Jordan Arthur Smith hasn't been doing fashion for too long, but he's already in a league of his own. The Ohio native’s first collection of futuristic yet natural silhouettes and thoughtful craftsmanship set him apart from his peers. There are no other young designers out there making clothes as ethereal.
Smith’s debut collection demonstrated that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Specifically, his use of bacteria dyeing and natural materials immediately cemented his place in the ranks of boundary-pushing designers. The fact that he made every single garment himself only made it that much clearer. It's like the gear was built for wearing on a different planet.
The 23-year-old takes a nonconformist approach to design. He drapes his clothes on a plaster mannequin that barely resembles the human form. The mood board part comes afterward. In terms of inspiration, Smith’s latest offering eschewed conventional influence and took cues from the struggles he endured while making his aforementioned debut collection.
Most designers don't want to make their errors public. Instead, Smith embraces them.
His ethereal tailoring, unique dyeing process, and attention to detail is rarely seen in designers his age. Smith oversees everything himself. With only two other people helping out, Smith basically runs the entire company single-handedly, designing, sewing, photographing, and editing the garments himself.
What was your creative process and inspiration for this collection?
I don't really necessarily take inspiration, at least in a traditional way. I'm inspired by historical moments. So like a specific garment, or a movement, or an emotion. It goes back and forth. I'm more of a process-driven designer.
You mentioned that this collection is influenced by errors in your first collection, right?
I was inspired by the production process on the first collection. So my original thoughts influenced this collection. It was interesting because a lot of them had to do with errors in production. Specifically with complicated garments that have organic seam work, doing curves is a very complicated process to get everything to lay very smooth. So there's a lot more of the organic seam work, bubbling, and drapery in this collection.
What is your favorite piece?
My favorite piece from the collection is our leather jacket. The model for it is based on a sculpture actually.
I like to start with duct tape and tin foil. From there it's translated into plaster, and then it's patterned off. For the jacket, we used white hide-on leather. I hand-dyed all of the individual pieces black on one side, so that's how you get the white hair poking through when you reverse it.
You don't really use any synthetics in your work, correct?
No. Everything down to the thread is natural materials. I took some customer feedback into the new designs as well. A lot of people wanted elastic waistbands. I'm like, “I'm never using elastic in any of my products.” So I didn’t think it was possible, but I was able to source an organic cotton natural rubber elastic alternative. So all our waistbands are made with that.
Your dyeing process had people raving. Any new experiments or dyes we can expect from this collection?
The green is a new color that I'm using. It's a natural dye as well, but this one though is made from metals, like copper oxide.
I feel like organic dye processes are one of your signatures. Everything is very inspired by nature. A lot of brands say that “they're inspired by nature,” but not to the level that yours is.
I want the clothing to transcend the human form and connect nature. It's such an integral part of the process. But it's about connecting people back to nature in a weird way.
Jordan Arthur Smith’s “Otherness” collection launches November 15 on his website.