Director Jenna is featured in this month's Hunger Magazine - thank you to the amazing team, and to Lily for these lovely words.
"This Is the Uniform, one of London's most hotly-tipped new young womenswear labels, did not have the most traditional of beginnings. In 2013, its founder Jenna Young was working as a stylist when some pieces she had whipped up herself for a shoot - including a pair of sheer jogging bottoms - caught the eyes of British Vogue editor, Francesca Burns. They were featured in Teen Vogue and just like that, a brand was born. It's a good story, one that wouldn't have been unusual in the 80s and 90s when the fashion industry conducted itself in a more haphazard, generous manner, but today is nothing short of a miracle.
Fast forward to SS16, and This Is The Uniform is a fully-fledged label, showing with Fashion East (and MADE in NY next season) and coveted by editors and buyers alike. And while Jenna may not have studied fashion - she took fine art at Goldsmiths - nor anticipated starting a brand so soon, a career in fashion was always on the cards. "My mother teaches fashion and costume design, and I have been sewing since I was four years old," she tells us. "It's something I always wanted to do."
The strength of Jenna's work lies in her engaging approach. A conceptual brand, This Is The Uniform explores the systems and rules of dress, subjectively investigating fashion itself, as well as the way in which we interact with it in our everyday lives. She is concerned with social tribes, stereotypes, perception and context. "I'm looking at these social groupings and situations, how we use fashion to belong to one group or segregate ourselves from another. I'm really into playing with the idea of status." Clothing's ability to assign social identification and unite or divide individuals was a huge source of inspiration for SS16. "It was all in the details, the idea of how important the tiny things were when you were younger... that idea of almost becoming your uniform. Like rolling up your trackies to a certain length but no longer. Get it wrong and you were out."
Indeed, tracksuits play a huge role in the label's DNA. "The most interesting thing for me is the way in which the tracksuit can be re-appropriated, with elements added or taken away so that new meanings are created," she explains. "Much like the denim jacket and the little black dress, the tracksuit already has an existing narrative surrounding it. I think it's really fun to play with this narrative, fuck it up a little bit."
This idea of play is integral to Jenna's work evident in the brand's name. "It's basically blatantly telling people, 'this is the uniform', and this is what you should be wearing'. It's a bit tongue in cheek and satirical, but that's our approach. A lot of fashion can take itself way too seriously, but when it's fun and experimental it's a great industry to be in."