Jacinta Demetriou, designer behind the Jacinta James brand, studied Visual Arts at Monash University in Melbourne, majoring in Textile and Installation Art. Afterwards she focused her learning to a degree Fashion Design at RMIT in Melbourne and went to study Couture Techniques in Paris. Jacinta worked with several national and international designers, like Rick Owens, Jonathan Cohen and Kit Willow.
Together with her partner she guides lifestyle towards low waste consumption, organic shopping, supporting local farmers and co-ops, traders and artisans and invests in likeminded conscious businesses. Her lifestyle choices influence the conscious direction of the brand and vice versa. The mantra across her lifestyle and its disciplines is simply ‘honour her’ – a conscious commitment to live lightly and lovingly in honour of mother nature and all those who share her space.”
One of her biggest worries around current fashion system is a lack of awareness. She believes that if fashion businesses, brands and designers were all to understand their role to “simply create consciously” we would be looking at a far more sustainable future of fashion.
“To be honest, ethical and sustainable lifestyle choices have embedded their way more deeply into my life simply through an intuitive consciousness. I invest my personal time in opening my learning up to concepts around conscious and intuitive self-care. The choices I make in my lifestyle is through considering myself, those around me and our planet as one and the same, caring for all equally, consciously and lovingly.”
The idea of being connected to the larger whole is at the centre of Jacinta’s personal belief system and so it is also central to the values of the Jacinta James brand.
Jacinta’s work is inspired by amazing women like Georgia O Keefe for her quintessential style, minimalism and celebration of nature and Sade Adu’s music “she is a grounded woman of such grace, poise and elegance which comes through in her sound”. She also finds inspiration in sculptures from Renaissance and Classicism era “particularly of Gods and Goddesses, or Mythology tales in general. Mostly though, Mother Gaia herself, she is the most inspiring woman of all, and she deserves to be honoured so greatly. “
“Launching the label was an exciting time, although from a sustainable operations perspective it did have its challenges. Just a few years ago, there were less sustainable or certified supplies and suppliers, and what was available was often difficult to access as an emerging brand. This is where the design elements of the brand were and still are so very important at the core of what we do. At heart, it comes down to designing versatile multi-wear styles, timeless and high-quality garments, ensuring low and occasionally zero waste patterns, using natural fibres and repurposing our off-cut waste. These are all sustainable elements within the brand that start from the design process and is a manageable sustainable approach all contained within the studio. From there, we have introduced certified and accredited materials as we have grown, while also working with sustainably focused manufacturers, knitters and fabric printers. There are many future goals to implement with each stage of growth, and I am excited for our next sustainable steps ahead.”
From design to construction, all their production processes are based in Australia, with many of them worked on by hand. “We believe fashion to be personal, not only for our clients but for the people who make our clothes too. We know the talented people who make our clothes by name, we know their families and their stories. We believe in supporting small family run businesses and local skills. I love the process of making and problem solving with our creative partners. I learn from our talented makers and suppliers every day, and our quality is such a reflection of this passionate, hands on exchange we share. We nurture these relationships because they are precious to us.”
“What we create at Jacinta James is in rejection of seasonality, fast fashion, trend and waste. It focuses on timeless, versatile, conscious styles that offer an heirloom quality to those that wish to cherish it. This is our active and creative way of communicating the brand values and encourage our wearers towards a conscious approach. “
They make to order, does not hold stock and only produce what’s needed. Patterns are low waste, with some even at zero waste. “We see the value in our offcuts which are made into our signature trims such as our fabric covered buttons and bias trims, or large pieces are designed back into our volumes to create soft accessories. We even donate the end of the line, small offcuts to be repurposed. “
Jacinta’s last collection was inspired by the moon, her consistent cyclical nature, but also her deeply feminine, yin energy, that personifies both rest and radiance. From there, the Queen of the Night flower (which blooms once a year under full moon’s light) became the hand drawn print motif to represent this concept. “For volume seven, I further explored my personal relationship with radiance, where the practice of Kundalini yoga influenced this volume. According to Kundalini, white and gold activate our radiant body and I just felt pulled to create clothing that aligned to what my practice was asking for. Volume six and seven really leaned into my desire to allow women to radiate in their expression of self.”
The design process behind the product is fascinating. It’s one of the most cherished aspect of Jacinta’s job and you can feel it so strongly from her art. “For me, it’s quite personal and I really enjoy that solace in creating. I delve deeply into my personal practices of yoga, meditation and time in nature. I pay attention to any intuitive cues and threads of interest that evolve into concepts. I journal these down and let this process unfold. I find that fabrics naturally start to come together that reflect these concepts and work from there. For me, the tactile and textile experience is key to bringing the mood and feeling of the concept together, the shapes are then designed into that. Lately, I have been revisiting drape and work on the mannequin to flesh out ideas too. I also pattern-make and play around on the machine to let the fabric and processes inform the design process.
“When designing, everything comes back to the key brand concepts of simplicity, elegance and timelessness. We present our collections in a series of ongoing volumes and reject traditional seasons, so continuity is a key element. We create timeless wardrobes were our volumes build, so styles and shapes are happily repeated as we do not believe that they become obsolete over time. The design process comfortably leans into this space of revising past volumes and adding in elements that build into the next volume, just like a sustainable wardrobe should.”
Where can you shop the collections? Last collection Volume Six and Seven is currently being shown in Paris for wholesale which is the first time the label has shown internationally. (UPDATE?) Within Australia, they have stockist in New South Wales and New Zealand, but main focus is on make to order business through the website which delivers internationally.
Australia has a great sustainable division. The local community is supportive with great organisations like Woolmark and the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) who are very committed in supporting emerging brands that have a conscious approach to fashion. “Like most places, the scene in Australia is passionate and inclusive once you find the brands, stores, people and suppliers who are like-minded. There are amazing small businesses here that put sustainability at the forefront.”
Jacinta’s wardrobe mainly contains her own designs and lot of vintage. It is her way to experiment with colour, shapes and textures while breathing new life into an old garment. One of her favourite vintage bazars is The Antique and Design Centre in Alexandria, Sydney. https://www.mitchellroad.com.au/ She is also a big fan of flea markets one of her favourite is Rozelle market. “I also love stopping by random thrift stores, especially when on road trips, to rummage for inspiring oddities.”
She also gave us few more tips that are worth to check out if you’re looking for:
And the list is not finished yet. If you love eating out here are also some of her favourite eco-conscious restaurants:
Last but not least if you’re looking for some book inspiration, we’ve got you covered. One of Jacinta’s favourite eco books are ‘Rise and Resist’ and ‘Wardrobe Crisis’ by Clare Press.
+ Words: Kristina Kasparova
Kristina Kasparova is a creative nomad, free spirit seeking real conversations and inspiring stories. Czech made, she is currently based in London, focused on more ethical fashion and sustainable life.