LONDON – Take a little bit of minimalism, a dash of functionality, and loads of enthusiasm. Now imagine two product designers, both leaders in the field of design. Swap ‘product’ for ‘fashion’, add a touch of Margiela’s legacy in numbers, and what you end up with might well be called Jijibaba.
Jiji-what? No, the odd-sounding name doesn’t refer to the latest Disney motion picture. We’re talking high-quality apparel here, a brand-new menswear label with a profound design caliber. The latter thanks to the brand’s two creative directors, Jasper Morrison and Jaime Hayon (jury member of the Frame Awards), who used their expertise and years of experience in industrial design to create the most wearable pieces. Everything, from the always-in-stock pieces to the outsider’s approach and sustainable ethics of the brand, resonates with the now.
The first 38 pieces of the evolving collection (named Number 1 to Number 38) have just stepped into the limelight as part of London Design Festival. Here are twelve things you should know about the label:
1. The name doesn’t mean anything.
‘We looked for a name that sounded fresh and which didn’t have a meaning,’ admit the designers, who ‘just liked’ the sound of Jijibaba.
2. The collection includes accessories as well as clothing.
The collection includes overcoats, shirts, jackets, trousers, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, cardigans, scarves, and wallets designed by the creative directors. In addition to product development, Morrison and Hayon are responsible for selecting designers to contribute to the evolving collection in the future. They see the brand as ‘a growing community of designers coming from various disciplines’. New names have yet to be announced, however.
3. Jijibaba’s creative directors split up designing the collection.
The pieces from Number 1 to Number 21 are designed by Hayon: the other 19 come from Morrison.
4. You don’t have to shop (or wear!) the collection according to number.
The Jijibaba lookbook mixes and matches items from the collection, and you can ignore the numerical reasoning altogether to create different combinations. No total looks required!
5. In the spirit of Morrison's design approach, Jijibaba says more with less.
Morrison tells us that the editorialized looks result from a rejection of unnecessary detailing, ‘hopefully unpretentiously natural in how and what the designs express’.
6. It all started when sparks flew during a casual conversation.
The idea for Jijibaba was born from a chat Morrison and Hayon had in Madrid. ‘We discovered that we both had an interest in designing clothes, and looking at the result, Jijibaba is a pretty linear development of the original discussion we had,’ says Morrison. This is their first-ever collaboration, with the designers roping in Richard Schlagman – entrepreneur and former owner of publishing house Phaidon – for the business side of things.
‘Our mission is to develop a clothing company that offers clothes with quality and consideration for the wearer,’ says Morrison. ‘The selection available to men is quite limited: either very conservative or overly expressive, so I think there’s a lot of space for a company like Jijibaba which offers something else. I think both of us, in our own way, have managed to design clothes which have character and a certain cheerful expressiveness.’
7. The collection draws on the duo’s skills in interior and object design.
Hayon says: ‘Designing for fashion isn’t that different from creating objects, if you focus on your conceptual ideas. Both fields are about choosing colours and materials, thinking about themes, and looking at shapes and volumes. My knowledge as a designer informs even something as small as a button. I feel that what you make in fashion needs to be very comfortable. And maybe taste and materials have a stronger influence on the outcome than they would in product design. But similarities dominate; in the end it's all about creating your own planet anyway.’
8. Menswear was a selfish choice.
Morrison says: ‘I wouldn’t presume to know what I’m doing when designing womenswear, but having some personal experience in buying and wearing clothes, and observing men’s fashion with self-interest, I think gives me a reasonable basis to try. I’m designing for me, with the hope that others might appreciate it too, which is what I’ve always done designing anything!’
9. However, that doesn’t mean women can’t also enjoy the collection.
Morrison adds: ‘My wife always looks better in my clothes than I do, so it’s possible for women to wear some of the more casual jackets. And Jaime’s pieces will probably do well with women I would think.’
10. The designers don’t believe in being gimmicky.
‘I believe innovation comes from the approach we have towards this design discipline,’ says Hayon. ‘It’s not so much about inventing new things all the time. It's about telling stories and making nice things that last and appeal to people. “Something we would like to wear” is probably our first rule, to make something good and honest.’
11. A must-buy piece:
Morrison says, ‘I like Hayon’s long jackets with the duck wristbands best; they look relatively normal until you notice the detailing!’
12. Finally, how to get your hands on Jijibaba…
Jijibaba is currently sold exclusively at Dover Street Market London and is available online at the Dover Street Market e-shop. From October, the collection will be available at Dover Street Market New York, Ginza and Singapore.