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I AND ME is the London denim line designed to transcend seasons

I AND ME is the London denim line designed to transcend seasons

Interview by Alex Free
on Jessica Gebhart, founder & creative director of I AND ME

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Hailing from East London, UK, I AND ME make short-run denim garments that emphasize quality and design alongside the reduction of water, chemical, and electrical use in production. Their collections are small love poems to the present moment, aesthetic statements that bring wearability, durability, interest, and grace into cohesive pieces made to wear for life. Each line is sustainably made, with cuts and profiles that blend and blur gender binaries and focus on the natural beauties of the human body, fabric, and colours.

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Alex Free:
One thing I see associated with I AND ME is the idea of 'investment pieces.’ I’ve heard a lot about the idea of heirloom and heritage pieces and the idea of buying an object made for multi-generational wear, can you tell me about the concept of investment in a piece of clothing and what that means to you? 

Jessica Gebhart:
When working on the concept of I AND ME the one thing I was clear about was that I wanted the brand to be based around the idea of wardrobe staples. We offer collections rather than seasonal trends that customers can build upon to create their key wardrobe that never tires or gets old. To me, an ‘investment piece’ simply means a product that has been designed with integrity and longevity at the forefront. It’s a piece that doesn’t need to stand out necessarily, but it will always be one that you return to again and again because the styling or shape is timeless. Sourcing plays a big part in the designing of a collection as the fabrications are so important to this process. They need to be special, exciting and sometimes with very unique attributes. Many of the fabrics that we source will not be found anywhere else. 

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Alex Free:
Your collections are like wearable exhibitions, or short theses on fashion and art. What’s going through your mind when you’re putting a collection together?
 Are you always looking to strike a fine point between wearability day-to-day and a more elite sense of aesthetic for your garments? 


Jessica Gebhart:
Thank you, that’s quite the compliment! 

When I am starting to work on the development of a new collection it will have a general feel or mood in terms of an aesthetic that has inspired me, very often this comes from travelling, art, culture. I then start sourcing fabrics and a colour palette around this and then finally design into the fabrics in garment form. It’s always very driven by the fabrics and colours, this is what excites me the most. The creative direction for a collection then starts making sense, it all becomes about the aesthetics of the whole mood. This is all about the story telling. 

 

Alex Free:
What does it mean to you to see your pieces worn out on the street? 


Jessica Gebhart:
It’s really a very humbling feeling to see someone wearing our product on the street or even just getting amazing feedback from a customer. Each person we can reach through our sustainable products makes it all worth while. It means we have played a part in re-educating people and changing their buying habits. Shopping with independent brands who take the time and care to source and produce slowly and responsibly is so important and we see the proper rewards when someone stood there in some I AND ME. 

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Alex Free:
Also, collections? Not seasons. 

Jessica Gebhart:
Our products take time to get right and rushing to produce 2 or 4 seasons a year, in my eyes can cheapen how people see the value of products. Putting more and more on the shelves means unsold stock, markdowns and ultimately waste. We work at a slower pace which helps reduce all of this! 

 

Alex Free:
There’s a lot of stress placed on constant production of new works, for the sake of competition or appearance or just to stay in the public eye. What’s the balance of self-care with production & consumption, particularly as we aim to create sustainability in our individual lives and on a global level?  

Jessica Gebhart:
Consumption is the major issue with the fashion industry, this is one of the reasons why we launched I AND ME, to offer an alternative to the vicious, throw away cycle that we were witnessing. There is still so much work to be done to educate shoppers in this way. 

 Buying less but buying better is a lesson we can all use in all parts of our lives. 

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Alex Free:
Sustainability is a massive subject in fashion at the moment. I’ve heard a range of views, from arguments that we need pervasive sustainability measures implemented across all levels of fashion by 2024, to the idea that we’re already in a post-sustainable world. What do you see sustainability looking like in the future of fashion? 

Jessica Gebhart:
It would be nice to not have to shout about the fact that you are a progressive, sustainable brand, trying your best and making changes to how your business is run because it was just the norm for the whole industry. That’s what I hope the future of fashion looks like, from high-street to high-end.

 Sustainability has become almost like a trend in itself. It’s a real buzz word at the moment, everyone really needs to work together in making a big change. The brands, stores, mills, manufacturers, influencers etc ,—we are all responsible, as are we all as consumers.

 I AND ME was born five years ago and was always built around this model but for older, bigger and established  brands it will take longer to make changes to their set-ups, this simply can’t happen over night for everyone.

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Art director and stylist
Isabelle Landicho-Redman @lethal_izzle

Photographer
Elena Cremona @elenacremona

Words
Alex Free @alexfree_hii

Clothes
I and Me @_iandme_

Model
Miles from Kinshasa @milesfromkinshasa

Assistant
Moeysha Ashley @m0eysha


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