Jennifer Hope Clothing is a unisex street wear brand founded in Bristol by Oxford born fashion/print designer Jennifer Hope who specialises in turning intricate 2D designs into 3D retina burning one-of-a-kind garments for its loyal clientele. We spoke to Jennifer about the early days, her design background and discuss the hard-work and dedication required to build your own fashion empire.
1. How did it all start?
Since before I went to university back in 2009 I wanted to start a clothing brand so I had a year break and tried to pursue it. At the time I was hand painting detailed floral patterns onto clothing which was extremely time consuming and for how much I was selling them for wasn’t ever going to work. I sold the items via a big cartel site and did a lot of my advertising over sites such as Myspace at the time.
I’m originally from Oxford but went to university in Bristol. I did a 3 year degree in fashion and textile design where I ended up specialising in print design. I had experimented a lot at uni with screen printing but my print work is extremely detailed with its use of colours that I found it hard to work within the boundaries of only few colours. I became extremely influenced by the street wear culture of Bristol at the time where girls used to incorporate big gold earrings with vintage printed scarves into their outfits. I researched more into vintage scarves for example Hermes and Versace where I came across Versace previous collections of the 90s. I found one image from Versaces 90s collection with 3 ladies all dressed leggings and silk shirts heavily covered in this vintage scarf style print which became my muse for my final year project.
2. What inspires your pattern designs?
I have always had a love for sea life and aquariums, and I kind of used it as an excuse to visit loads of aquariums and sea life centres in my summer before heading into my final year for my first hand research. A lot of my print work is based on sea life and fish which has been taken through into my print work for my clothing brand. It’s not evidently fish which I think works extremely well but its the patterns I have created through my research into it.
Even though I studied 2D at university I asked the tutors if I could make my finals into 3D pieces and have a section of the catwalk as the other fashion students were doing. For me I like to look at the fabrics on the body especially as I could style them to suit my market to really show my inspiration and influences from Bristol in my work.
3. Were there any issues producing your own garments?
I started getting my leggings digitally printed in Glasgow however it was becoming to expensive therefore I sourced a factory out in India to print the fabric and make the leggings for me. My market at the time was younger females so I stuck to producing my leggings rather than the large silk scarves as they were a lot more expensive. I worked with the factory in India for a couple of runs however the import TAX was a 3rd of the order price and getting rather expensive, they were extremely good quality but having to put the leggings at this price was making it them too expensive for my younger target market. Also the order times were too long for the way the brand was moving.
I was offered a couple of concessions within Topshop which meant that my production turn around how to be super quick therefore a 3 month wait for products from India wasn’t going to do. I got introduced to sublimation print at the point in time as I needed quicker runs and I knew there was a few factories in the UK that did this. I have had a lot of problems with sublimation print however, a lot of the factories choose to print items as a whole t-shirt therefore you get white crease lines that to me look like faults in the items. So now I’m working with an amazing factory that cut and sew the items therefore there are no dodgy lines as well as being extremely good quality fabrics similar to the lycras that brands like Black Milk Clothing print onto, therefore extremely flattering for girls.
My most recent summer collection features some of my abstract floral designs to more simple slogan prints. I have always worked with heavily detailed printed items and simple screen print items as I believe its easy to wear as an outfit. This new summer collection I featured a couple of two piece co-ords which feature my hand drawn floral print designs as well as more graphic photo prints I’ve put together. As much as keeping to my detailed digital prints I have now started to work with my new factory to create designs with exact placement to suit the female form. It’s possibly the best thing when you establish a great relationship with a good factory because you can then work together to create more complicated items. One of my favourite items of this collection is our diamond leggings which were designed with a white greek style pattern running down the side of each leg to create the illusion of having slimmer legs. I design a lot for myself as well as others, I know I have problems with my legs looking chunky therefore other girls might too, I don’t mind creating an illusion for my legs to looks slightly longer and slimmer.
4. Day-to-day, how hands on are you with Jennifer Hope Clothing?
I do most aspects around my brand. I travel visiting different cities to music, art and fashion events to collect first/second hand research. I use this information as a starting point for design work. It also helps to identify the current trends and likes in my target market as the present time. This work is then developed either into market research or into drawings and paintings for print design. I usually then take this into programmes such as Photoshop to develop it further. After initial design work you then have to work with a lot of variations and cancel out what doesn’t work and pick what does. This can be quite a hard process considering I usually become quite attached to some of my design work as I know where it started from. However within my brand I have to work with what is marketable.
I take final collections into production by sampling with my factories and usually having to tweek a few ideas or fabrics. This can take around 8 weeks though so it can be a little tedious. But at the end of the day you want to deliver the best products. Once production is complete you then have to organize your lookbook and photoshoots for that seasonal collection. I photograph everything as flats to make up linesheets to support the lookbook which you then will send out to buyers and bloggers. You market the collection from there possibly showing customers sneak previews of up and coming pieces. It’s quite hard at this point as you want to show the world your new products your ever so much in love with but you have to wait.
5. What is a typical day like for you?
It’s probably extremely unhealthy but every morning I wake up and before I do anything I check all social media sites and for any urgent emails. Once I’ve cleared that up I usually do the general routine of being a human being.
First main job is checking orders. Usually I’ve dyed some items the day before and left them over night to set so I’ll have to chuck those in the wash so they dry before my daily post office trip. I’ll go through all orders and put them all together, some I’ll have to put aside to the next day as I’ll have to dye them and leave them over night.
None of my days in the studio are the same due to what time of the year is, some days I’ll then have to go out to buy materials, some days I’ll be working on the website and promotional material, some I’ll be on my email all day sending out lookbooks and some I’m up to the early hours of the morning drawing. I make sure everyday whatever I am doing I am always updating my social media sites though with hopefully interesting and exciting posts that my customers actually want to see. I always try to keep on top of emails and helping customers out. One of my favourite days is photoshoot days, it’s always a bit of a stress but I get on really well with all the photographers and models I’ve worked with so it’s like hanging out with friends creating some beautiful images together.