In our monthly series, Designer Diaries, digital fashion writer Naomi May chats to the faces behind some of fashion’s buzziest brands to pick their brains on the future of fashion and what an average day looks like for them.
When it comes to female-founded fashion brands that pack a punch, few do it better than London label Jakke, which was founded by Nina Hopkins in 2015.
Hopkins, who cut her teeth on the design teams of a clutch of high-street and mid-market brands, noticed a gaping hole in the arena of faux fur fashion that didn’t cost the earth, quite literally, and so established Jakke, a free-spirited brand that is clear on putting the fun back into fashion.
Its wares are big, bright and bold and hit the sweet spot between high street and high-end, without compromising on quality. In short, Jakke is a fashion lover’s dream and it’s firmly on a path to stratospheric success if its recent achievements are anything to go by.
Not only is the vegan label now stocked at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, but it’s also just launched its first collaboration with a trio of bright young artists, including the ever-popular Astrid Wilson, whose prints are ubiquitous.
In a realm that often forgets that its primary purpose is to encourage self-expression, Jakke is clear on reestablishing the art of having fun with fashion, which Hopkins knows all too well about. Here are her designer diaries.
What does an average day look like for you?
Every day for me is different, especially since the pandemic where I now split my time between working from home and the studio. Usually, I get up at 6:30am and immediately check my emails and then scroll through social media if I have enough time.
I’ve recently started to go to the gym so I cycle there to meet my PT at 7:30am and then I’m in the office by 9:30am. If the team is in, we’ll have a quick catch up and then my day can be filled with a number of things ranging from marketing & PR meetings, costings, designing or fitting samples. We are a small team and I like to be involved and oversee all aspects of the business. Depending on how busy we are I’m usually home by 6pm but I have been known to get home a lot later.
Do you have any daily rituals that get your creative juices flowing?
I love to take super-long showers. This is when my head is the clearest and I’m able to do all my thinking.
What was your journey into fashion?
My parents are both very creative so my formative years were influenced by my father’s love for conceptual art and my mother’s love for sewing and vintage clothes. My mother would always take me to vintage shops and markets which was where my love of clothes began. I always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer so I made sure that my educational path took me in that direction.
I studied Art & Design at college and specialised in Fashion, which enabled me to get a place at the London College of Fashion. During my fashion degree, we had a year working in the industry where I worked for a company that supplied clothes to H&M. After graduating they offered me a position cutting fabric. Luckily, within a year, one of the designers left and although I didn’t have much experience I managed to convince (beg) the design director for the job. She saw my potential and I’ve never looked back.
Did you have any fears about starting your own brand?
No, because I had lots of experience and knowledge behind me which gave me the confidence to give up my job and take a leap of faith. I had a brand before that did really well and was stocked in stores worldwide but ultimately didn’t work out and I learned so much from that.
I guess it was the mistakes that I made with that brand and knowing that whatever happens you’ll be OK is fundamentally the reason I didn’t have any fears when starting Jakke.
Let’s say you’re prepping for a new piece – what’s the first step on your journey of designing it?
My design process is very organic. It could start with a colour, print or even a mood but I’m usually influenced by things around me. I grew up and live in east London, one of the most diverse and multicultural areas in London, which has always shaped my creativity. Our autumn/winter 2021 collection was inspired by my long walks in the local park during lockdown and exploring the charm of nature through colour and print. We even shot the look book in the same park months later.
Which one item could you not live without?
My phone – like everyone else on this planet!
What do you hope Jakke becomes remembered for?
I hope Jakke can be remembered for being one of the brands that paved the way for being less harmful. Less harmful to animals and less harmful to the planet.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice – what would it be?
I would absolutely love to give my younger self advice. Quite often I imagine myself going back in time and having a quiet word with the younger Nina. I would tell her to be more confident in her abilities and know her strength. I actually wanted to start my own brand in my 20s but didn’t have the confidence until I was a lot older. I have always had imposter syndrome, even now because I never thought that someone that looks like me (I’m of mixed heritage – Nigerian and Welsh) or someone with my working-class background could achieve what I have. I’m so happy that things are changing and that the fashion industry is becoming a lot more inclusive and diverse.
What does the future for Jakke hold?
The future for Jakke looks exciting. This year alone we have been stocked in major department stores and we are also looking forward to more collaborations, especially after the success of our current artist collaboration featuring Astrid Wilson, Kit Agar and Simone Brewster. We really want to build a community with our customers that have the same ideals as us and who we can grow the brand with.
Images: courtesy of Jakke.