Conversation with Jessica
Founded in New York, Jessture is a contemporary casual womenswear brand pioneered by entrepreneur and designer Jessica Hu.
Conversation with Jessica The motivation behind the brand was sparked by a desire to introduce simple, comfortable and chic clothing to the modern day woman. Massimo Vignelli, an Italian designer once said, “Minimalism is not a style, it is an attitude, a way of being. It’s fundamental reaction against noise, visual noise, disorder, vulgarity. Minimalism is the pursuit of the essence of things not the appearance.” With the idea of minimalism, we want our products to have simple elements and minimalist appearance, giving wearers enough freedom to show their own attitude and their innate beauty. We believe clothing is a type of “media” for people to express their true selves. “Less is more”, by offering simple products with attitude and essence, our goal is to provide a “media” for our customers to create their own unique fashion styles.
You are the person who defines your own personalities and styles. It doesn’t matter what you wear, all that matters is who you are. Please join us to celebrate your true beauty, and define your own fashion styles.
Your gesture (Jessture) is your own style.
An interview with Jessica Hu, designer and founder of Jessture
TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I started drawing, sketching and painting at a very young age (when I was a kid). And I’m always fond of the passion and power hidden inside the beauty of art. For me, design is a type of art and media that allows me to express and share my thoughts, feeling, the beauty I discover in my life. And it’s also a process of creating an artwork that can make our life better (either physically or mentally, or both). The power and joy of design give me passion and motivation to live and keep moving on. There are so many different areas of design to choose. But as I grew older, when I entered college, I started to pay more attention to people’s outfits. Friends around me started to dress up. And I started to think that maybe fashion design would be more applicable to our daily life, because clothing is one of the basic needs. Since then I decided that I wanted to devote my passion of art to the fashion industry.
TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
My first internship was at the fabric department of Donna Karan Collection. I was very lucky to get this opportunity in when I was just in my second semester at Parsons. I had a very kind, patient and helpful supervisor. In fact everyone in Donna Karan Collection was really warm and nice. My supervisor taught me a lot about fabric selection, fabric sourcing, and fabric application. He not only introduced me to his colleagues in different departments, but also brought me to the meeting with his superiors and bosses. I even got chances to meet and talk to our boss Ms. Donna Karan and Mr. Peter Speliopoulos at work, (both great designers and famous Parsons alumnus), that was a very inspiring and precious experience of mine.
TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
My first job in the fashion industry was a freelance CAD designer position in an accessory company in New York called Elis LLC. The company sells all types of shoes and handbags. I found this paid internship opportunity of this company from the career service website of our school. I submitted my resume and portfolio, and finished a small CAD project for the interview. I guess my interview project worked well and so I got the internship opportunity successfully. I found it very pleasant to work in Elis and my bosses (we had two bosses at the time) and colleagues were very nice and helpful. We made a very efficient team. When my internship period ended, my bosses offered me a chance to stay in the company. And that was my first paid job in the fashion industry.
TPM: Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words .
Eco-friendly, organic, cyclic-utilization, emission-reduction , technicalization.
TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
“Be more patient, to yourself, and to your career. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
TPM: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
I was too urged to make money at the beginning, and I forgot starting a brand was not just about selling products and making money. There were so many other aspects should not be ignored, such as building up brand image and brand concept; defining our mission; planning for strategies and many other crucial works. All these needto work together, but I left some behind at the beginning. Fortunately I was able to realize the mistake in a short time. Since then I became more patient and tried to think more comprehensively in most situations.
TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?
Temperament. The model’s temperament and characteristic must be able to fit in the concept.
TPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Very important role, like a “booster”. They have the power to boost you up to a peak in a very short time. And they can crash you down in a flash as well.
TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?
The atmosphere is very open and inclusive in fashion industry nowadays. There are room for more diverse styles and ideas to pop up. And I feel my thoughts can go further and we can be braver and dream bolder. That’s my favorite part.
My non-favorite part is that some factories/ stores/ individuals/ companies they copy others design and ideas straightly and sell them as their own products. Sometimes you launch a collection online and the next week you may see the exact same products in someone else’s store with a much lower price… Very discouraging for many original designers.
TPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
I believe clothing is a “media” for people to express their thoughts and true selves. By offering simple products with attitude and essence, our goal is to provide a “media” for our customers to create their own unique fashion styles.
“You should be the one that defines who you are, not your clothes. Even the same piece of garment, when you dress it in different ways, or mix matching it with different pieces, you create your own unique styles. Everyone has unique personality and preferences. Be who you are, be true to yourself. Don’t let the clothes cover your true selves up.” These are the messages we want to deliver to our customers. So “your gesture (Jessture) is your own style.” We hope our customers find our clothes cozy and chic. And we also hope they can enjoy the freedom of creating their own fashion styles.
TPM: Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?
Nowadays still many people are confused about “styles”. Some people try very hard to find styles that are suitable for them. For example, some people pick up styles from the celebrities, some look up outfits from magazines and social media. I believe people all have their own styles. It is a part of their personality and lifestyle. It is an innate quality, affected by the person’s cultural background and daily preferences. So instead of choosing outfits for customers, I prefer letting our customers to tell us who they are. Different customers may have different interpretation about my products, and that’s what I would love to see. And by offering simple products with attitude and essence, I wish to give our customers a “media” to show various unique personal styles. So that they will no longer need to copy or follow the others, but have more space and freedom to express their true selves and be who they really are.
TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection?
We are launching our Fall/Winter 2019 Collection in Vancouver Fashion Week this upcoming March. Audiences can find our brand profile page on VFW official website. Very excited to see more guests coming to our show this year.
TPM: What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?
I think it is important for a fashion designer to keep their passion and stay inspired. Yet, it is very hard to do so. It might be easy for a designer to generate inspirations and be full of energy and passion at the beginning of the career. However, pressure and negative voices come in over time. Negative emotion kills passion and inspirations easily. So it is very important to find motivations keep moving forward. Another challenge is to be able to stick to the initial faith and follow the heart. Both easy to say but hard to do.
TPM: There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?
There is a Korean American singer, she is now a designer and has founded her own brand as well –Jessica Jung, I first noticed her was because we had the same name. I like her personalities and I find it easy to sympathize with her works. I witnessed some hard times of her career before. Every time I saw her stood up and broke through the difficulties, her will and determination gave me so much courage to move on. I always believe that everything can be possible. And one of her famous saying was “follow your heart”. Whenever I face my hard times, the combination of these two faiths becomes the courage and motivation for me to break through and move on. Life is tough, but dreamers never stop.
TPM: How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?
Emphasize the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Let every collaborator and team member know that each one of them plays an essential role in the company, no one is dispensable. Also, I think a brand/company should create a sense of belonging for its collaborators and team members. Increasing their sense of participation is very important as well. Collaborators and team members may become passive when they feel they are some kind of “nobody” for the brand. If we give them a strong sense of belonging, letting them know that every piece of work includes contribution from every one of them, and we all share the same pride and honor of the brand, I believe these will be very strong motivations for most of the collaborators and members in a big brand.
TPM: How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?
Sustainable designs and materials are probably one of the hottest topics in the fashion industry these years. We can see many fashion companies and brands trying to go “green” using different methods. New artificial/organic materials and new technologies are being applied to production. Companies pay more attention to energy-saving and emission-reduction. The recycle and reuse concepts have become more popular as well. Although there are still some limitations for sustainable designs, with better and more efficient cooperation from designers, material suppliers, the market, the media and all other important players of the fashion industry, I think sustainability is an inevitable trend in the future.
TPM: Describe us you as a designer and how your feelings influence the creativity process?
I think design is a type of art and media that allows me to express and share my thoughts, feeling, and beautiful things in my life. And it’s also a process of creating an artwork that can make our life better (physically or mentally, or both). The power and joy of design give me passion and motivation to live and keep moving on. As a designer, I generate inspirations from my daily life, and use them to create new stuff that makes life better and happier. I kinda enjoy the whole process of generating new ideas and turning them into reality.
I am a sensitive person. My inspiration comes from all different sources. Usually some abstract feelings or emotions from my daily life. Sometimes from a book, a song, a movie, or the food I eat. New ideas and thoughts usually flow in at night, when I lie in bed and start to reach back to my memories (the places I went, people I met, food I ate, movie I saw, etc…) When new inspirations came in, I put them down on memo then go through the memo the next day. Once the direction and goal is clear, I will start sketching drafts, search for suitable materials and think of the color selections. Can’t really tell which process goes first, they all go at the same time, and sometimes I even go back and forth between the steps for modifications, until eventually all pieces come together as a final collection.
TPM: Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?
Yes I would be happy to collaborate with accessories designers. Accessories are big parts of the fashion industry. A lot of big fashion brands have their own accessories lines. I think when my brand becomes more stable on track I would also consider opening an accessories line under my brand in the future as well.
TPM: What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?
I think the main mission of Co-branding is to create some positive synergies and increase the premium that the customers are willing to pay by leveraging brand equity, utilizing brand advantages and market strength from each other.
TPM: How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?
I think good fashion PR agencies should be able to help their client brands promote their brand images and increase their brand recognition. Appropriate promotion strategies, networking and event planning skills are necessary. Good PR agencies should be able to use these skills and resources to help client brands boost their brand images and brand value in the public.
TPM: What designers inspire you and why?
Alexander McQueen (I admire and have great respect to his talent. I am deeply impressed by his works of savage beauty. He said “Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.” He brought me so many thoughts about humanity and life. And I would never forget the shock his collection “The Horn of Plenty” left in my heart.)
Phoebe Philo (I find sympathy for her works most of the time. I like her minimalist styles and I am always inspired by how she interprets the beauty of female body with her designs.)
TPM: There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?
Icons and designers who inspire and motivate me. In fact if I have chance, I want to meet them all.
TPM: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?
I believe e-commerce is an inevitable trend in the fashion retail market. For it reduces the costs of sales and brings up efficiency and convenience for sales and supply chain operation. It increases brand exposure and reduces geological restraint of the market as well, so that more people from different places will be able to see our products and purchase them easily. There is still some limitation for fashion e-commerce today however. There may be fitting issues, customers may want to touch and feel the materials. And quality issues, for example the colors may not 100% correctly show on the screens, etc… However, I believe as new technologies evolve, there will be solutions for these problems and issues in the future for sure. In fact some big clothing companies have already been using 3D image, VR technology which allow their customers to see, feel and even try on the garments online. With the fast evolving speed of the technology, I am holding positive perspective to the future of fashion e-commerce.