From architecture student to bond broker to womenswear designer, Zoe Jordan didn’t have the traditional route into fashion.
Since launching her premium womenswear brand in spring 12, she’s grown her business in a similar style, doing things her own way and amassing global stockists that include Harrods, Fenwick of Bond Street and US department store Saks Fifth Avenue. Spring 16 wholesale prices range from £90 for shorts to £250 for a dress.
For spring 16 you staged a digital fashion show. Why did you decide to do that?
I had a digital fashion show during New York Fashion Week that unveiled the collection to the industry and consumers simultaneously. I was keen to create a democratic show experience that included consumers from the off. Consumers are the make-or-break of a business, so why not bring them in on the brand experience?
In addition to the democratic approach, showing digitally allows you to appropriate budget more effectively. We shot the lookbook and collection simultaneously and created assets for us to share with retailers and press to use throughout the season. This more agile approach is really important to me and I always seek out options that best suit my business at the time.
Do you think this is the future for fashion shows?
I think that having the choice to do what’s right for your brand is the future for fashion shows. What’s right for one collection may not be right for the next. I enjoy the variety. Fashion is a huge industry and a one-size-fits-all approach seems a little antiquated.
You recently launched a collaboration collection with River Island’s Design Forum. How did you go about blending your own style and approach with that of a high street retailer?
Designing for a different audience was a great learning experience. You get to explore materials and silhouettes differently, while still staying true to your style. I really appreciate these experiences and it all goes towards strengthening my own work too.
Last season, you moved your catwalk show from London to New York. Why did you do this?
Again, this is about choice. The US is a focus market for the brand; contemporary womenswear sells well there and our sell-through at Saks supports that. So showing as part of New York Fashion Week was the right platform for the brand now.
Zoë Jordan spring 16
Tell us about Knitlab. Why did you launch it?
Knitlab is an evolving capsule collection of cashmere wool knitwear that exists outside of conventional fashion seasons and is available year round. It can be merchandised in with the main collections or bought separately. It came about as a reaction to firstly, the way we’re consuming and secondly, the weather.
Tell us about your route into fashion, having studied architecture and worked as a bond trader. How did you make the leap to being a designer?
As a trader, I had to wear suits. It was a male-dominated workplace and it made me think about the power and purpose of the clothes I wore. It inspired me to create clothes that women would feel comfortable in and would wear into the evening for dinner and drinks.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Get your finances in order and never underestimate costs.
What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s ever-changing and full of challenges.
And what’s the worst?
It’s ever-changing and full of challenges.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
Accolades are amazing and I’m very grateful, but the highlight has to be seeing women going about their lives in my designs – it never gets old.
What’s the biggest misconception about the fashion industry?
That it’s fluffy. It’s big business that everyone buys into and as an industry it’s full of the most inspiring and intelligent talent.
Zoë Jordan for River Island Design Forum
What’s the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
My wedding dress, an ash-blonde lace dress adapted from my spring 12 collection, with a fishtail and long zip.
What do you do to get inspired?
Social media provides the most incredible, unedited inspiration pool. It’s a direct link to what people think, what they’re wearing and how. It’s an invaluable tool for me. I’ve always been very plugged into arts and culture and frequent galleries and shows too.
As a womenswear designer, do you wear your own designs?
That’s part of the fun. I mix pieces with other designers and labels too.
Heels or flats?
Flats. One Prada pair in particular.
Skirts or trousers?
Shorts! I live in my tailored shorts suits.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
Now Jose’s on the ropes, I’m eyeing up the role of Chelsea FC manager!