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Le Chateau November Picks

I can’t believe I almost let two weeks fly without publishing anything. However, this month was probably my favourite as a Le Chateau ambassador. I picked some AMAZING items for November, and couldn’t be more excited to share them with you here! You may have already seen them on my Instagram, but here I include links to shop the pieces. Get ’em before they’re gone!

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The first piece is this textured grey knit, which is so soft I could be wearing a cloud. It also has a wrap look and an open neck. I find it looks best with a little white bralette peaking through, or with a long pendant necklace. I also find that this sweater is perfect for tucking into pants. I can’t stand the bunch around my waist/hips that results from tucking baggy knits into jeans, and sometimes I just can’t let the sweaters hang! The bottom of this sweater is a tighter, more fitted knit than the top, and fits snugly into any jeans without the appearance of ugly lines. I also love the blush tone that this sweater is available in (it comes in FOUR colours!). Shop it here.

How amazing are these pants? I’m seeing a little bit of a contemporary trend in Le Chateau’s fall collection. These elevated joggers are essential, especially as the weather gets colder. First of all, it’s like you’re wearing sweatpants. They’re so comfortable, and sit at the perfect waist height. Second of all, you’re not wearing sweatpants. They’re a more crepe-y fabric without the coldness that comes with crepe fabric because it’s knit-crepe, so your pins will stay cozy. How convenient, Montreal brands knowing how to design for Montreal weather? Shop them here.

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SASHA X ASSET DESIGNS

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a t-shirt and accessory brand at the McGill Farmer’s market. I immediately fell in love with all of the printed t-shirts and and totes, which bore poems written by the owner. Tessa Battistin is the owner of Asset Designs, a startup that emphasizes small-scale, sustainable production and the slow fashion movement. She kindly allowed me to custom order a print on a t-shirt that would be picked up for next week. When I came back to claim my new tee, I again fell for a new print that Tess had made of a Vogue cover on the front of a white t-shirt. I couldn’t just leave with one shirt, and wanted to learn more about Asset Designs and what it stood for. This is my first interview with a brand of (hopefully) many more to come, and make sure you use the code ASSETXSASHA to get $5 off your order!

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Sasha: Hi Tess! Thank you so much for letting obsess over all of your t-shirts and prints and poems and talent and overall beautiful company, Asset Designs. Also, thank you for agreeing to answer some questions for me! Where are you/Asset Designs based?

Tessa: Asset Designs is based right here, in Montreal! I’ve been working out of the Notman House, a community space for startups, since September. I do all of my printing and shipping from my studio in the Mile End.

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S: As with all typical start-up interviews, what inspired and motivated you to create your clothing line?

T: Asset Designs champions ‘slow fashion’, which encourages consumers to buy garments for quality and longevity. My brand communications seek to re-calibrate consumer expectations by normalizing human production schedules, supporting fair wages for factory workers, and offering transparency about the carbon footprint of each product I offer. As a consumer, I am frustrated with the poor quality of ‘fast fashion’ clothing. I was upset to discover that my personal values were incongruous to those of my favorite brands, which used questionable environmental and ethical practices in order to make larger margins. Why shouldn’t my environmentally conscious values translate to my wardrobe? I went looking for sustainable alternatives to my favorite t-shirts, and found none that were affordable for a student budget. I already had the technological understanding and artistic passion for silkscreen printing, so I began to apply my designs to ethically sourced tote bags and t-shirts, which I sold at an accessible price throughout university. Now, Asset Designs is expanding to offer a range of beautiful products (produce grocery bags, for example) to encourage consumers to tread lightly upon our earth.

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S: Fast fashion removes people from the design and manufacturing process of clothing. Asset Designs stresses the importance of sustainable sourcing and small-scale production. Can you tell me how you go about making pieces for the line?

