JCR: The impression is that Kim Jones is making major moves and fast. What’s happening with the label?
KJ: It was never intentional to start out so quickly. For me it’s quite hard that it’s going so fast, because we’re still a small company with a small company budget. So everything is going really quickly and we’re chasing up behind it. At the moment we’ve just moved PR to KCD, and we decided to show in Paris because it was the only place to go, the next step really.
JCR: You have an Umbro endorsement spanning three seasons now?
KJ: I’m just about to do the fourth season. Since I left college I’ve worked with them as a consultant. They let me do what I want and I find it very easy to do, probably because it’s something that I’m naturally interested in. Everyone wears sportswear and I find myself always wearing track pants or something. It’s quite spontaneous. Quite a lot of my work is spontaneous, we don’t deliberate for years and years–we just do it. And that’s why I think we can work on so much stuff.
JCR: The relationship only seems to be growing, could it turn into a collaboration of the Yohji and Adidas scale?
KJ: There’s no such plan at the moment. But Umbro is getting such good feedback that they’re definitely renewing my contract which I’m negotiating right now. And it’s nice to work for an English company. I love living in England, I don’t particularly want to move abroad. I wouldn’t mind being in New York for part of the year but all my friends are here.
JCR: And it’s not just any English company, it’s an iconic one. Umbro is at the heart of English heritage.
KJ: Before me they had never worked with designers before. Now they’re working with Dirk Bikkembergs as well, and he’s been around for a long time. It’s flattering that I was the first one that they got involved with. It’s similar with the Topman situation. Topshop had several designers doing lines for them, but Topman had never done that. And when they asked me to design for them that was really great. I’ve stopped that now but it’s a compliment when people ask you. Also, Topman sold out in two weeks, Umbro sells really well. These projects are getting to the people who understand it, which is really good.
JCR: The word is that KCD, the powerhouse fashion PR company, came to you to produce your Paris show?
KJ: I was only going to do the show with them because I was worried about costs and things like that. But I feel like it’s an investment being there and they think that I could go all the way so they’ve been really backing me and have been very supportive.
JCR: What’s your feeling about how your show went in Paris?
KJ: I think it went really well. I know some people didn’t particularly warm to it but I think the majority of people who came knew my stuff and hadn’t seen it on such a scale. So the people who knew me already were really impressed, and the people that didn’t certainly have an interest now.
JCR: Tell us about the youthful eroticism that permeated the show if not your whole brand…
KJ: I’m always interested in youth culture and the different movements. This collection was rooted in an American look. I did a book with Luke [Smalley] and I wanted the show to follow the casting from that.
JCR: So that’s where the image of the strapping and hunky 16-year-olds with their clothes coming off derives from? I thought it was highly erotic.
KJ: You think so? We were laughing at how much these boys must actually work out to be that big at 17 or 18 years old.
JCR: You appear to be on the pulse of the new youth culture that plays with sexual identity…
KJ: I don’t really think about it like that. I just see something in the beginning of the season, a person for example, and everyone else is chosen to match them. Look number one from this show was the first person I had in mind at the beginning of the season.
JCR: It’s someone who you feel embodies your collection?
KJ: Someone I feel should be wearing my clothes.
JCR: Look number one from this show is, I’m told, a Japanese-Mexican model…
KJ: Yes, he did a show for me in Japan a couple of years ago and he fit my vision for the season.
JCR: Your tailoring is not in-the-face, but clearly you have a high regard for precision tailoring.
KJ: That’s why we chose to use a bespoke tailor. Tailoring is such an art. Everyone could do the spec drawing, but you need a professional to make it beautiful. That’s one thing about being a London designer; you have that option to go to Savile Row or somewhere like that to get your suits made. And I thought, “why don’t I do that?” And we’re going to move it to ready-to-wear next season.
JCR: So tailoring is an important part of your story?
KJ: It’s not a massive part of the story but it does need to be in there.
JCR: Is Tokyo your source of inspiration? You’re often associated with the city.
KJ: I’m interested in the Japanese market, as it’s one of my biggest markets.
JCR: You have a store there, correct?
KJ: Yes. It’s not so much for inspiration, but there’s technology there that develops quicker than over here which is good. I’m lucky to have access to that.
JCR: Do you get nervous about this explosive growth?
KJ: It does scare me, the fast pace, but I think I’ve done 20 collections since I left college three years ago, so I’ve learned a lot. Several people commented that they expected more from me, from the show, and that’s fine. But financially I can’t afford to do everything just yet, but just you wait, and I will.
Photo: Kim Jones Look number 1 S/S ’05
Kim Jones S/S ’05
Jones for Umbro fall ’04