Newbie to the fashion-scene, 22:22 makes oversized clothes feminine in a way that so many brands just can’t get quite right. See-through fabrics are the right level of tasteful: you’re by no means exposed but it’s nowhere near the frump and pompous of the opposite end of the tasteful scale either. We spoke to designer Jessica Pike about how Brexit will affect small fashion brands, the similarities between Paris and Leeds (yes, there are some) and how women collectively decided to start dressing for ourselves and not for the gaze.
Where did the name 22:22 come from?
It’s as simple as I have seen the time 22:22 every night since about 2007. However, how often I saw it led me to research it: 22 in numerology means “the master builder” and is often linked with creativity. Obviously, it was fate.
You started the brand out of the frustration of not being able to find a paid job in London. What are the levels of competition like for Fashion graduates?
I read once that there are 8000 fashion graduates a YEAR in the UK! It’s basically impossible to be paid for your skills.
Accepting unpaid work is a strange cycle – you want experience but you’re then adding to the stigma that this treatment is ok and showing brands that people will still accept work regardless. Do you think this could change in the industry any time soon?
I think more laws are slowly being introduced. For example, I don’t think UK high-brow brands now allow graduates to intern for more than 3 weeks – although others, of course, do. Yes, my time interning was incredible and I learnt all that I could, but at the same it can be incredibly demoralising. You’re the most tired you’ve ever been because you’re also working full-time in a bar, etc. You spend a lot of time asking yourself whether you’re not being paid because you’re just not good enough to be. That being said, I can’t see the culture changing anytime soon – it’s a rite of passage and, with that many graduates a year all being sold the dream of working in high-fashion, if one girl won’t do it, another one will.
I read an article about how the impracticality of living in London, cost and space-wise, is leading to more diverse cultural hubs forming in cities around the UK. You were born, raised and studied in Leeds – is that the case there?
I think there’s definitely a burgeoning culture in Leeds. I’d like to think Leeds College of Art –where I studied– and its alumni is responsible for a lot of it! But I know over the past few years independent studios such as Duke Studios has really taken off. The space is great and of course, it’s cheaper than London. I’d love to see Leeds’ artistic hub become even bigger.
You’re now based in Paris. Although there are a lot of obvious differences, have you spotted any peculiar similarities between the French capital and Leeds?
(Laughs) Incredibly, there are many similarities between the people in each. Both the Parisians and the Yorkshire-folk have a strong sense of identity and are very stuck in their ways!
How do you think the Brexit vote will impact designers like yourself who are starting out?
Being a small business I can admit to being anxious about shipping, importing and exporting fees changing. I’d like to be able to offer my customers perpetual free postage. As a small business, it’s things like this I’d rely on to forge relationships with women buying clothes from 22:22 – I hope this doesn’t change!
Wearability, comfort and ease of movement are more prevalent now than they have been in a long time in women’s fashion. With these being elements of your collection, when do you think we collectively decided that enough is enough, with sky-high stilettos and body-con everything?
I think it’s been since we have embraced “feminism.” It used to be an ugly word that even women wouldn’t use. For example, I once heard my female friend say, “it’s not like I’m a feminist, or anything…” She’s since changed her tune, and it’s this upsurge of awareness of equality that I think has influenced other women to stop being shy about interpreting their bodies and femininity differently – to start dressing for themselves and not the gaze.
There are a lot of sheer fabrics but there’s still this level of refinery that’s modern and desirable. How do you go about achieving this?
That would be down to the cut of the clothes. There’s lots of straight lines in Collection No. 1, but it still shows off the body and its curves: romantic and sensual, but straight and over-sized. I intended it to be the perfect juxtaposition, and I hope that it is.
Tell us about the kind of woman you envision wearing 22:22.
She’s intelligent, feminine, and strong. Her outlook is both romantic and pragmatic. She dresses up for herself, not others.
The brand’s Instagram bio contains a sentence a lot of us can relate to and seek a solution for: “RTW clothes for picky girls” – how did this motto of sorts come to mind?
It came from being one of those girls. I’m picky about finding an alternative to the high-street: somewhere I can spend a little more in order to find staple, intimate clothing. Intimate in the sense that I have a relationship with the brand I’m buying from. Yes, I can describe this woman as being modern and discerning, which I have done on my website, but I want there to be an informality to 22:22, too. I want people to know that I am aware of being pretentious by using certain jargon – 22:22 is for the real modern woman!