T: I usually start with a relaxing day. I know, that sounds very anti-startup culture, but I am able to access the creative muscles in my brain only if I’m feeling de-stressed. Usually, an experience I’ve had or an image I’ve seen has caught my eye & I begin to draw. After many iterations of the same drawing or poem, I usually walk away from the design for a bit. Let it marinate. Next, I re-visit my progress and make final edits. Finally, the design or poem is ready to be brought to life!

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S: What is your favourite piece made by Asset Designs?

T: My favourite piece that I’ve made has been my “Pastel Houses” print from my poem series. The poem reads, “Inhabitants of pastel houses are surely happier people (a side effect of rose-tinted vision)”. The pocket poem concept fits my minimalist aesthetic, and it gives a tiny nod to my English Literature degree. I studied at the University of Bristol in the U.K. for six months, and wrote the poem about the charming city and it’s pastel row houses.

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S: And lastly, for small business owners or designers looking to kickstart their own company, do you have any tips on how to fund projects? Sounds super financial and un-fashion-y, but I feel as though not knowing where to begin is what prevents a lot of people from actualizing their creative visions!

T: I was lucky because the resources and teachers at my high school taught me how to screenprint, which requires some start up capital for the supplies. After creating a design that I loved, the Koi Fish print, I offered a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP is a wonderful, low-risk way to test out a creative idea. Before I was able to afford to offer my customers sustainably sourced cotton, I tested out my Koi Fish print on the market with cheaply sourced tee shirts. I offered one style, with one print, in only one color combination. I put images of the tee shirt on Facebook, and waited to gauge interest. If you have an idea, try to figure out the cheapest and simplest way to communicate your concept to a customer. Share this MVP with friends and family. Get feedback. Sell the simplest iteration of your idea, and use the profits to invest in a better version. This is an accessible way to financially fund the development of a creative idea.

TAKE $5 OFF YOUR ASSET DESIGNS ORDER WITH THE CODE ‘SASHAXASSET’

September/October Outfit Roundup

This month has been crazy for me. The amount of growth and change I’ve undergone within a short span of time is almost overwhelming, but I’ve made the most of it and I can’t believe that it’s gotten me this far! And now we’re in November! I have exciting collaborations and partnerships lined up for the next month, but before we plunge into a whole new season of looks and struggling to photograph in the cold, here’s a gallery of [mostly] outtakes and some published photos from all of my favourite looks from this past season. Fall is short lived in Montreal, so take a picture, it lasts longer. I mean, if you didn’t get an OOTD shot, did you even wear the look?

Click on each image to enlarge!!

Mejuri Fall Essentials: The Gold Hoop

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Now, who doesn’t love a giant, in-your-face, haven’t-left-the-nineties-even-though-I-hardly-grew-up-in-them pair of party hoops? I sure do. But for the more subdued, ordinary day, I find that they get tangled in my hair, or just don’t match the mood. See, Fridays are a more suitable hoop day. Fridays are fun. But Wednesdays are just a little excuse to feel a bit closer to Fridays, so we have to work our way there in terms of how wild our accessories are. We can’t kill the weekend too early.

I’m also 100% overthinking this because I wear the same two necklaces everyday and hardly ever put on earrings. I would abide by Chanel’s mantra that suggests taking one piece of jewellery off before leaving the house, but it’s not like I even put any on.

Apparently minimal accessorizing is a thing though, and I hardly realized the potential for minimalist jewellery to liven up a look before I heard of Mejuri. It is a high quality, middle price-ranged, small batch production Canadian jewellery line. I’ve done work with them before. One of the necklaces I wear everyday is a Mejuri gold choker. I love it. It’s so good, I recommend it to any friend who is looking for something timeless, or looking for a gift. It’s one of those brands that produces timeless pieces.

With regards to the whole hoop situation I was saying before, these gold vermeil midi hoops are the solution. I’ve gotten so many complements from both friends and strangers, and they don’t give my ears an allergic reaction! They’re the perfect look to frame your face this fall. Shop them here.

