Zoë Jordan spent her childhood travelling the world — from New York, Hong Kong, Dublin, and Andalusia. After falling in love with architecture, and originally beginning her career in trading, she left the fast-paced life on the trade floor to work from her kitchen table — creating her eponymous brand - Zoë Jordan. Even without any formal training, Zoë’s collections are both tactile and lyrical — displaying an authentic understanding of balance, texture, and essential style.
There is a strange sense of calm to Zoë Jordan. We catch her right before embarking on an alpine adventure, her team bustling around in her beautiful studio space in the heart of Chelsea. Amidst the organised chaos, Zoë remains a grounding presence for everyone around her. She is a natural in front of the camera — exuding the same relaxed grace that has been a consistent throughout her collections and her timeless capsule collections.
You were born in Dublin - and pretty much spent your childhood all over the world! Tell us a little bit about yourself and where your interest in fashion came from?
Fashion has always been a passion of mine growing up; I studied design at school, went through to architecture. I always had a kind of mathematical mind as well — so I ended up trading. It was very fast-paced and demanding; I learned a lot about economics, politics, everything you needed to know in order to trade.
There wasn't necessarily one thing that drove me into fashion; it was something that I had always wanted to do. I started right from the bottom, putting together a set of samples based on the idea of a capsule wardrobe: the perfect jumper, the perfect silk top. I was driven to design a collection that I wanted to wear, and felt that was missing in the market place. I want to create a relaxed and cool tomboyish aesthetic that also makes me feel attractive, confident, and ready to take on the world!
You started your eponymous label in 2007 “working from your kitchen table”. What were these early days like? What was it like starting out as a young designer in London? How do you go from being a bond trader to a fashion designer?
It was a big and scary transition, yet one I was very ready for. The move came at a time when I was pretty burnt out from the city life. However, going from a big, well paid job, to a kitchen table start-up had its challenges. I wasn’t used to lugging the boxes, the traipsing around town with samples, and the never ending queues at the post office. It could also be a little lonely compared to the full-on banter heavy life on a trading floor. However, there is obviously a great freedom with being in charge of your own time and feeling the satisfaction of building something yourself.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Not having had the traditional training background in design was challenging, especially at the beginning of my fashion career. However, on reflection I feel perhaps that I didn’t have the same inhibitions about my collections as other designers. I can come at the process from a more objective stand point rather than being weighed down by the academia.
You studied product design and architecture at the University of Newcastle. How does your love for architecture inform your approach to designing your collections?
I’m drawn to a clean, structured, and functional design, which is something I developed through my love of architecture.
Zoë Jordan knitwear is truly one of a kind and last year you decided to launch a season-less capsule collection. What inspired you to make this decision?
For both my customers and myself, the seasons didn’t feel relevant any more. The way we shop now and the way we travel all year round, means there is a constant demand for knitwear. The knitwear market needed a contemporary shake up, and KNITLAB is all about classic shapes in luxurious yarns, given a modern edge.
Back in 2011, you relaunched Zoë Jordan - followed by receiving several nominations from the Vogue Fashion Fund and the British Fashion Council. How has your brand changed after the relaunch?
With my name above the door, I think it’s easier to focus on exactly what feels true to my style.
Tell us about your AW17 Collection. The inspiration behind it and if you have a favourite piece?
My AW17 collection takes a look at spirited 90s heroes such as Drew Barrymore, with her candy pink hair, and welcomes a fresh feminine take on grunge. The look is a little rawer than in previous seasons, stripped back, distressed, diffused, bleached, and brimming with naïve teen spirit. Styles are lovingly deconstructed, like the Wallace & Kendrick, a key knit for the season. We are embracing the pick ‘n’ mix approach for the season, our focus is on depth of palette & particularly mélanges and marls. Tie dye, two-tone plating, mesh, and fringing lend a very tactile quality and can be seen to have a dramatic effect on the popular High Hawking.
The colour palette is sweet and fresh, particularly for knitwear and a tonal base grounds the pieces. Expect sorbet colours like apricot, confetti, lettuce, and flamingo to sit alongside ash, and stone, with black and white mélanges. As with all of my collections, the seasonal ready-to-wear line is complimented by the season-less core KNITLAB collection.
What is next for Zoë Jordan? Any special projects or collaborations we can look forward to?
For a couple of seasons now, we have been moving away from traditional fashion week shows to concepts that feel more relevant to the brand. This month we are taking some brand ambassadors on an alpine adventure. A world where fashion, travel, and sport meets.
Finally, how do you think creators like yourself are changing the London Fashion scene?
I think the key is to be relevant and to work in partnership with your stockists, listening to your customer whilst trying to stay a step ahead design wise. London allows you to be bespoke and individual, it’s important to carve your own path.
Portraits by Curtis Gibson
Words by Hannah Tan