Known for his androgynous tailoring JH Zane continues to excite with his latest collection. Phoebe Colley talks to the designer about feminism, social media, and the upcoming season.
Words: Phoebe Colley
All clothing: JH Zane AW15
What have been the most inspirational images/items on your mood board for A/W15?
It has to be Danish Architect Finn Juhl’s armchair – I still want it really badly!
Your A/W15 collection seems very much to be about statement colours and prints in comparison to the pastels and ruffles of your S/S15 collection. Was this an intentional decision to incorporate seasonal trends for A/W15?
The slight jump between my S/S15 and A/W15 wasn’t intentional at all, neither was it about following trends; I was looking for an armchair for my house and I came across Finn Juhl’s designs, which later inspired my entire A/W15 collection. I never follow trends. I find it very tiring to follow them. So I do my own thing and hope for the best that people will like it.
Your focus on feminism – and presenting a multifaceted femininity throughout your collections – is something that’s been touched upon in various interviews. Is translating that ethos into a menswear collection something you’ve considered before – and what would be the key feminist ideas you uphold in your designs that you’d want to maintain?
I would love to translate that into menswear one day, I actually graduated with a menswear collection, and it would be something I will go back to in the future for sure. But I think it would take a bit of time before I step into that; there is a lot to think about.
Each season, I try to celebrate a spirit or attitude in women, and all my collections relate back to the core element of my brand, which is feminism. Some of my designs are actually quite challenging to wear, and this is probably something I would maintain in all my designs. I’d like to see woman be more adventurous in what they wear, buying a piece from JH.ZANE is almost like taking up a challenge. When you are comfortable in being yourself, there isn’t anything you can’t wear really; this is something I want my customer to feel and to be proud of.
Could you tell us a little about the importance of androgynous collections for you?
I think an androgynous collection for me is everything my brand’s about; it’s a style I believe in, I dress in, it is closest to my heart. When a product is something I would wear myself, I am 100% confident to sell it to my customers.
Does this focus on androgyny impact your choice of models too? In what ways?
Absolutely. In my eyes, androgyny is not just physicality, it’s more like girls act like boys and boys act like girls, so the attitude and energy of a model expressed really affects who I would use for my label. Clothes are just clothes – they are emotionless and dead – it’s only the person who wears them that gives them life. So a model becomes particularly important in this respect, and they need to give my clothes life in order for me and my team to sell them.
Are there any designers you feel a particular affinity with in your practise overall? (Current, classic or otherwise)
I love Celine, I always will, it is such an inspiring label and it’s a label I believe lots of younger brands look up to. Newer labels like Ann-Sofie Back and Anne Sofie Madsen, I would personally buy and wear both their clothes.
As a relatively new company, how does exposure on social media platforms compare to magazine profiles in terms of getting your brand out there? Has one proven more beneficial than the other, or do they tend to tap into different audiences?
I think it needs to be well balanced. People like looking at beautiful things, and social media provides the most instant, visual excitement for anyone in the world. It helps polish the surface of a brand, but the content of a brand needs support from magazines. I think there are three types of consumer: type one believe in love at first sight, so they buy whatever they like within a blink of an eye; type two only buy into what they believe is cool; type three is very cautious and sensible. So to cover all three types a brand needs to have a beautiful appearance polished by social media, as well as a rich content that is shaped by magazines and by the industry, so I would say they are equally important.
You’ve been in London for 10 years now, how do you think the fashion differs from other countries / cultures globally – if at all?
It is so fresh, young and energetic! I think it’s because Londoners embrace the differences in people and cultures, the level of acceptance makes it the perfect place for young creative crowds to gather – once your spirit is free, your creativity just comes naturally. This makes London such an inspiring city to live in, everybody is motivating one and other.
Do you have any shoots/shows/videos we should be keeping an eye out for over the next few months?
We will be doing pop ups throughout October along with the launch of SS16 in September – it’s going to be a busy few months!
What are you most looking forward to this Autumn/Winter?
Wrapping myself up in my A/W15 mustard teddy coat.