The new normal that came with the Covid-19 pandemic which is termed the digital shift has affected every sphere of life including fashion. So, when Jessica James’s 3D illustrations hit the internet, the Nigerian internet space went abuzz.
The Guardian Life sits with the fashion illustrator, freelance designer and 3D artist to talk about clothes, models and winning.
What inspired you to venture into fashion?
I also say my Mum inspired me, watching her dress up while growing up was always the highlight of my day, plus I was always eager to wear her stuff. My inspiration for fashion comes from different sources and over the years I have discovered that my affinity to fashion is as natural as me breathing. I tried to run away from it but something always brings me back to it.
Would you say that the industry has been kind to you?
Well, I’ll say yes, the industry has been kind to me. I’m not neglecting the struggles or bad experiences, but that’s also life.
The fashion industry just like other industries has its shortcomings. As you know, humans make up these industries and every one is unique in the way they handle things. But my start was a really good one with an internship that turned into a full-time position at “April by Kunbi”. I have worked with other brands and I still currently work with a lot of fashion brands and one thing I can say that works for me is that always state from the beginning what you can deliver and stick to it. It’s easy to be wrapped up with highs of working with brands you look up to and forget to create boundaries and work agreements, and with that comes being taken advantage of or being underpaid or not paid at all.
All of this can be avoided if you create a professional working agreement between the two parties before any provision of services.
What made you apply your 3D image rendering to fashion?
My first exposure to anything 3D was fashion-based, so it only made complete sense since I was in fashion as well to apply it to fashion. And I needed to show my new collection at the time, so that provided a solution for me.
I currently apply 3D to fashion because it ties in with the services I currently offer to clients as well.
What are your thoughts on virtual clothes? A fashion do or don’t?
A fashion do! There are so many advantages of virtual clothing and one of such is sustainability and waste reduction. Fashion is a fast-paced industry where we are always looking for the next best thing, in doing this we are causing harm to our environment, so if there’s anything to reduce all of that I’m here for it!
I’d also like to state that apart from it being a sustainable way of showing clothes, it’s also cost-effective.
I’ll use the Jessica James RTW line as an example. I released my first 3D collection with that line and this was really cost-effective for me because it helped me introduce products to the market without having a physical sample which would have cost me money. Also, I got a feel for what designs people like just by the responses I got so that informed the quantity I produced per design.
Although people are still resistant to it in this part of the world as we are so used to seeing a physical product before a purchase is made, I’m happy that a lot of people are gradually accepting that and I’m spending less and reducing waste.
The first person to do a 3D virtual fashion show was Anifa Muvuemba, an African. How do you feel about that?
She lit a fire in me to be honest. I saw the possibilities for the first time and that came from how she applied it to her brand. At the time, it was thinking about releasing my first RTW line and with not a lot of funds and the whole world on lockdown, it looked like the most effective, and easy thing to do and it was!
What she created was a solution for a problem she had which turned into the most innovative thing I had seen in 2020.
To be honest, when I did my research, a handful of people have been doing the 3D thing before Anifa but it was not widely known. I also feel like she had the perfect timing, in the middle of a lockdown, people were becoming restless and the future of fashion was looking so bleak with runway shows being cancelled in all the major cities. It was pure genius if you ask me!
Do you have any upcoming events?
Yes I do, currently working on a fashion collection for my ready to wear line. I am getting ready for the release of my online classes in the first quarter of the year as well. Also, I am working on a master class as well, trying to plan around that. And some 3D projects with some brands. I am looking forward to more collaborations this year with more brands.