On a sunny Thursday, we enter A Child of the Jago’s light filled studio space in Angel. Each corner of this gorgeous space breathes a unique kind of authenticity. A faded etching of a monkey in a Victorian knee-bone suit hangs in the office, where an anti-fracking poster decorates the entrance. Outside, a sturdy hardwood table is surrounded by brightly coloured hats in varying shapes and sizes; and an array of Joe Corre’s latest creations for A Child of the Jago.
Joe himself lends an air of integrity — a combination of worldly experience and effortless cool. Inspired by Arthur Morrison’s novel “A Child of the Jago," set just a stone’s throw away from his East-end boutique; Joe set off to create a label that disrupts the fast fashion cycle, using the luxury fashion industry’s excess fabrics. As it was in the Jago, the street is our stage; and Joe Corre takes this stage with an anti-brand that stands apart from the rest.
Not only is Joe committed to reducing the insurmountable waste of the fashion industry, he does so with such bravado that it is easy to see why A Child of the Jago is in such high demand. Championing small runs and high quality locally made garments, A Child of the Jago echoes Vivienne Westwood’s call to “buy less, choose well, and make it last” and is exactly the anti-brand we need today.
Tell us about yourself and your background. What inspired to you create A Child of the Jago?
When I first started A Child of the Jago, I was still involved with Agent Provocateur. Agent Provocateur was a brand I started with one shop in Soho, that over the years grew to a size where it became increasingly difficult to be creative. So, I set A Child of the Jago to be purposefully small and specialist.
What is the inspiration behind your brand name?
The name was based on the story of a boy called Dickie Perrot. He was the main character from Arthur Morrison’s book, A Child of the Jago, about the Jago slum which was a scandal in the Victorian times. The Jago slum existed a stone’s throw away from our East End shop, around where Arnold Circus is today. The story has resonance because Dickie Perrot grew up to realise there are only two ways to escape the poverty of the Jago; one was in a wooden box and the other was to dress your way out of it.
A Child of the Jago has championed small runs of high quality UK made clothes since 2008. In what other ways does your brand minimise its carbon footprint?
We buy the best quality fabrics that luxury brands leave behind from the built-in obsolescence of the fashion industry. We use what’s left on the shelf. Because we buy our cloth in this way, we can afford to manufacture in the UK and retain a reasonable retail price. It also dictates that the volumes we make are dependent on the quantity of cloth that we find, which means that everything we do is in limited edition. By working in this way and manufacturing locally, we minimise our products’ travel miles and invest in the local economy. We also retain and reuse our packaging and garment care consumables as much as possible. Finally, all our locations use green energy from Ecotricity.
A Child of the Jago’s philosophy is all about being an “anti-brand” to fast fashion. In what ways does your brand contribute to disrupting the fast fashion cycle?
We disrupt it naturally because we offer a real alternative to fast-fashion. We are not here to help you fit in; we’re here to help you stand out. We don’t follow trends nor seasons in the way that the traditional fashion cycle works. Our products will stand the test of time, not get thrown into landfill. We find that our customers take their time to choose and buy our products, which makes for a better choice rather than getting the instant gratification of fast fashion consumerism. It follows Vivienne’s mantra of “buy less, choose well, make it last”
Talk us through your Jack Sheppard collection. What makes this range different from A Child of the Jago?
Jack Sheppard is a sub-brand that uses traditional British fabrics. It was set-up so that we could wholesale the Jago style, because the limitations created by a limited amount of fabric meant that Jago was not suitable for wholesale.
However, due to the deterioration of independent retail and the migration of customers to e-commerce, we have decided not to pursue the wholesale model altogether. At the moment, Jack Sheppard is more like the Jago’s younger brother; and sometimes we decide to use that label simply because it suits the particular garment better.
Today, sustainability is more important than ever, with brands becoming more and more concerned about their carbon footprint. What role does the fashion industry play in the effort to minimise our environmental impact as a species?
To me, the fashion industry does have the potential to lead people towards sustainable practices and thinking. Sadly, up until now it’s been dreadfully slow at taking these issues as seriously as they should be taken. Rampant fashion consumerism fundamentally opposes sustainability. The never-ending search for the exploitation of cheap labour, polluting fabric production, and depletion of natural resources is a real problem.
As consumers, how can we make a difference in protecting the future of our planet?
We can choose how we inform ourselves, how we vote, what we eat, what we buy and discard, where we buy our energy from, and how we take responsibility for the plastic we use. We really have to think about the effects that our decisions will have on our habitat and on future generations.