Jsen Wintle, chosen by Christopher Bailey at Burberry
Tell us about your rise to prominence on the British scene, it’s been a big few years
Basically we’ve been focusing on building the brand and allowing the collection to evolve. To be honest, the whole process has been dominated by the amount of orders we’ve been getting in. This will be our sixth season and time just goes by so very quickly, we’re really just trying to find our feet in the industry.
You’ve recently teamed up with Marks & Spencer, how did you adapt your designs to suit the brand?
It’s more a process of distilling the essence of the brand and adapting that to the M&S consumer. From a design point of view it really has informed my own collection. It would have been easy to go in with a bullish agenda, but it’s about working developmentally in tandem with the company. M&S have astounding production values, which has really inspired my own way of working.
What is it about menswear that appeals to you? Surely it must not share the same freedoms as womenswear design?
I actually really like the tight boundaries of menswear. There are definite restraints – particularly at the higher end of the market. But there’s also a lot of balance creatively and commercially which is really exciting – it’s about subtlety and evolution as opposed to womenswear, which is a whole different beast. Menswear is a lot more relaxed, whereas womenswear is about meteoric rises, and the inevitable crash that follows.
You have a broad creative pedigree, how have your past projects informed your work in fashion?
All my past pursuits have informed each other. It’s a very difficult question to answer. I’m bringing filmic elements into my next collection, which has obviously been informed by my previous work. My creative development has been very linear, I’ve just journeyed from one field to the other very naturally. As a creative industry, fashion gives you so much scope to work with. There’s much more creative freedom.
Who would you cite as your key fashion world influences?
I can honestly say that I don’t really have any inter-fashion world influences. I don’t feel like a fashion person as such – most of my outer-fashion circle of friends are very creative types. I feel fresher looking out rather than looking in.
Have you trained as a tailor?
I have an encyclopedic knowledge of tailoring, but I’m not a tailor. I shadowed a traditional tailor for a very long time – it’s the backbone of my business.
How would you best describe the British fashion industry?
It’s an industry of extremes. On one side there’s the super high-quality, extremely conservative tailoring, whilst at the bleeding edge of high-design womenswear. Those of us in the middle find it very hard to establish our spot. How do I find my space? I’m somewhere in-between I suppose. I feel a little bit isolated and I suppose that’s why we’ve gravitated towards showing in Paris – although my studio’s here. It’s something I struggle with – we want to show here in Britain but there just isn’t the same interest. It’s a slow process I suppose.
Who would you cite as your biggest inter-industry advocates thus far?
There are an awful lot of generous people who have given me an abundance of financial, creative and mental support of the years. From fashion editors to designers and general philanthropists in and out of the industry, I’ve had an awful lot of support and I’ve been extremely lucky.