Interview: Jess, Founder of I AND ME
1. Describe your creative practice.
I am the Founder and Creative Director of the seasonless, unisex denim and lifestyle brand I AND ME. I started working on the concept of the brand five years ago after feeling really frustrated with what I was experiencing as a Buyer at a leading high street brand. The fast turn over of styles and throw away culture was something I felt really needed to change. I was witnessing a lack of respect for the whole process, from the early development stage all the way through to the garment manufacturing and the selling in stores. The amount of people, materials and environmental resources that are used to create one style, in my eyes demanded more respect.
I launched the brand nearly four years ago with one main mission; to educate customers with a ‘Buy Less, Buy Better’ ethos. I AND ME doesn’t conform to the usual seasonal fashion calendar, instead we work on a seasonless model allowing the collections to move at their own pace. I source high quality fabrics from premium mills who often use very traditional techniques as well as partnering with manufactures who are investing in technologies to reduce water, electric and chemical consumptions. We produce in small runs to reduce our wastage and never use hard mark downs on the stock because we respect the garment and it's worth.
2. How is your working space curated?
I have recently moved studios to a great space near Here East in East London. I use the space as a showroom / studio shop where customers and stockists can visit, see the collection and try on product. I curate the space depending on my mood. It’s so nice to surround myself with the I AND ME product as well as different inspirational fabrics, colours and found objects that I have picked up on my travels. Each piece means something to me and has been used to influence the creative direction and product development process of the collections.
3. List three objects that inspire you.
I love colour, texture and organic shapes so I am always drawn to old, naturally dyed textiles and organic objects as inspiration. I collect vintage denim and textiles, shells and wooden objects which fill my home and studio. My favourites at the moment are:
The blue shell I bought from a shop in Tucson in Arizona. I LOVE the colour, scale and shape of it. I have never seen any other shell like it.
The indigo painters jacket I found in Osaka, Japan. It wasn’t cheap but it is my most valued piece of clothing. The deep indigo colour is so beautiful, every time I see it I fall more in love with it. The colouration and fades change with every wear and there is a nice natural coated sheen to it now. I would love to know who owned it before me.
And my vintage indigo boro quilt that I found at a flea market in Tokyo. It’s so beautiful and tells so many stories. We have it on our bed and I just love it. The different indigo colours and patterns just make me happy every time I see it.
4. What is the most recent book you read?
I am currently reading ‘a cat, a man & two women’ by a Japanese author called Junichiro Tanizaki. It’s about a divorced couple and their fight over the cat. It’s charming, funny and thought provoking all at once.
5. Share a daily ritual.
A bath before bed with salts and a scented candle is my daily wind down ritual.
6. What was the last piece of art / music / dance / film that changed your perspective?
My husband and I live in a single story midcentury house in Hertfordshire which has been an on-going project for the last three years. We have become a little obsessed with interiors ever since and curating our own space at home with special pieces and furniture that we have sourced from around the world.
A few years ago whilst shooting our fourth collection look book in New Mexico we visited Georgia O’Keeffe’s Home & Studios which was a life changing experience. I have always been a HUGE fan of her work but being stood in her house, looking out of the same windows over the mountains where she found inspiration to create her works felt like a real special moment.
I have always loved to visit artists residences, whether that is Donald Judd’s NY or Marfa (on the same South West road trip) properties, Kettles Yard in Cambridge or Henry Moore’s home in Hertfordshire. I find the whole experience fascinating how much someone’s home can say about them. You can be influenced by an artists creations but until you set foot in their home and see how they lived and what they surrounded themselves with you you can’t really understand them as a person. It makes the artist come to life, it gives them a personality. It’s fascinating.
7. The greatest piece of advise you've received or given.
My Mum always told me ‘waste not want not’ and that always stuck with me.
P.S - There are a couple of spaces left on our upcoming dyeing workshop. More info and booking here.