It is not often that a recently graduated, fresh faced designer rises to become a nationally recognised and respected designer in such a short space of time but Brett de Jager has done just that. Moda de la Mode has teamed up with the designer for an exclusive interview that delves deeper inside the mind of this creative genius and even gives you advice on how to break into the industry.
I was first introduced to Brett de Jager through the designer Katrina Ferrari, who I was also lucky enough to be able to interview for the blog. The recently graduated Brett de Jager has caused a storm in the fashion world with a plethora of attention and media hype surrounding his name and his graduate collection, ‘Punx on Safari’.Being brought up on the vast, vibrant plains of South Africa; Brett de Jager’s childhood was infused with a rich and diverse culture which is unique to Africa and one which Brett recently rediscovered on an extended 7 month trip back to his homeland. Being based in London, Brett de Jager is at the centre of British fashion providing the perfect backdrop in which to show his latest collection. In the interview, you will discover just what inspires Brett de Jager to create his iconic and outstanding designs which unite two countries so diverse in culture and identity.
1) Have you always known that you would become a designer. If not, when you were a child, what was your dream occupation?
I have always been interested in fashion, and when I became fashion aware, I would always get my mom to copy something someone, usually Boy George, was wearing at the time. My mom was a great influence as well as she was always sewing for my brothers and I, and I was always amazed she could create garments without a single pattern or block. After leaving school in Durban, South Africa I wanted to enrol in Fashion Design at the Technical College, but as that meant spending the summer holidays putting a portfolio together I passed it up and did a Video Technology course instead. I fulfilled my next dream occupation as dancer which was a great way of travelling and seeing the world. I guess I have come full circle having just completed my degree at London College of Fashion in Menswear.
2) What does fashion mean to you? How has it shaped who you are as a person and as a designer?
Being who you are and being comfortable with yourself, knowing exactly what you like without being a slave to the latest trend. It’s the ability to express yourself and your identity freely. It’s allowed me to push the boundaries sometimes, especially regarding menswear, and given me carte blanche to express myself as well.
As a designer your inspirations and influences can come from all kinds of places such as art, architecture, cultures, holiday destinations. Anywhere and anything really, for example I spent 7 months in South Africa last year and was there for the FIFA World Cup. I’m definitely not a football fan, but the whole atmosphere, colours, sounds and energy was a great influence in my final collection at LCF.
3)What inspires you to design? A lot of designers have a muse, do you and if so why do they inspire you?
I definitely do not have a muse. I am normally influenced by art, architecture or nature itself. I first like to create the mood of the collection and then take it from there. The clothes, however crazy in design or fabric choice, must be aesthetically pleasing to the eye and comfortable to wear.
4) What is the best bit of advice you have received?
On deciding to do my degree as a mature student, my sister and close friend Sylva, ‘Remember you decided to do this, so when the going gets tough, no one forced you to do this.’
5) What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?
Be true to yourself, work hard and be kind to others. It can be a small world this industry and you never know when you may need the help or assistance of someone, and if you have stepped on too many toes, especially at the beginning it can only make things a lot harder for you.
6) Many designers such as Dolce & Gabbana use fashion bloggers to promote their collections and invite them to the fashion shows to report on their collections. What is your view on fashion bloggers?
Social networking and blogging have really come into their own especially in the last couple of years, and Fashion is such a huge machine, that every input to keep the cogs of this well-oiled machine turning can only help. I for one do not buy fashion magazines; I never have and never felt the need to do so. I would rather go online and read what some independent blogger has to say, and it also gives journalists starting out, the chance to put their work out there and promote them. If it wasn’t for fashion bloggers I wouldn’t have received any of the exposure that I have.
7) What is the one item of clothing you wish people wore more often?
I wish people would dress up more and make an effort full stop! I also wish people would dress according their size and wear clothes that actually fit them.
8)If you could design an outfit for anyone in the world, past or present, who would it be, why and what would you make them?
If I said anyone besides Boy George, my friends would be cursing me as he has been a huge influence on me since my teenage years. He is a living legend and a British Icon and has always been one to set his own style and not one to be influenced by the latest trends of the day. Even Lady Gaga said she grew up wanting to be him. It would be a bespoke 3 piece suit with lots of surface textile detail, hand painted motifs and hand beaded detail.
9) As a designer, you have a very hectic life. Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
It would have to be anywhere that is hot and sunny, with a beautiful sandy beach. Thailand was beautiful and would definitely love to go back there.
10) Where is your favourite place on the high street to shop?
I don’t really have a favourite place on the high street, especially when it comes to menswear as everything seems to be very generic. For inspiration I do like browsing, second hand shops, the women’s department in Topshop and Camden Market. Another shop I love browsing in for inspiration is Junky Styling in Brick Lane, for their deconstructed, re-cut and reformed clothing.