photo by Mark Cardoso
StylishSarah's Q&A with Jason Campbell: "Judge of Cool"
SSP: How did growing up in different countries and cultures affect the development of your fashion career?
JC: My career has been fashioned largely on living and reporting with a worldview in mind. I think for many people, especially Americans, their home country stays their sole point of reference. For me, having been born in Jamaica, growing up in America and having lived in England, France and Argentina removes the element of borders, therefore I have friends and contacts in every part of the world and I get most of my work done through this network. When it came to starting the JC Report, the business plan was about a new business model, living and working from anywhere in the world while still being connected. i wouldn't have been so fearless had I been intimidated by different cultures and new surroundings.
SSP: What were the most important lessons learned at your various positions in the fashion industry and how do you think they have influenced your writing style, your voice, fashion sense and keen "eye?"
JC: After an early stint at In the Mix, a New York PR agency that was responsible for the launch of Alexander McQueen and Antonio Berardi, I recognized very early how an edgy underground brand can quickly raise its profile through brash marketing and the right endorsements. As a writer for everyone from Fashion Internet to Surface Magazine I learned first hand the power of the pen. As a stylist, I realized that a lot of people do not understand the power of fashion and don't always know how to best dress for their body. When you do show them and they get it, it amounts to a massive life change.
SSP: Tell me a little about netsetgoods: its rise and fall and its impact on the online fashion world today?
JC: I started Netsetgoods.com with my college roommate Mark Mangan(now CEO of Flavorpill.com). It was 1998 and we decided to start an online store with a magazine component. i sourced all the lifestyle goods from pashminas(the rage at the time) to modernist furniture. We knew the idea was golden, albeit ahead of its time and in the end more money was being spent than was coming in and we ultimately folded. There's vindication in the success of Net-a-Porter, a concept fashioned after Netsetgoods.com as Nathalie Massanet, the founder of Net-a-Porter told me.
SSP: How did the JC Report come about and what were your initial goals for it and it's mission? What is your voice and how similar is it to the voice of the JC Report?
JC: It evolved from a column I used to write for Magiconline. What I learned from that experience is that a lot of decision makers out there who fly blind when it comes to accessing trends, relevant regions of influence, and the sensibilities important to imaging and messaging. When Magiconline changed their online strategy, I used the mailing list of about 2,000 people and decided to own my voice and publish directly to this audience. I knew very early on that I had talent to anticipate what will influence people and which talents would make a mark. as for our voice, we do straight reporting with an urgent tone of getting in the know.
SSP: What makes you say, "this is the next big and best fashion designer" or "this is the next big trend?"
JC: I know instantly if a brand has a future when it comes to aesthetic. Having a strong business foundation is another story entirely: however, my ability to recognize good, quality products is instinctive and unequivocal. This is a skill I have total confidence in.
SSP: How do you spot an determine a trend?
JC: Spotting trends is an ongoing exercise. It's about identifying where a style is and where it's going, oftentimes trends from one season to the next season are polar opposites and you have anticipated that style sea change. Sometimes a trend sneaks up on you, like the explosion of Raybans that has been in vogue for the last couple of years. When something like that springs up and so quickly, you have to analyze and draw conclusions about how this will impact eyewear design and fashion in general going forward.
SSP: What makes the JC Report different from other fashion sites and platforms-daily news, editorial, fashion features, diary postings, video and e-commerce?
JC: We avoid fluff and dig to the heart of the issues that impact living a discerning fashionable lifestyle. We definitely tackle some of the those self-reflective issues that much of fashion does not and we do not pander to the industry. There's so much of "we can't way that" because it may offend in this industry and that baffles me. And our content is truly global from a first hand perspective.
SSP: What are your immediate goals for the JC Report as well as your personal fashion career? What are your long-term goals?
JC: We have a very loyal community who we feel want greater interaction with the brand. We're planning to expand our online store and focus on JC Premium, our quarterly Trend Report we sell on the site. In five years, I envision it as the premiere address for global lifestyle intelligence.
SSP: Aside from the Internet Age, the recession has turned the fashion world upside down. What immediate effects have you noticed on the fashion industry and do you think they are temporary or permanent?
JC: The effects were huge temporarily. Stores and brands closed and those that didn't were living in a state of panic for more than a year. The price of closing was heavily scrutinized, especially during the holiday period in 2008 when so much was deeply discounted, i think for many people they were like 'wait a minute' if the price can drop so drastically at the will of stores, why then are they so high to begin with. I think the curtains were pulled back and consumers were exposed to too much. Things have bounced back at least in my circle but I do think there will be lasting effects from this period.
For more information: www.jcreport.com
interview by Sarah Sulzberger Perpich (www.stylishsarah.com)