It’s hard to believe Jennifer McCloy calls herself a boring dresser.
The designer behind Jennifer Kate showed her Resort ’17 collection at MBFWA this week, and it could have had anyone fooled.
In her second year showing at MBFWA, McCloy stepped outside her comfort zone. Routine leather and signature suede pieces offered a timeless allure, while others were decorated with hand-painted florals, adding an artistic flair not usually seen in the label’s clean designs.
“I never wear colour and only staple shapes. So to have models wearing silver shoes, black socks and painting on the leather, was a huge step up creatively for me,” says McCloy.
This creative stride comes from her collaboration with Aaron Favaloro, the quirky fashion illustrator and mastermind behind Gigi Hadid’s VS painted leather jacket. Having already worked with Favaloro in the US, McCloy couldn’t pass the opportunity to do it again. But the collab wouldn't have happened if it weren't for social media.
Or, more specifically, Instagram.
“I saw a post he had done and thought it looked so cool, something I would love to collaborate with. I sent him a direct message through Instagram. Or maybe I stalked him and found his email address,” she laughs.
"Social media can really help in that way…you can draw inspiration so easily.”
A few emails later and voilà – the duo got down to creative business.
Not only limited to connecting with cool dudes like Favaloro, social media means Jennifer Kate can connect with consumers in a much more personal way.
“There’s unparalleled value in somebody posting your clothes, they are an instant advocate for you.”
As for sponsored posts? She’s not so much a fan.
“I really loathe those sponsored posts... There’s no value in posts where bloggers have been paid 'X’ amount to wear something. For me, the value of a blogger is that they’re giving their personal opinion.”
While it’s easy to love social media, McCloy warns it’s a full time job and not everyone can be good at it. “People do overuse it. When people are posting everything all the time, consumers get sick of it. You don’t want to be filling up people’s feeds.
“Because social media allows you to connect with consumers in a much more personal way, you need to respect that and use it in an appropriate way,” she adds.
Besides showing her collection, McCloy hung around at MBFWA, joining Microsoft Surface’s discussion panel. Giving a designer's point of view, McCloy was one of the influencers joining the panel to discuss technology’s influence on fashion.
Already, her collections have tapped into technology, allowing consumers to ‘shop the runway’ moments after it's shown.
“It’s hard when you’re a consumer and you see things on the runway and you’re like: ‘I want it now,’" says McCloy.
“Social media means everybody wants things right now. I think designers are responding really well to that”.
Her choice of technology, I ask?
Second to her phone, WhatsApp is one of the designer’s most used. With most of Jennifer Kate's manufacturing done off shore, the cross-platform messaging app is a good way to maintain a close relationship with manufacturers.
“I have them all on WhatsApp. They contact me about 15 times a day about anything, all the time.”
It means a quick turnover for the label.
"Software means we’re able to send our designs immediately, to wherever we need to send them, then have them sent back with imagery and all that sort of stuff.”
As for the designer’s favourite piece from the collection, she couldn’t decide. But when it comes down to leather or suede, it’s a clear choice. At least for a couple of seconds.
“Suede... But if you asked me tomorrow I’ll probably say leather,” she laughs.