May 19, 2018 | By Nicole McLennan
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May 01, 2018
It’s been a while since we last wrote about East London denim and lifestyle brand I AND ME, but that’s due to the brand’s season-less design approach that stealthily surpasses the breakneck speed of the fashion calendar.
At I AND ME, the collections move at their own pace – reflecting the moment rather than the season.
It’s been a slow, thoughtful journey for founder and designer Jessica Gebhart.
This month sees her reveal the brand’s fourth collection since its inception back in the Summer of 2016.
Gebhart’s latest outing, Las Casas, builds on I AND ME’s original design philosophy– gender-neutral silhouettes with an uncompromising focus on fabric and fit, undefined by seasons or trends.
Inspired by the American Desert Southwest, the collection explores traditional workwear through a contemporary lens, with unexpected fabrics like linen in a variety of washes and finishes.
We spoke to Jessica to get the latest scoop on the label and find out more behind the Las Casas collection.
The last time we spoke was back in 2016 when you launched the label. How has the brand grown and what challenges and achievements have you come across over the past couple of years?
The past few years in the fashion industry have been the most uncertain I’ve seen in my twelve year career. It has been a very unstable climate for a start-up brand and, of course, very challenging at times. Exchange rates, unreliable manufacturing, stockists closing down due to London rents etc, have all been tough to work with. I AND ME has, thankfully, been growing steadily though, and we’ve really started to see benefits from our clear message. The ‘Buy Less, Buy Better’ vision that we channel really resonates with consumers and, as long as we’re pioneering this sustainable and slow way of shopping, we will continue to grow. Releasing our fourth collection in this crazy climate is a huge achievement in itself!
I AND ME was founded on the concept of season-less design, with a focus on quality basics meant to last for life. How does this still manifest in the brand today?
Our strong foundation of timeless, quality product is still the basis for every design. This will always what I AND ME stand’s for.
How has the gender-neutral approach resonated with the modern consumer?
Finally, more and more designers are championing a gender-neutral approach, whether that’s through product or on catwalk schedules. This has helped raise the awareness of I AND ME, too. It has taken a while to gather pace but our customers totally get it and almost oversee the ‘unisex’ element – it’s more about the actual product than who it is for.
Are you still selling independently or are you starting to do wholesale now?
The latest collection has a slightly more rustic feel than previous seasons with the linen selvedge and those beautiful untreated neutrals. What was the inspiration behind this?
‘Las Casas’ was heavily inspired by the idea of working and creating within a home-studio so, to build on this, we studied and visited a number of contemporary artists residents across the globe. The idea that a home is a personal curation of objects that one can get continual inspiration from fascinates me. The fabrics and palette used in the collection reflect this idea. Breathable linen-mix denim and looser silhouette’s allow for freer movement and the raw, neutral colours mirror the Southwest American deserts where we shot the lookbook.
Whilst on set we witnessed intense hot sunshine, tropical rain, hail (all the elements!!), which is the reality in that part for the world, so the garments and fabrication need to have that softer versatility.
In related news, read more about the season-less design and socially responsible manufacturing in our latest denim future trends report, Purposeful on the WGSN denim page.
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