Following their incredible runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in May, JAM the Label reflects on the show, their jacket redesigns, and their newly-released collab with Digby Webster. Co-founder Emma Clegg recently took time out of her busy schedule to talk to our EIC Maria about JAM’s design process and the label’s next steps, keeping us in the loop with this amazing Aussie brand!
If you missed our previous Q&A with JAM, here’s a rundown of what they’re about:
JAM was founded by two occupational therapists, Emma Clegg and Molly Rogers, who saw the gap in the market for adaptive clothes – that is, clothes that make it easier for people with disabilities to wear. These clothes help the disabled community have autonomy when getting dressed, so each garment is designed with a deep understanding of diverse dressing needs.
Particularly for young adults like Jack and Maddie, who JAM is named after […] that’s the age where it’s so important what you wear, and how you present yourself, and that you have choice over what is in your wardrobe and what you’re choosing to wear each day – and that was just completely stripped from them.
In our interview, Emma spoke to us about the importance of collaborating with people ‘from the community who have that lived experience’. That’s why JAM starts by asking the community what they need from their clothes that mainstream brands don’t provide. For example, if someone reports that they have difficulty in using buttons, JAM brainstorms a solution – which is how they came up with the magnetic closures on their shirts. They then go through the prototyping and sampling process to really refine how a garment should work.
With their most recent redesign of their jackets, JAM also revealed an exciting collaboration with artist Digby Webster, whose vibrant art adorns one of the new releases. Webster is an artist in the disabled community with a career spanning ten years and, with his colourful art style, JAM thought his work would be perfect to indicate where the label is headed – to brighter, personality-driven clothes beyond the basics.
To help with this goal, JAM has received a Creative Victoria grant that allows them to hire their first fashion designer, Rachel Shugg. As a recent graduate from fashion school, she’s creating JAM’s first capsule collection with the hope to release it early next year. Shugg is a disabled designer with a passion for adaptive design and advocates an ‘empathy-driven approach’ for fashion.
The change needs to happen at every stage. It needs to be behind the camera, in the board meetings, in the designer's concept sketches, in workers’ wages. It needs to happen in our education as well… I only graduated from my honors last year, and I wasn't taught anything about it.
Looking ahead, JAM wants to employ more people with disabilities in key roles to make sure they’re supporting the community the best they can. Their upcoming trans-seasonal collection goes beyond the essentials range to really address the gap in the market for stylish adaptive clothes, but importantly, they’re pieces anyone can wear. JAM operates from a principle of universal design, bringing adaptive clothes – and disabled consumers – into the mainstream fashion industry.
JAM The Label is a fantastic company that we at Casper adore, and we’re so thrilled to have been able to talk with Emma about their plans for the future! If you want to support JAM and get some amazing clothes at the same time, visit their website – don’t forget to check out their vibrant Digby jacket!