Also pictured below is the rest of the look I wore while shooting these earrings with Katie Cung (@katiecung):

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Le Chateau October Picks

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October is a weird month in Canada. Sometimes it feels like August, and other times it feels like it’s time to break out the winter coat.

Some staples for all in-between type weather includes a good pair of booties and a cozy sweater. I’m particularly into the off-the-shoulder knits that reveal just enough collarbone to remind me that it’s not that cold yet. I love this lace up piece from Le Chateau; it’s super soft and cozy and I ordered it in a slightly larger size for a slouchier look. Shop the piece here.

The booties I’m wearing here have been a conversation starter with everyone who sees me wearing them. While there’s still no snow on the ground, there’s less of a chance that I will face plant while walking (it happens all too often), which means that it’s the perfect season to exploit the ability to wear high heels. The metallic heel on this pair of booties has the ability to make any simple look (read: jeans and a knit) look a little more put together, and it looks great for a night out. The suede is also really easy to wash, since it can just be brushed. However, it’s not ideal when there’s salt on the ground. Shop them here.

Erdem x H&M: What I Would Buy If I Had No Budget

There’s only ten days until Erdem Moralıoğlu, king of florals and romantic prints, launches his collaboration with H&M. On Friday morning, I read a Man Repeller article listing the pieces that are going to sell out in 0.5 seconds, so I’m appropriating that idea and giving you the list of all the pieces I would snag if only I were not broke. Click on each image for more.

Jean Paul Gaultier at the Musée des Beaux Arts

Free love for all: that’s a movement that should be and is triumphing social and political movements this year. From Lin-Mauel Miranda’s moving speech (“Love is love is love is love…”) to the outraging Australian legalization vote (Seriously? Only in 2017?), love has the ability to bend societies to their breaking points.

A little hope for the world can be found in a basement room of the Montreal Fine Arts Museum, where Jean Paul Gaultier’s Love is Love exhibit has been on display since May until the end of this weekend. I only just got the chance to go, but there’s only TWO DAYS left to see this spectacular collection of haute couture and prêt-a-porter wedding outfits designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.

The exhibit was designed by the MMFA, curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, and has been on tour for the past five years (a record for a fashion exhibition). It features dresses, suits, and hybrids from past Jean Paul Gaultier shows, including the infamous 23 foot long veil that unfolded on the runway (could very well be wrong). The installation is appropriately set up to look like a wedding cake in the centre of the room, with animated mannequins featuring Jean Paul Gaultier’s face and voice himself speaking about the exhibition. There are other (mildly off-putting) voices and sounds coming from other animated mannequins as well, but it all contributes to the notion that the exhibition is alive; it is an issue relevant and prevalent to nearly all time periods.

Another interesting aspect of the installation were the hints of domestic scenes seemingly bursting out of the wall. Doors, chairs, furniture, and other items characteristic of the private sphere were poking out from a thick white fabric to give the illusion that they were just nearly there. It’s difficult to deny the affiliation between traditional conceptions of marriage and the onset of domestic life, particularly for women. Their subtle presence within the installation poses two suggestions: firstly, it suggests the onset of something and posits that domestic life following marriage is inevitable. This is an old-fashioned, traditional conception clearly marked by the clearly  Victorian age furniture. The second suggestion is one of resistance, or a barrier; perhaps the cloth suggests pushing back on these traditional notions, and the stark white cloth suggests a blank slate, ready to be filled in with new potential. New life comes with marriage, the installation seems to say, and it shouldn’t feel the obligation of conventional gender roles or lifestyles.

Below are my favourite looks from the exhibition (click to enlarge)

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Click here for more information on the exhibition

Bali Travel Diary

After Italy, we had about 24 hours to prepare for our trip to Southeast Asia. I’ve never experienced such a hectic day; multiple loads of laundry and bittersweet goodbyes later, we found ourselves again at Pearson Airport headed for Malaysia.

