Friends With Jenny

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I discovered the Friends With Jenny label when I was working as a fashion assistant in Cape Town. What I like about it was that it came to the magazines through Styling Concepts, a PR agency that most local designers didn't use at the time. I thought, mmm this girl is gutzy and clever and I also thought her clothes were cute! A few years later, she's still around and looks like she's doing well for someone who didn't actually study fashion design. If you didn't know anything about Jenny Russell, here's your chance:

1. How did FWJ come about?

I studied industrial psychology and worked in that field for a while, as well as investor relations. I found that it just wasn’t my thing and I had the dreaded Sunday Blues every week! I has always loved fashion and been interested in styling, designing and writing about it, so I resigned and decided to try it out and see what happened. I started by importing from the UK (high street fashion) and have since changed to South African labels. I wholesale and retail the Friends with Jenny range, and stock other South African brands too.

2. How do you balance your time between being a designer, editor and blogger?

It’s sometimes hard, especially at the moment as I’m building a studio space and that is requiring a lot of time – driving around, picking out finishes, having meetings with builders, etc. I try blog every day, usually first thing in the morning and then schedule certain days for FWJ – admin, driving to fabric houses and my CMT. Editing and writing is a freelance occupation, so when that work comes in I have to prioritise and get it done asap.

3. Who is the FWJ customer?

20 – 30-something confident, fashion conscious ladies who are looking for something a little different to what is available in the chain stores, and certainly not something everyone else is wearing! Unique designs and fabrics are a certainty, with interesting shapes (although always flattering), and exclusivity a definite. I try to mix the trends with classic, basic pieces.

4. What's the most memorable garment you've ever made? Your most successful?

I’m still looking for that ‘bread and butter’ piece; the piece I’ll keep making for years to come and it’ll keep flying off the shelves! Last season though I did a gorgeous summer dress (the Puff Dress), which sold like hot cakes. It was just a classic, flattering, easy to wear summer dress, with a great bust line, tied in at the waist and subtly flaring over the hips. It hit at knee length (always a good bet), but the skirt part could be made longer or shorter with ties in the inner lining, which gave the dress an amazing, asymmetrical, hitch look. Beautiful! I’ll be doing them again this year.

5. How much can people expect to pay on average for a FWJ piece?

Probably about R500 (price points are from about R200 – R900)

6. Where do you stock your clothes?

Joburgh: Just, Malva and Dell’icious Clothing.
Cape Town: Mememe and Fashion Network.
Ballito: Coast.
Paarl: Wild Orchid.
East London: Fizz, BScene and Indigo Jane.
Namibia: Anjo Clothing.

Friends With Jenny is one of the labels that will be sold at the Pulchritude Sale this Saturday!


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