FK talks to Jen from Sydney fashion accessories label, South for the Summer.
Give us a summary about what South for the Summer is.
Perhaps you could help me with that one?! I always fall back on Milliner, but I don’t actually make hats, rather headpieces, headbands, crowns, bows etc… I guess South for the Summer is a niche millinery!
What is your background in design and how has it lead to where you are today?
I trained as a makeup artist which is probably why colour is so important to me and my work. When I moved to Melbourne for a couple of years I worked in an old fashioned perfumery where I wore vintage dresses and I began to make ‘20s style hair pieces for myself. People were buying them off my head in the shop. So when I moved back to Sydney for love, I decided it was time to try to make this into a business and almost 2 years later I’m still my own boss. Happiness! (I also credit the Childrens Encyclopedia, Volume 13 “Make and Do”. I’m pretty sure I made every single project in that book in my early years, I’m sure it’s helped along the way.)
What do you love about having your own label?
Everything! It’s the most flexible job, lifestyle wise it couldn’t be better. I can work whenever I want, and I am really productive at night, so I can begin making things later in the day. To be able to use my hands and make things all day long still makes me pinch myself, that this is my own business. When I see people wearing something I’ve made walking down the street – that is surreal.
Describe your creative process.
I am a very tactile person, so it’s easier for me to pick up materials and begin to try to make something from an image in my mind than to draw it first. Generally playing with materials, bending, cutting, sewing, folding, and then something just happens organically. I might have been influenced by a colour in a painting, and all of a sudden an idea just works and translates to something inspired and wearable.
Where do you find inspiration, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
Two colours next to each other can be enough to set my mind in a spin! It can be on a book cover, a rug, someone’s outfit, nature, anywhere. Old children’s books, the simplicity of Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari. I know exactly what I like and what aesthetically pleases my eye. Trawling through books of Art deco jewellery and looking up at art deco buildings in the city inspired the lines and shapes of my latest collection. Shapes, patterns and colours are my big loves so vintage clothing shops like Zoo, visiting the MCA, and endless clicking through beautiful image blogs are constant sources for me. When I have that lightbulb moment it literally fills me with adrenalin and I make and make and make until it’s done. I can’t take my time and wait until tomorrow. My studio is filled with natural light which is really important, and my image boards on my walls have all sorts of pictures, and collectibles hanging from them and it’s funny how something that you see everyday for a year or more, can one day just jump out at you and be responsible for a whole new design direction.
What exciting things can we expect from South for the Summer next season?
Well! Leather is my current obsession and its texture and colours are sublime. I’m playing with new ways and techniques to use it. However, patchworks, embroidery, weaving and clashing colours are on my mind in upside down sort of ways. The best place for clues is on my blog – www.jensouthforthesummer.blogspot.com!