Jess Lawrence (@jessylaw) has reached a place that many fashion-orientated young people can only dream of: influencer, businesswoman, model and style icon – she is also famously known for her infinite curated collection of sneakers. Jess graduated from university with a BA in English Language and Literature. From there she went to Expedia where she first worked officially with, and fostered her talents in social media – but her ambition, hunger and passion for a career in the fashion industry was not satisfied. She moved to a position at U-Magazine, went from success to success in different aspects of her career, and then secured her current position as the social media manager of Vogue Business. Eyestylist met with Jess – albeit virtually – and her creative and warm personality easily radiated through the screen, as did her immaculate unique sense of fashion.
What have been your biggest personal and professional challenges throughout the pandemic? Do you think the past year has had an impact on the fashion industry as a whole? If so, what impact? From a work perspective and a personal perspective, I’m a really in-person kind of person. I really respond to the environment I’m in; energy, movement and things like that are so important – especially in an industry like fashion, that is so vibrant in nature. I think it’s difficult for us to have such an integral part of our professional atmosphere taken away; fashion week, events, presentations, photoshoots – they’re all the reasons we want to get into fashion, most of our inspiration is taken from real people doing real things – when that’s gone, what are we left with? Everything is online, you have to see the world through a screen; the environment created is one that doesn’t really promote inspiration. However, although there has been a significantly negative impact, the positive progression regarding sustainability within the industry is immeasurable. In terms of technology capabilities like VR and AR which have really evolved, and also I think we have learned what works and what doesn’t – we have seen that though it is possible to make fashion week virtual, attendance is really low and there just isn’t an appetite for it – people crave the real time, lived experience and are eager to get back to that. One thing I am sure of is that when we do come back into the real world, we’ll take a lot of these learnings from this time with us, and in applying them we will create a better industry as a whole.
The ‘sustainability’ buzz words are everywhere at the moment – without making this a leading question – I personally do try and be as sustainable as I can be and would consider myself pretty passionate about sustainability, but, in the nature of the industry we both work in – that can be hard. What does sustainability mean to you? What do you do if anything in order to “consume consciously” / be sustainable? I think everyone is at home, plugged in and really focused on what is going on outside their windows; now more than ever people are wanting to improve the world we live in, so that when we can go back out there it’s ready to greet us with open arms. Highlighting the problems and inconsistencies within the industry regarding sustainability is necessary and I welcome it – it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, designers, manufacturers and consumers are taking it into account more than ever before. One of the main things I have done myself to ‘consume consciously’ is eliminating any / all fast-fashion from my purchasing totally. I think that really happened when I joined Vogue Business – it’s like a switch flipped; once you know how bad it is, you can’t really go back to it. The biggest obstacle we face in this area is how to reduce the price-point of sustainably made clothing; we need to make it more widely accessible to more people – apps like Depop and eBay are an amazing resource for this reason, but if we want sustainable fashion to replace fast-fashion, it needs to be able to compete with it at that price point where younger consumers can engage with it. I can see many exciting changes happening in the next months and years to come.
It’s no secret that we admire your style and wardrobe! Your extensive collection of sunglasses is something we’d love to know about; what is your favourite pair of sunglasses? Is there any standout label that you look forward to wearing in 2021? Good question – I think my favourite pair would be my brown ombre-tinted Chanel visors; they’ve got the interlocking C’s on the side, they kind of make me feel like Aaliyah and they’re what I grew up looking at and seeing so it was nice to re-engage with them as an adult again. I’ve also got a really nice pair of vintage Ralph Lauren visors – they’re black and silver, and a pair of the massive square Gucci ones – I love them too they’re really cool. When I purchase any item of clothing, I want to know it will be in my wardrobe for a long time, so a frame being ‘timeless’ is a big factor to me – sunglasses are essential throughout the year, so investing in a good pair of high-quality glasses is key. Recently I’ve really been trying to put my money into black owned brands as well – so that is also a major consideration for me.
From what I can see our generation seem to go all or nothing in regard to accessorising; less is more minimalism to layered chains or playful strings of coloured beads – what accessories trend is catching your eye right now? For me I suppose – I generally like to keep my jewellery quite neutral. That being said, I have just bought a Vivienne Westwood single string pearl necklace – it’s something I never really thought I would buy, but that is a trend that has caught my eye this season that I really didn’t expect… I do love Vivienne Westwood too – so I couldn’t say no.
An exclusive interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton for Eyestylist.com.