Meet The Creative Director Behind This Cult Denim Brand
Meet The Creative Director Behind This Cult Denim Brand

Meet The Creative Director Behind This Cult Denim Brand

Who better to talk to about the latest denim trends, cuts and styles than creative director of cult brand, Citizens of Humanity, Marianne McDonald? Here, we sat down with her to talk career highlights, personal style and why denim will always stand the test of time in your wardrobe.
By Emma Bigger

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My career started right as the premium denim craze took hold in LA in the early 2000s. I had a tremendous amount of design responsibility from an early age, and it exposed me to a lot of branding ideas. I worked for various denim brands and even launched my own before I started working with Citizens of Humanity

My first fashion obsession was a Guess denim jacket in a pale bleach wash. I was about ten, and I wanted it more than anything. I literally lost sleep over it. Looking back, I think it was my first time experiencing the power of marketing – it’s crazy how much you can be influenced at a young age. 

My mother loved shopping and my father was always drawn to mid-century Scandinavian designers. He loved sailing and all the fashion that went along with it – think fair isle sweaters, twill jackets and classic denim. I think that’s where my creativity comes from, as well as my appreciation for beautiful aesthetics and quality craftmanship.

Sometimes necessity TRANSLATES AS A PARTICULAR VIBE and other times it’s a certain silhouette.

The Citizen’s aesthetic is all about elevated essentials in quality fabrics. The collections evoke a signature ease and a sense of versatility. Any company can make denim, but people come to us because we have a strong point of view.  We make familiar silhouettes but with a modern edge.

A great wardrobe should be made of pieces that will never go out of style – even if the way we wear them evolves. This has always been a part of our brand DNA. We’re aware that our products are expensive, so when people choose to invest in them, it’s vital that they continue to feel happy about their purchase for months and even years down the line.

When designing for the modern woman, I always consider the idea of necessity. Sometimes necessity translates as a particular vibe and other times it’s a certain silhouette. It’s essentially about homing in on what form “necessity” takes. Sometimes, at the beginning of a season, you feel one thing and then months later you gravitate towards something else – it’s a very fluid process.

We have established a regenerative cotton programme that offers support to US farmers and our non-profit partner in the regenerative movement, Kiss the Ground. To date, we have partnered with eleven farms across the US, procuring over 1.8 million pounds of cotton. Our goal is to transition all our brands to regeneratively grown cotton. This is where we can make the biggest impact on the health of our planet, our people, farmers, and our communities.

My personal style is sophisticated, natural and feminine and it’s reflected in the brand. On one level it’s about developing what I would like to see in my own wardrobe. When I design, I create things through the lens of my own personal taste, but the main focus is still the Citizens customer. 

Right now, my favourite jeans are the Ayla. I love them because they have a huge turn up for the day and then you can uncuff them and wear them with heels in the evening. I love easy, sophisticated looks that don’t look try hard. My favourite denim trend has been the move towards the ‘baggy’ shape. I love that this proportion can work with so many different silhouettes. Lately I’ve been loving the way a baggy jean looks with more tailored outerwear and a slingback.

Jeans stand the test of time because there’s no other piece that can be worn in so many ways. They are always central to seasonal trends, and they can be worn on repeat – this type of versatility is incredible in the modern fashion worlds. 

My top three denim styling tips are: first, always try on multiple sizes to get the right look – every style and brand will be slightly different and the silhouette will dictate the fit you need. Secondly, try new silhouettes; they might feel unfamiliar at first, but new silhouettes are what keeps jeans feeling fresh and current. You don’t want to be wearing styles that look dated. Lastly, invest in a good belt. Not only are they practical, but they also add interest to the simplest of looks. 

I create things THROUGH THE LENS OF MY OWN PERSONAL TASTE, but the main focus is still the CITIZENS CUSTOMER.

A lot of designer jeans come at quite a high price point and this reflects the sourcing, materials and the design process. Citizens of Humanity proudly operates with a vertically integrated denim production process. This unique approach gives us complete control over our supply chain, ensuring transparency in areas such as wages, quality control, employee treatment, and sustainability efforts manufacturing a broad range of our products. 

We’re going to be celebrating our 20-year anniversary this year. Everything we do is thoughtful and considered, not to mention rooted in a philosophical foundation of commitment to quality and uncompromising standards. Our core values are the benchmark of the brand, and we couldn’t be more excited for 2024.



Annina High-Rise Wide-Leg Organic Jeans, £300
Annina High-Rise Wide-Leg Organic Jeans, £300
Horseshoe High-Rise Boyfriend Jeans, £360
Horseshoe High-Rise Boyfriend Jeans, £360
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