An Interview with Jade Kellett
I recently met Jade at the Bare Fashion event in London where she was showcasing her business; Jakelle Studios. During the catwalk show I spotted a black asymmetric bodysuit that just stood out from the other pieces. I was immediately drawn to the aesthetics; minimal, sexy and modern, with a nod to the 90’s. Basically ticking all my boxes! Jakelle Studios currently offers a select range of classic bodysuits, swimwear and t-shirts that are perfect for creating unique, sleek looks.
After the show, we chatted about her designs and how she views vegan and sustainable fashion, and we both agreed that there aren’t enough brands that offer a modern, minimalist aesthetic. I knew after we spoke that I wanted to feature Jade on the blog and show more people how gorgeous her pieces are, and I’m so pleased she agreed to do an interview with me! Have a read and make sure you give @jakellestudios a follow on Instagram too (@jakellestudios)
Tell us a bit about your career so far, what led you to start up your own fashion brand?
I studied Art Textiles at A-level and was always exploring the fashion design side of it. Although it’s something I’ve always been interested in, I had this view of the fashion industry being a bit catty and cutthroat so I just couldn’t really imagine myself pursuing a career in it. I’ve now learnt it definitely doesn't need to be like that, maybe young Jade took ’The Devil Wears Prada’ a bit too literally?! Being a bit unsure of what career path I wanted to go down, I chose not to go to university and instead started working so that I could save and give myself some more time to work out what I wanted to do. I worked in a call centre for a while, a job I think people really underestimate! It gave me so many life skills that I honestly believe have prepared me for situations I wouldn’t expect. I then worked in another office based job where I am still currently working part time to help build by little business on the side. It was through working in jobs that I knew weren’t for me, that I decided to just go for what I wanted. I had already started looking at reigning in my fast fashion shopping habits after watching 'The True Cost' and realised that there weren’t enough ‘ethical’ and ’sustainable’ brands that were catering to my kind of style. Everything seemed quite simple and conservative and I just wondered why sustainability couldn’t be sexy too? Haha, so I came to the conclusion that if I had my own brand, I could be in control of how everything worked and therefore I could work in fashion but without the guilt of wondering who made the clothes or where the material was sourced from.
What is the most important factor when you design your pieces?
It’s quite difficult because I love playing about with new trends, but when you want your clothing line to be more sustainability focused, you need to consider the longevity of each style. I try to keep my designs timeless so that people feel they can still wear them years down the line and they aren’t just a fad that won’t be in fashion next year. So really I would say that ensuring each design can be worn year after year and is also versatile is what I consider most. I love it when you buy one item and can make loads of completely different looks with it!
Did you intentionally set out to make vegan clothing, or was it more of an added bonus?
I never purposely intended for Jakelle Studios to be a vegan clothing line however it was always my intention for it to be responsible in what it puts out. By this I mean that I wanted everything to be manufactured in a way that is considerate to humans and their working rights as well as being focused on minimising the impact our clothing production has on the environment. By aiming to be a brand which causes the least harm, I’ve unintentionally also developed it to be a vegan brand and will continue to choose other alternatives over fabrics derived from animals. You still have to be careful though, just because something is vegan, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for the environment but that is another lengthy topic!
The aesthetics of Jakelle Studios is so minimalist and sexy! What else sets you apart from the crowd?
Yay, thank you! That is exactly what I want it to be. I just want to be able to provide a new style of consciously produced clothing to people like me who maybe felt like there wasn’t enough out there for us? I also hope that through offering a different type of style that isn’t always typical of ethical and sustainable clothing brands, I can encourage more people to change their shopping habits. I almost want it to be that some people come to us because they just love our clothing and then to find out it’s consciously created is an added bonus!
Who inspires your personal style?
My personal style is so off! Most days I’m in joggers as I’m not really customer facing so just go for comfort. But if I was making an effort I would say that I really love the return of the 90’s/00’s trends. It’s so fun and reminds me of a lot of the stuff I would see in my mum’s magazines when I was little and first started actually taking fashion inspiration in. The great thing about old trends coming back is that it also enables people to be a bit more sustainable with their purchases. I love idea of pairing a Jakelle Studios’ bodysuit with an old pair of vintage Levi jeans for a relaxed look. There are just so many amazing vintage pieces and even charity shop finds out there, people can 'do fashion' but without having to constantly buy new.
What challenges have you faced so far in your business?
As the business is still small, it’s just me running most things like designing, sourcing materials and managing the marketing. I think this presents struggles in itself but I’m still really enjoying getting to oversee every aspect of the business and I think that as businesses grow, you seem to be a lot less involved in that so I’m making the most of it whilst it’s small. I would say a big challenge for me is accepting the cost of each piece. I don’t want people to be put off purchasing clothing that is responsibly made because of the price, but at the same time I have found that when things are done right, it does just cost more! We have almost gotten so used to fast fashion and t-shirts costing £5, that we’re shocked when something doesn’t quite meet that expectation. I just hope that we can reinvent the way we shop so that we are prepared to invest a bit more, where we can afford to, in quality pieces that will actually be more cost efficient in the long run.
What do you see happening in the sustainable fashion industry in the next 5 years?
It’s definitely going to blow up!! Whether companies want to or not, they are being forced to closely examine their manufacturing and fabric sourcing processes because more of us are demanding transparency. We’re at a real turning point now, where even big brands like Prada and Chanel are choosing recycled fabrics for new collections. I do really respect that, but we can't let it distract from the fact that there are some really cool brands that have been committed to choosing these options for years. I just hope that companies can also address the ethics of their manufacturing, as the word ‘sustainability’, to me, often seems to reflect the environmental impact; we need more reassurance that the workers who are making our clothes are also being paid and treated fairly!