-up mules.
Micah: First, I look at the weather. Then I think about what activity I’m doing. Just kidding, I know that’s not what you’re asking. And my style is weather-agnostic anyway. I like to keep it very simple. I find that one of the occupational hazards of being a clothing designer is the fun of putting an outfit together wanes when you’re constantly thinking about putting outfits together.
Ideologically or practically, what gets you up in the morning?
Fear and anxiety. We’re constantly thinking about the business. Constantly worried that it will fail. That’ll get ya right up!
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The coolest place I’ve ever woken up in is:
Jenny: Bora Bora
Micah: Houseboat in the middle of Lake Powell. If you’ve never been, please Google it now. I’ll wait.
The best cup of coffee is at:
Jenny: Stumptown DTLA
Micah: Our house, because Jenny makes it.
A thing about mornings I’ll never get sick of is:
Jenny: The sun coming through the shutters.
Micah: Knowing the opportunity to get stuff done is in front of me. Also, that I get to live another day. You can’t really do anything with your day if you’re not alive.