I was born in Malaysia and lived there for four years before coming to Canada, so going back to visit Kuala Lumpur is generally personal. I get to see my grandparents and entire extended family on my mother’s side. What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t have a lot of touristy experiences from Malaysia to share here because I’ve mostly already done them all at a younger age and lack updated photos.

However, this trip was a little different, because we took a girls’ trip to Ubud, Bali. Yes, I had an Eat, Pray, Love summer minus the praying. That’s for another day. Bali, though, was magical. It’s certainly touristy and certain areas are fairly whitewashed, but Ubud creates a fusion of both Southeast Asian and Western cultures that results in a marvellous melange of food, tradition, and experiences. That is what Bali is known for. Ubud, in particular, is known for its hippie vibe, and the Ubud Market really emanates this. As the only Hindu island in Indonesia, yoga seems to be a popular part of the Balinese experience, and Ubud seems to be the hub of all things yoga.

Although my trip was nearly three months ago, I think the brink of fall really makes me nostalgic of the few days I spent in Bali. Here are my favourite places/things to do to visit in Ubud.

Where I stayedMaya Ubud

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Maya Ubud Resort takes the definition of 5-star hotels to an entirely new level. Favoured by influencers and celebrities that enjoy a more off-the-grid Balinese experience, this place seems to go on forever. We were greeted with tropical fruit drinks and towels (super appreciative of that, because the drive to the resort took over two hours). Some (just some) of its features include:

  • two infinity pools (one of them adult only) overlooking the backyard jungle
  • a backyard jungle
  • fitness center/golf course/tennis courts
  • AN OPEN AIR YOGA STUDIO (with complementary beginner yoga classes in the morning and the opportunity to have private lessons)
  • there’s a waterfall on the resort (about a mile trek away but there’s guided hikes that lead you there)
  • dancing shows to accompany your dinner (traditional Balinese dance, of course)
  • the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever had (the coconut yogurt was so good I can’t even eat it in North America anymore because nothing compares)
  • beautiful hotel rooms (you can also get villas)
  • the most hospitable staff I have ever encountered: on our day trip to Tegenungan/Tegalalang/the Kopi Lewak plantation, our driver treated us to a visit to his village and was more than happy to tell us all about his culture, religion, and customs. More on that later. The convenience of the drivers at the hotel is that you have fixed hourly fees (no need to bargain for taxi prices!), AND you can leave all of your stuff in the car knowing that it is safe and secure!

If you’re looking for a luxury getaway, Maya Ubud is my #1 recommendation. I would absolutely come back here in the future, and this is my [non-sponsored] opinion.

If you’re looking more into affordable options/yoga retreats, I would check out Yoga Barn. Keep scrolling down to find out more!

Where to Eat

My family lives by this: we may not remember exactly what we did or where we went, but we will never forget or fail to tell you what we ate and how amazing it was. My mother’s side of the family laughs at my sister and I because we are “failed foodies” (apparently if you cannot eat nonstop all day, you qualify!). However, I still like to think that we have impeccable taste in food and are a bunch of food snobs when it comes to travelling. That doesn’t mean we eat at Michelin star restaurants, but we can tell you where to go.

Eating in Bali can be so affordable for Western tourists (this is true of most of Southeast Asia; the living costs are cheaper and people can afford to eat well for less. If only North America adopted this principle). Eating at the Maya Ubud was, honestly, really expensive. Yes, it was all you can eat, but you can get fantastic food in Bali for an average of USD$10 or less per meal if you do it right.

A note on currency in Bali: it is SO easy for CAD-rupiah price conversions to have an initial shock factor. It takes some adjusting, but 1 rupiah is about 0.000092 Canadian dollars, and you will never see a single ‘1 rupiah’ anywhere. Just keep in mind that 10000 rupiah is about a dollar (0.92), and 1 000 000 rupiah is nearly $100 (about $92).

