A chat with CSM graduate Gerrit Jacob

Dear Shaded Viewers,

By now you know that I am always looking for exciting new talent and that is what I’ve found in the work of CSM graduate Gerrit Jacob. My interest is not only in creative design but also designers that are thinking about sustainability in a fresh way. It’s not that difficult to find designers focusing on sustainability but what is difficult is to find designers that are capable of merging fashion with eco friendly substance.

DP: Where did you grow up and tell me a little how your own environment has effected the way you design or the fact that you do design? You talk about class-based identities – can you expand on that idea a bit?

GJ: I grew up both in Hamburg and a town further north called Bad Bramstedt (Karl Lagerfeld also grew up in both of those btw) and I can definitely say that those 2 cities hugely impacted the way I approach designing. I think peoples taste is often very strongly linked to their upbringing in terms of nationality and class background and I can definitely say that that is the case with me.

A lot of the work is about looking at perverting garments and fabrics usually identified with a specific socio-economic background. I love taking fabrics and techniques that the wearer has a relationship with and providing them in an entirely different context, e.g. making cargo trousers out of raincoat rubber, thermal tops out of corsetry fabrics or boxing boots out of teddy bear fabric.

DP: What is a normal day in your life like since you graduated?

GJ: I have started a design job in Italy since graduation so I pretty unspectacularly go to work everyday.

DP: Your graduation collection was very impressive, inventive and very wearable. Where do things stand for you now in regards to your next collection, and producing pieces from your current collection?

GJ: Thank you! After this one I was so broke I was keeping myself afloat by selling those bandanas but London is so expensive that I had no option but to take on a full-time job so whilst I am currently not working on another collection the plan in the mid-term is definitely to start a company within a few years.

DP: Did you get any interest from big brands when you showed at school?

GJ: Yes 😉

DP: Who or what in fashion inspired you to get in to fashion in the first place?

GJ: Since a very young age I have always drawn and my mom is very creative so then at some point when I was 13 or 14 I just started drawing girls in clothes rather than naked to be completely honest.

DP: How do you source your materials, are they up-cycled or re-appropriated from existing garments?

GJ: I liked the idea of each look of such a small collection to have it’s own feel and story so there’s a lot of different materials and techniques within the collection. The knitwear and the denim were both made from old pieces from charity shops and ebay, the prints have all been applied to really basic, commonly available cottons. I really like materials and techniques with strong connotations that evoke some sort of reaction or memory to the wearer, wether that’s old denim, pleather or raincoat rubber.

DP: Tell me about the denim pieces, is the material recuperated or new? I would imagine someone like OTB Renzo Rosso would be knocking at your door for consultation if not more than that.

GR: There’s 2 denim looks which were both approached separately. The grey one is made by my helper and good friend Jegor in London out of recycled denim fabric provided by Isko which I went to Italy for where a company called Tonello kindly provided me with a wash sponsorship where I got to experiment with their laser treatments which recreate traditional washes in a far less toxic way. Laser treatments are still not 100% close to the traditional techniques but I think they’re getting very close which is a good thing!

The blue one was made out of stripes of old jeans that were all strange washes and colours and fits and by cutting them all into stripes we were able to reconstruct proper garments out of them. I like denim a lot because it’s such a ubiquitous material yet it can actually be quite difficult to design something compelling out of it.

DP: With the oil cloth Chinese/Industrial jacket, what is the story on that textile and the construction? And the chains, is it flocked metal to look a bit like rust and how are they incorporated into your designs?

GR: I’m happy that you’re asking because a lot of time and thought went into every aspect of every piece and that one was particularly difficult to figure out actually. I had this vintage coat made out of a beautiful coated rubber twill which was really heavy but still felt like a real fabric. I searched all of London for something similar, contacting an endless list of suppliers trying to find something nice, all of it with no luck. Then we got into experimenting with coatings and managed to find a thin vinyl coating (the sort that is usually used for Bachelor-party T-shirts) that gave the desired effect of looking rubbery while still being something that is nice to wear. The oily effect came from literally rubbing in oil and dirt, there was something quite nice about taking something so constructed and laborious and literally rubbing it on the floor.

DP: What are your thoughts on the fashion industry and the health of the planet, ..landfill, fashion pollution, etc. etc. carbon footprint..how do those facts effect how you choose to work in fashion?

GR:  I don’t think we need to dispute that the fashion industry is a huge polluter in the world, which we all know to be true. I think it’s very commendable when people dedicate their work to working sustainably and I do think that there is a halo-effect to be achieved from that.

However for myself what I think is really interesting is how to improve large-scale production techniques in terms of their environmental impact as in my opinion any long-term effect will result from improvements that can be implemented for mass-production.

DP: For now what is your structure to sell?

GR: Something that was quite nice to see was people approaching me on Instagram to buy the bandanas. I wasn’t thinking of selling them initially but people were asking for them so we made a batch and sold them all so I think going forward this direct approach definitely has something special to it. What I like about being a small designer is that you can offer something to people in terms of actual product that bigger brands couldn’t or wouldn’t want to offer. The bandanas are printed by hand with 5 screens and their imperfection gives them something personal which I quite like.

DP: What is your objective and ideally where do you want to go with your work?

GR: In the mid-term I am definitely thinking about starting a company but for the moment I am looking to get a bit more experience as I believe in when doing something it should be done properly.

DP: Have you shown your work to shops like Stavros Karelis at Machine-A  or Adrian Joffe for DSM, or Hirofumi Kurino at United Arrows

GR: Living in London I could barely afford to pay rent & eat, let alone having any sort of social life or making more clothes, (which is very expensive) so for the moment I am not looking to selling to stores but who knows what the future will hold.

Thank you.





Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.