JETTI aims to make clothes for the modern woman, through comfortable and sustainable design. We met Rachel, the designer behind the brand at LFW last season and thought it was time for a little catch-up. Rachel has always been fascinated by the connection between men’s- and womenswear and wants to end inequality in design- here’s how she’s doing it.
Can you give us a little bit more background about yourself and your career?
I grew up just outside of Washington DC and went to school at Parsons in NY. I always knew I wanted to be in fashion. As a kid, I would draw fashion sketches on models as soon as I could put pen to paper. Back then, the internet was more limited and there was barely any social media so apart from watching Tim Blanks on Fashion File, I had no idea what it was like to be in fashion. During school, I interned at a few different places like Narciso Rodriguez and Rachel Comey. I studied in Paris for a year which was incredibly valuable and sparked my obsession with living in Europe. I ended up working at J.Mendel as my first job out of school. That was really cool–I got to work in an atelier with super talented craftspeople, but it was on a pretty far end of the fashion spectrum since they only did uber luxurious evening wear and furs. Although they did amazing couture work there, I think I was more interested in designing for a broader range of women–making clothing that was more accessible and ultimately functional that worked with how women dress every day. With that mindset and after working with several small labels, I ended up in London and thought I was finally ready to start my own brand.
Your brand is based on women who strive for comfort and functionality, how do you think you have brought this alive through Jetti?
I’ve always had a problem with women’s clothing and accessories being unnecessarily uncomfortable. Dresses/tops are too tight, or too fussy, heels are too high and too painful. There’s nothing that affects my mood more than being uncomfortable with what I’m wearing. I really wanted to address this with Jetti. That’s why most of the pieces have relaxed silhouettes so you can move in them without feeling constrained. They may have a belt or a tie that helps to cinch in the waist so your figure won’t get completely lost in the volume and you can still feel feminine. These pieces are meant to be comfortable without sacrificing on style, and vice versa. Throughout the day, you don’t want to be reminded that you’re wearing something because you have to keep on fussing with it. You should only think about your clothes twice a day–when you put them on and when you take them off. We have better things to worry about!
Can you tell me more about your feminist approach to fashion?
One thing I love about being a woman is being able to dress in a much more varied wardrobe. It’s a luxury that men certainly don’t have. We are spoiled with choice when it comes to what to wear. However, I’ve noticed that men’s clothing often has something that we don’t. Especially when it comes to workwear, they usually have some sort of functional or technical property applied such as moisture-wicking, quick-drying, anti-microbial, stain and wrinkle resistance, the list goes on. I thought to myself there’s no reason womenswear shouldn’t be approached in the same way. Afterall, women sweat, they move, they spill things, and many of us also hate ironing! I thought, why can’t we have these things too?
Another step towards equality!
What are your brand and your latest collection inspired by?
Our brand is always inspired by women who dress with confidence, who are comfortable in their own skin–whether it’s women in business or super moms or both. Often this means they need clothes that work with their busy lifestyle and need things that can go from day to night and even through the weekend. Our first collection, we wanted to lay a foundation of basic styles and introduce the brand to some great wardrobe staples. With the latest collection, we wanted to experiment more and play with volume. I think there’s such a beautiful crispness to cotton that you can see when it’s draped around the body. That’s why you’re seeing more belts, and wrap dresses that give shape to these roomier silhouettes.
What are your garments made of? What fabrics do you prefer using and why?
All the fabrics we use are 100% cotton with an easy-care finish so they are breathable, wrinkle resistant, and machine washable making these very low maintenance, but high-quality garments. There are other “easy care” fabrics out there, but they often have a synthetic blend in them. I’ve found that these often don’t breathe well and end up feeling a bit too stiff or crinkly. I wanted to work with a natural fibre that still feels soft against the skin, but was durable enough to withstand everyday wear and tear.
Where do you produce your garments?
We wanted to keep our production within the EU where we know we can trust ethical standards to be followed and of course, we can pop by relatively quickly for a visit. All of our pieces are currently produced in Portugal where they have a great history of shirt making. We were very lucky to find a family run factory in the north of Porto that’s been at it for over 70 years. A definite plus for us was that they work with several recycling organizations to help take care of their fabric remnants as well as recover and recycle their packaging waste. Knowing that you can trust your suppliers to have the same principles as you is really important.
What can we expect to see from JETTI for AW18?
I really want to expand our fabrications and move towards more sustainable materials. It’s really something you can’t ignore anymore. Being part of one of the most polluting industries in the world, it really is necessary to do business in a responsible way. Right now, we only use 100% cottons which are able to be recycled and broken down, but the material itself is far from being produced in a closed loop system. I’d like to move towards materials that are close to if not 100% closed loop and even towards recycled materials. In terms of collections, I think using the shirt as a base has infinite possibilities. So far, we’ve been doing a lot of menswear-inspired palettes. I’d love to start incorporating more playful prints in the coming season.
If there was one thing you could change about the fashion industry, what would it be?
I think a major issue in the industry now, and perhaps with retail, in general, is the constant need for newness. I understand that this is the bedrock of many industries-it’s not exclusive to fashion-but I think there needs to be a greater push towards slow fashion from both the brand and customer end. This constant need for new products and the industry’s willingness to indulge it is really not good for anyone. It’s making it difficult for small businesses to compete. It’s making clothing lose its value and of course, the amount of waste it produces is staggering. We’re moving towards slow fashion, which is great. More and more people are coming to the realisation that you should buy better, buy less, and that longevity has more value than fast-moving trends.
Want to read about more inspiring designers? Check out our interview with Mahshid Alavi here
As told to: Lene Hille