Minding Our Business: French Fashion on Forest

Randy Kraft

Randy Kraft

Extra! Extra! A new shop in Laguna Beach shares its marquee with Beverly Hills, New York, and Ibiza, Spain, the epicenters of design and hardly the centers of shabby chic.

Robins Jeans is a whole new sort of shop on Forest Avenue. Shabby? Decidedly not. Chic? Oh yes. The retailer joins the ranks of Anastasia, Riga and Simple as home to a higher fashion product for the style-conscious.

This hip boutique offers jeans that look more like wearable art, as well as leather jackets and one-of-a-kind shoes and accessories. The jeans are crafted using denim made in a manufacturing center in Los Angeles, which was recently voted by the fashion industry as the most creative headquarters around.

That center, like the shop, uses motorcycles and guitars as décor, and incorporates Indian art and spirit throughout. For me, the highlight was fitting room curtains made of old-fashioned looking denim and trimmed with metal studs. A little bit of Wyoming in SoCal, except all this comes from a Frenchman.

Founder Robin Chretien migrated from France in 1996 and found himself inspired by the American Indian spirit. From childhood, he was enamored with the idea of flight and freedom, and the company logo – angel’s wings – represents an amalgam of these combined spirits, as well as the City of Angels, his adopted home.

The son of a designer and artist, Chretien started his career by refashioning blue jeans for brands sold at high style retailers as well as fashion boutiques. He launched his line in 2005.

No cowboy pants here, and hardly a kissing cousin of the Gap. These jeans come in a panorama of color, some studded or jeweled, and on one wall, in a fabric called stretch poplin, using a special treatment jeans appear like leather or snakeskin, while others include custom embroidery in a more classic western tradition.

Take note: if you still have your “skinny jeans” languishing in the closet, you might not fit these jeans, which seem to be cut more for models than the rest of us.

Chretien opened a shop here simply because he has a fondness for Laguna Beach, and where, according to his local representative, Bailey Matheson, tourists might return home to spread the word. Chretien dreams big, and the brand, which is currently sold in 30 countries and over 800 specialty stores, is expected to spread quickly to shops in other locations. So, while not technically a chain, at this moment, it is likely to become one.

Ironically, I stopped next door at the once-a-year LF sale, where on the front display table were classic blue jeans labeled prominently as made in Los Angeles. According to fashion blogger Jenna Egan, denim factories are as crowded along east Route 10 as Starbucks in Seattle.

Thus, the French designer imports American-made product from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach. A new twist on think global, live local.

Learn more at www.robinsjeans.com.


Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered the city for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com

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  1. Tiffany E. Ohare

    This store is amazing and the manage, Bailey is so adorable and was so helpful. I will be back!!!

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