Here are some of my favourite places that we ate at:

Soma Cafe (Jl. Dewisita, Ubud, Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80515, Indonesia)

I saw this place recommended on TripAdvisor, and we stumbled upon it while exploring Ubud town. It’s got amazing vegan friendly food (and I’m not vegan). I tried noni and jamu juice, ayurvedic cuisine, and learned to love tempeh! The flavour on the ayurvedic food was a little mild for my taste (I guess that’s a part of the cuisine; it’s supposed to be mild on your stomach), but everything that my sister and mother ordered was divine. I would say that trying Ubud Raw Chocolate, available at Soma, is a must. You can find it at multiple places on the island as well. The vibe at Soma is like a lounge/cafe meets restaurant meets treehouse. Check them out here.

Ātman Kafe (38 Jl. Hanoman Ubud)

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This is a picture of my sister absolutely overjoyed at the prospect of drinking a coconut (which we did every day, at least once). I lack better photos of the actual food at Ātman because I was too busy enjoying the food. This is definitely my favourite place that we ate at. It’s nice because it has traditional Indonesian cuisine AND fusion food, so there is something for everyone. This place is another yogi hub, so expect it to appear a little more on the Western side, but that does not mean that they compromise flavour! I love Southeast Asian street food – I was raised on it. I recommend the Nasi Goreng and Nasi Campur (pronounced ‘champoor’). I recommend anything with ‘nasi’ in front of it (it means rice!)

Garden Kafe

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This place is inside the Yoga Barn complex. Fresh juice, fresh ingredients, AND Ubud Raw Chocolate. That is all.

Tukies Cafe (Jl. Gootama No.13, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia)

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I LOVE ICE CREAM. It is my favourite food group. What do I love more than ice cream? Gelato. What do I love just as much as/potentially more than gelato? Vegan coconut ice cream. It is not because of the healthy connotations. There is nothing healthy about it, except that coconut cream is not dairy. Everyone who visits Ubud will want to beat the heat, and there’s no better way to do that than at Tukies Cafe, renowned for its coconut ice cream sweetened with palm sugar. This is Asian dessert heaven. AND it comes with a little coconut and palm sugar sprinkled on top.

What to do

Visit a Kopi Luwak plantation

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There is a lot of controversy surrounding this activity, and reasonably so. Luwak coffee is produced from the coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet; they have an enzyme in their digestive system that ferments the beans. People take issue with the living conditions of the civet cats and how they are treated. There’s also controversy over the fact that the coffee is quite hyped up, which leads people to feel disappointed when they’ve expected something above and beyond and end up with a simple cup of coffee. Therefore, I highly recommend doing your research. I did not do that prior to this trip, and will leave the place I visited unmentioned because I do not officially know how humanely they treat their animals. I recommend searching on TripAdvisor forums and other travel blogs before doing this. I did have a pleasant time sampling all different types of regular coffee as well as luwak coffee on my trip, and hope there’s an ethical method of luwak coffee production! When authentic coffee beans (WARNING: lots of fake beans out there) are properly brewed, it’s much smoother than regular coffee.

Visit the Tegalalang Rice Paddies 

This place is as magical and breathtaking as it appears on the Internet. It’s a fantastic hike, and not too far from Maya Ubud. It’s usually free to enter if you find the right gate (our driver was kind enough to help us with this). Crossing paddies does require a small donation (no more than 50 000 rupiah per person) to support the fields and the families that own them (they are, after all, letting you walk all over their property). The irrigation systems in this field structure is fascinating and worth a visit. Wear shoes that you don’t care about. It’s muddy.

Visit Tegenungan Falls

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This was a magical experience, and SO MUCH FUN. It’s not far from Tegalalang, so both can be visited within the same day. It’s a long way down a hill, but there are steps that help you get there (they are a bear to climb up later, but consider that your workout). Make sure you swim in the water close to the falls, but watch where you swim so you don’t bump into a middle aged guy wearing a speedo. There’s quite a few of them. Washrooms ARE available by the falls, but you have to donate to use them. I also recommend eating in one of the little restaurants just up the stairs. It’s more local food without the health food emphasis (a.k.a. delicious).

