Hi. I’m Iviva, one of Jhane’s designers. I’ve been working with Jhane for the past couple of years, and having her as a mentor has made a huge impact on me.
When I turned 30, I did something that was scary for me. Despite having a successful career in non-profit management, I felt unfulfilled, and decided to go back to school to study textile design in FIT’s one-year AAS program.
When I started at FIT, I knew I loved fabric, but I did not really know what a textile designer does. I soon fell in love with the traditional hand-painting techniques for print design, and even more importantly with weaving. When I graduated, I hoped to find a job that would allow me to continue doing what I loved. My professors warned me that a weaving or hand painting job would be hard to find, as most textile design is done on the computer. After six months of interviews, I finally found a match—I began working at Jhane Barnes Menswear.
Going into work was like a dream come true: Jhane had her own looms, and an endless supply of yarns. Even better, for my first six months, my main responsibility was to weave sample swatches for our Hong Kong mill. I learned how to operate a 32-harness dobby loom and use Weavemaker software. I fell in love with weaving all over again from a new perspective. Finally, I got to experience the full process of making a garment from a designer’s initial concept, to a small handloom, to sample fabric, and a sample shirt.
How we design and what we make at Jhane Barnes has changed since my initiation into weaving. Jhane believes in life-long learning, and passes this value onto her staff members, sharing information and resources, and encouraging us to do the same. Our design process is collaborative and ever-evolving, just like our designs. One person may have an initial concept, and another will offer feedback and advice on tweaking the color, or adjusting the layout. We also constantly share new tricks for using Photoshop and Illustrator to get the results we need.
In addition to teaching herself about weaving and becoming an expert (Jhane bought her first loom in 1978!), Jhane has embraced computers and technology. She is ahead of the curve in incorporating these tools into her design process. In Fall 2009, Jhane will launch Jhane Barnes Digital, a line of garments with engineered digital prints. In an engineered print, each aspect of the fabric pattern coincides with a specific part of the garment. We use numerous software programs to create these designs, and are always discovering new plug-ins and ways to use them. Creating engineered digital prints has been extremely challenging. The placement of each motif and every detail is critical! The result are garments with incredibly rich color that look like nothing else in the market. Once again, through a desire to move beyond the ordinary, Jhane is redefining fashion, and learning and sharing new skills along the way.