AGH: Hey Jean-Luc! Where does a lot of your inspiration come from?
Jean-Luc: Hey Ali! I don't think I can locate it to one specific source of inspiration, I feel the majority of it seems to permeate through various aspects of my life. Often, the functionality stems from a specific need of mine which I then try to implement into a design I'm working on. I think, aesthetically, my inspiration varies a lot depending on what I'm excited about on a specific day/ week. I take a lot of shapes and colours from my surroundings, nature and objects external to clothing or occasionally I'll find a fabric/do an experiment and think, ‘This would work really well as a tracksuit or a jacket.’ It's really difficult to say, I don't really sit around creating mood boards, I just sketch whatever's in my head and start working.
AGH: Your work has a certain DIY aspect to it that really adds a distinctive character and identity. Why do you approach your work in this manner?
Jean-Luc: I think this probably stems from the fact I didn't study fashion at university. Apart from a short sewing course, almost everything I do I've worked out from reading books or referencing clothing/outerwear that I, or my friends, own. I still have loads to learn and perfect, but I think working things out for myself has allowed me to choose what I like without external influences.
AGH: When designing a garment, do you try to be as mindful as possible in terms of where you source your fabrics and how they have been made?
Jean-Luc: Yes, this is something I've been really focusing on recently. Traditionally speaking, the majority of 'technical' fabrics are quite bad for the environment so I've been trying to purchase as many recycled or deadstock fabrics as I can. I've also been trying to source as locally as possible, I recently discovered a seam tape mill in the UK so I'm now using them as my sole supplier. Unfortunately, the majority of technical fabric mills are based in mainland Europe, which is now particularly expensive to ship due to Brexit. However, I'm in conversation with a few places which should hopefully help in the short term.
AGH: Where do you see the future of technical and functional clothing? Specifically in regards to outerwear.
Jean-Luc: I think the only logical future in the fashion and outerwear industry is to focus on sustainability. It feels sadly ironic to be buying items that help you enjoy the outdoors from an industry that contributes largely to its destruction. There are a lot of brands already focusing on this, but I'm really hoping there are some more viable options than what's currently being done, but it is a good start. I have some friends working on heavily water-reduced cotton and I think this is the kind of approach that needs to happen; focusing more on the source manufacturing and material impacts, whilst maintaining the recycling of end-of-life products.
Jean-Luc may have only begun making clothes a mere 18 months ago, but, in that time, he has been able to develop a relatively unique design process. Self-taught in all regards, he went on a small ‘Introduction to Sewing’ course as part of his work and since then, he has been teaching himself how to pattern cut and sew more intricately. During the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020, Jean-Luc took the time to channel his energy into something creative and learned how to use CLO3D - a fashion design software that allows you to create virtual, real-to-life visualisations of garments.
The garments that he crafts stem from his willingness to learn and explore, and not be held back by limitations that come his way. In order to keep things interesting and stay developing, Jean-Luc tries to implement a new technique in each piece he develops. His creations are of a technical nature as he often incorporates functional materials and details in the pieces, as exemplified by one jacket that is made using a deadstock 3-ply twill and 100% recycled 3-play nylon. In addition, the majority of the zips were salvaged from previous experiments, reducing the need for further materials - a clear example of how functionality and sustainability can interact with one another.
In order to refine his designs, he understands that he has to push the boundaries of what he knows in order to develop his own design language and narrative.
AGH: In terms of designers, we have a lot of homegrown talent here in the UK that are pushing boundaries. Do you think these individuals are a product of their environment whereby it fosters the urge to create?
Jean-Luc: Yes, definitely! I read something recently about the UK climate fostering a lot of productivity/creativity and I think it's definitely true. There seems to be a lot of really amazing and supportive cultures here which I hope will encourage more people to start creating.
AGH: Do you intend to turn your passion into a viable means of income? Are there plans to pursue a design-related career path?
Jean-Luc: Yeah, this is something that seems to be happening as quite a natural progression. I'm working on a few projects now within the industry and since December, I've managed to switch almost all my income to be related to my design work. I would ideally like to pursue a career in this. so I'm just working as much as I can to facilitate that.
Shot by rory griffs
Styled by jack west
model benji colston
Interview ali george hinkins