Take a class at Yoga Barn

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This place is the mecca for yogis. A beautiful yoga resort, if you will. People come from all over just to experience the atmosphere that Yoga Barn cultivates. It’s a little tricky to find because it’s slightly off the beaten path, but once you get there it’s as if the complex just keeps going forever. You can sleep, eat, dance, and practice there. It’s a yogini’s dream. I took class with Murni, and she’s an absolute enigma. It’s certainly an environment worth experimenting, open to people of all levels and experiences. Next time I visit I will definitely be going to an ecstatic dance. People line up hours in advance just to score a ticket to an ecstatic dance at Yoga Barn. Check out their website to find out more, because no description or pictures can captivate the overwhelming and amazing experience I had here.

Shop at Ubud Market

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This place is nuts. There’s Ubud’s downtown core and then there’s the Ubud market. The actual market area is marked off and takes a little figuring out to find it, but I consider the downtown core just as fundamental a component, though unofficial, of the market. This is where you shop. Bali is known for its artisans and craftsmanship, and the market is the hub of where Bali-made products and goods congregate. Popular items include sterling silver jewellery, crochet tops, rattan bags, textiles, coconut shell products, and macrame. Remember that prices (unless in a commercial boutique) are ALWAYS negotiable in the market, and you have to be slightly relentless. To the locals, bargaining is a game! A regular visitor told me to start bargaining at 25% of the original price they give you. You won’t get it, but work up in increments until you find a price that you both settle on.

A few bargaining tips:

  • do not show commitment to anything
  • don’t have your heart set on anything. It’s hard to hide
  • know that walking away can have a profound effect on price settlement, and don’t be afraid to walk away.
  • never look at the actual product when giving a price rebuttal. Always look the vendor in the eye.

Ubud Market is also a really great place to find inexpensive massages. I read on an Indonesian blog somewhere that massages are simply a part of life, which explains why they are so affordable. I found one for a total of CAD$22, which is absolutely unheard of in North America. Some places will let you bargain prices, but they’re already pretty affordable. Make sure you go to a place with a TripAdvisor owl sticker on the front of them, and be sure to read any information/pamphlets available. Most places are reliable when they are TripAdvisor certified!

I’m already trying to plan when I can visit this beautiful island next. Bali is so charming.

Le Chateau September Haul

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Montreal weather has been all over the place. In the weeks that I’ve been back, I’ve experienced chilly weather in August and near-tropical heat in the middle of September. All this makes dressing a hellish nightmare. Nevertheless, I’ve found some amazing picks from Montreal’s own Le Chateau that are perfect for late September, when the weather finally decided to let up and allow us all to start layering for fall.

The first piece I got was this gorgeous menswear inspired blazer. It’s so perfectly baggy and drapey and can transform instantly from day to night with a quick switch to a mini skirt underneath (a sort of mock blazer dress). If you’re feeling particularly courageous, wear your favourite lacey bralette underneath. I’ll leave that there.

Shop the blazer here.

I also love these baggy pants that blend together a cargo-pant concept with oxford pant cleanliness. It’s a crepe-like fabric, similar to what you’d find in some oxford pants/dress pants, but the look is a little baggier and more casual. While it’s difficult to discern through these grain-filled photos (I’m sorry, I’m a sucker for VSCO), there are multiple pockets on each side of the pants that have a satiny sheen. It’s such a perfect contrast, and makes the baggy look stand out a little more. Not that one can have too many pockets, either.

Shop the pants here.

Hidden Jeans

If there’s a new denim label worth watching since Just Jeans USA, it’s definitely Hidden Jeans. I know summer is nearly over so these denim shorts seem like a questionable purchase, but I promise that Hidden Jeans’ fall products are worth a peep. Their denim is so soft and comfortable, and the prices are student-friendly. Check them out here.

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