Very few designers are capable of delivering ready to wear pieces with couture elements at affordable prices. Even fewer plus sized designers are edgy enough to have their names mentioned alongside more recognized straight sized designers but Jasmine of JIBRI sews to the beat of her own drum. Drawing inspiration from a number of things, she does not limit herself by creating looks that resemble the current trends, instead she thinks outside of the box every season by introducing a collection that constantly amazes her supporters.
In this article Jasmine Elder talks about the birth of JIBRI, the inspiration behind her spring collection and what it means to be a plus size clothing designer.
Tell me about JIBRI…..what gave you the idea to start your own clothing line?
I’ve been designing and making clothes since I was a young girl, but decided to actually start a line about 4 years ago when I realized that the type of clothes I wanted weren’t availabe off the rack. I’d made my own clothes for so long, I really never shopped for clothes, only accessories. When I started working full time, I didn’t have time to make everything. When I went shopping I was disappointed big time. After a few years of that, I decided to start my line.
So instead of complaining about the lack of clothing, you took action. I like that. Did you go to school for design?
Very briefly. I actually studied Economics. When I went to graduate school I snuck into the back of my first and only “offical” design course. One semester in which we made a dress wth 4,000 pieces. That was the end of that.
Wow, so you don’t have any formal training? Did you get lessons from a family member or are you just a natural talent?
No..no formal training. I was actually taught by my high school friend and mentor…. Jibri Mann. He was a designer in Atlanta in the 90’s. He used to make things for one of my friends. I asked him to make me a piece or two. We became friends and he taught me.
So he was the inspiration for the name of the line?
He was an awesome designer…he focused on shape and fit. When I started designing, I was more into costume. I eventually merged the two. Yes, I always said I’d name my first child after him and JIBRI is my child.
When you say costume designing the first thing that comes to mind is Halloween. Is that what you meant or more couture pieces? How did you go from costume designing to designing plus size clothing?
I was infatuated with Club Kids, long before I ever knew I’d design a plus line. All throughout high school and much of college I wore extreme costumes EVERYDAY. Dresses made from welded pennies, denim ball gowns, 7 inch platforms, glitter lashes, pink, purple and white hair. Nothing unusual for today but I was channeling Lady Gaga 15 years ago in Decatur Ga, so you know I stood out quite a bit. I LOVE costume but not necessarily halloween type stuff but really original & outlandish looks, like Street Couture. As I matured, so did my style. I’ve always loved vintage style. As a matter of fact many of my costumes were vintage inspired. When I decided to do a wearable line, it was also heavily influenced by vintage fashion.
It’s all of me. I am a very theatrical person. I love glamour. I love chracters. I love art…music…exotic any and everything. That’s a part of me through and through. JIBRI designs get all of those elements.
Being an expressive person, is it difficult to appeal to those who are trendy and stay true to yourself?
Not really. I love that everyone is allowed to have their own personal style. None of us have to look alike. I never design according to trends or “what’s hot”. I create from within. Sometimes I get lucky and it falls in trend but many times I make things that are far from trend or not trendy “yet”. My line has pieces that may appeal to the glamorous and sophisticated woman in ANY woman. It’s more of a “boutique” line as I don’t think many women could wear it everyday (not even me) as life requires women to take off our heel from time to time. I think it’s that dress in the closet that makes you smile every time you see it though. Pieces like that can’t always be trendy.
Has the sudden interest in plus size fashion increased your business and how do you feel about that?
I don’t know if the “interest” has boosted business as much as all the info being spread by the likes of people like you and blogs etc. I’m more visible because plus sized women discuss it more. Mainstream interest isn’t as big a factor, I dont think. I think more women are “looking” for new designers now.
One designer once told me that plus size women want more options but aren’t willing to pay. Do you think there is any truth to that?
I think they aren’t used to paying. Options have been fairly similar quality for years. Never what straight sized women had access to. They could get a cheap pant at Dots, a mid priced pant from French Connection or a high end slack from Armani. We could get a pant from Ashley Stewart or LaneBryant. Now we have access to more but we’re so used to only paying for one level of quality. That will change as we become more familiar with the different lines and the quality and value of each.
So tell me about your Spring 2010 collection. What were some of your inspirations for that?
Spring 2010 was a really fun line to create. I wanted to do pieces that screamed “I LOVE BEING ALIVE” but maintain my design aesthetic. I combined rich colors with classic cuts to tell that story my way.
Will you be releasing anything for Summer 2010? If so, will those dresses stay within the theme for Spring or be slightly different?
I plan to release a few new pieces for Summer which is kind of uncustomary for me but I have a few dresses left that I haven’t shown yet. A little different, a little lighter, something vacation worthy.
Wow! It sounds exciting. What plans do have for the summer?
My summer schedule isn’t in stone just yet. I’m doing quite a few things this Spring which are listed under my event tab on my website. I’m still undecided on Full Figured Fashion Week™. But I’ll be sure to update my event page as I add new events.
Do you do any trunk shows across the country?
I do…I’ll actually be in Little Rock Arkasas on April 10-11 for Little Rock Full Figured Fashion Week and Trunk Show. I’ll be in Dallas, TX for a boutique trunk show on April 15.
You are one busy woman. Thank you for sharing yourself with me and the readers of DailyVenusDiva.com.