Photos c/o Colony
Y'all should know by now that I am rarely seen without a pair of specs glued to my face (less the Wintour factor & more that it genuinely is glarey here way out west), and by far my favourite are a pair of serious white catseyes by Australian label Colony, which I picked up at Alice Euphemia a year ago. The bold, clean form of the style had immediate appeal, and the more I wear them the more I value their graphic weight and versatility - how they bring a contemporary twist to vintage outfits and a bit of vintage sass to a sunday-morning-shorts-and-tshirt getup, how even though they get thrown in my bag and shoved on my head they still look immaculate. They weren't cheap, but they were well worth it. These, I thought to myself, have been designed by someone who gets it.
And they were, too. After stalking Colony's instagram and amazing tumblr I found myself wanting to know more about the lady behind the lenses, so caught up with Jess to find out what drives her design practice:
Sunnies - a pretty specialised art form. What got you into eyewear?
I studied product design at university, and kind of battled with the degree, as I wanted to be studying art or fashion more. In my final year I got really obsessed with fashion and trying the find the perfect version of every item in my wardrobe (a never ending project am i right?) when perhaps I should have been trying to design the most ergonomically sound chair out of recycled wood. So in that process I was on the search for "the perfect cat eye, I settled for a vintage pair of Christian Roth's but they felt too retro, and when a suitable project came along I ended up designing my own take on the cat eye.
Your products are beautifully made - do you assemble everything yourself?
Actually no! While high quality craftsmanship and materials are very important to me, it's also very important to me that the business not rely on me having to make the product- it leaves very little room for growth. I'd rather source amazing craftspeople who specialise in sunglasses or whatever products I may do in the future. Though I have been known to fondle plastic, make rough models and emboss and hand sew soft leather cases ;)
You're originally from QLD, now live in VIC. Having made a similar move myself I can see the appeal, what do you dig about Melbourne?
I grew up moving a lot, so moving just felt like a natural progression after I graduated. I have a love hate relationship with Melbourne. I hate the fact that it's not New York. Also Melbourne isn't a place you explore so much, you find what you like and stick to it (a double edged sword), which for me is Smith Street Fitzroy/Collingwood. I love the lifestyle of riding my bike into the studio, frequenting places like Everyday Coffee and Proud Mary for amazing coffee, being only a few minutes walk from my clients and friends, having a cheeky wine in the studio.
The fashion industry is a hard slog, most of us have to balance with a day job...how do you spend your for-money-not-love time?
It is! In addition to Colony sunglasses I consult fashion brands and other businesses on social media, online strategy and business growth and also do lots of graphic design and book layouts. I'm so fortunate to have only amazing clients who are already creative and have excellent taste, but together we take things to the next level. I'm super opinionated and can't help but offer my advice to almost everyone I meet about their business' design and marketing, and this often leads to them wanting to get me involved in a more formal way. I'm very passionate about what they do and love seeing them succeed! I am also a trend reporter for WGSN on Australian fashion, which I love.
I am very inspired by what is new, what is next. I love finding images and designs that are totally fresh, something I haven't seen before.
Any plans to explore other areas of adornment, or happy delving deeper into the current stream?
All areas of adornment! But one step at a time, it's a challenge but I'm learning to pace myself and grow organically, even though I am very Gen Y and want to do everything right now.
Jess has been working on Colony since 2011, but releases collections at her own pace as she feels they are ready, which I have a lot of respect for (development & refinement are such important stages of the design process, but seem to get skimmed over all too often these days). The next one, Future Be Kind, is coming soon - keep an eye on her website, I know I will be!