Published 23rd May 2019

We caught up with Olivia Weber from the newly started JOA in Lower Clapton just off Chatsoworth Road. JOA creates upcycled jackets and puts a chunk of the profit back in to the local community.

What does JOA stand for?
It stands for the collaboration of Julie, Olivia and Anna.

Julie studied business and marketing for fashion and is originally from the south of France, localism is big in the Basque country and this is how Julie developed her expertise in business for local fashion brands. Julie loves knitting, dancing and would eat pasta everyday of her life if she could. The third member of JOA is Anna, she is our material girl! Not only does she know how to upcycle literally every textile thing on the planet, but she is also our social media and PR queen. She is on German TV at the moment for Guido’s Masterclass (project runway like), so if you are curious, go to Vox TV.

How long have you lived in Clapton?
I have lived in Clapton for almost four years now. I came to London for an internship and found more than a job; I found a home, friendship, love and my passion for environmental and social fashion.

Can you tell me about JOA?
The three of us studied the master’s course fashion futures together at London College of Fashion on the campus based in Mare Street. Exploring all kinds of sustainable and futuristic ideas together, we realised that there are not many brands out there that focus on local materials and community building in their immediate environment. Both Anna and I immediately agreed on creating jackets, simply because we love them. Being at university gave us a lot of start-up support and opportunity to work on our vision. For the design of the jackets we decided to combine our strengths in upcycling and pattern cutting and we created our own aesthetic. We wanted to make jackets that are functional and somehow adaptable while being fashionable, so the jackets are reversible, and the lining can be worn on its own, or exchanged. Then last summer I met Jean John in the Wayside Community center in Lower Clapton Road and we decided to source our materials from them while also giving them an extra financial support. Without Jean we would have never developed into the brand we are starting right now. Then a good 7 months after, this March we won a student enterprise challenge at London College of Fashion, and this gave us the start-up finance we needed to now bring our vision to life. We wanted to create our own brand, because it is so hard nowadays to find satisfying work in fashion that is creative, versatile, and creates human connection. On top of that there are just not enough sustainable brands out there that change the way we wear clothes!

What are the benefits of sustainable fashion and investing back in to your community?
In 2013 a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, since then the world knows for sure that things are going very wrong in the fashion industry. Clothes we all wear today are produced by modern slavery, shipped around the globe and sold for very little. Because the clothes are so cheap they lose value, are of bad quality and are thrown away quickly. The thrown away clothes are then shipped around the globe to find a new owner, but 80% of them are going to landfill each year. Not only is a lot of carbon pumped into the atmosphere, rivers and land are polluted but people are suffering every step of the process. This is why it is important to change the fashion industry to a sustainable one that takes care of its workers and of our planet.

Instead of producing in countries far away, we want to bring business back to London, so that we have full control over the production of our clothes. The closer you produce the better for our planet and ourselves. We can even bring creativity and fun into the normally sterile production process. On top of that is that the local economy benefits, the more small and medium sized businesses in our area the better for the growth of our local economy and the happiness of the residents. We are supporting the local charity shop and community center, because we believe that it is a vital part of any neighborhood. 

By using clothes that are about to be thrown away, JOA uses second hand material and gives it a new life. What I personally love about this is that we use clothes from our community, so the pieces we create will always look like the community we take the garments from.

Where do you sell the jackets?
To keep the cost of the jackets as low as possible, we won’t be selling them in boutiques or shops. You can find our jackets on our website, Instagram and Facebook. We will be selling on local markets and plan to have some pop-up shops in the future. If anyone is travelling to Berlin in the next month or two, they can find five of our jackets in the Gallery Malina in the Auguststrasse 82.

If you are the proud owner of clothes you love but not wear for whatever reason (your fav jeans from teenage years, your grandfathers’ coats, suits or shirts, your mum’s favorite dresses), then you might be interested in our sentimental service. We take your sentimental clothes and resew them into your own personalized JOA jacket. You can book an appointment for this bespoke service on our website under SENTIMENTAL.

When are you starting to trade at markets?
At the moment we are busy producing, but soon the first jackets will be available in our online shop. We will be doing our first market will take place Sunday 26th May - part of the E17 PreLoved Club, and our second will be on the 15th of June at the Night Market Special Edition of the Hangover Wick Market. On the 23rd of June we will be putting up a stand in the Wayside Charity shop. We are looking for going on different craft markets throughout the summer, if you want to be updated on where we are subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Instagram. Then hopefully we will start trading more regularly on the Chatsworth road Market after summer.

Now tell us which is your favorite shop on Chatsworth Road (except from Wayside)?
Oh such a difficult question… Leaving out all the amazing food options, I think I am settling for The Castle Cinema, great films, great atmosphere! But my favorite shop is probably The Hackney Draper, I have been buying a lot of last-minute presents, cards and zero waste living supplies there.

What else do you like about your neighborhood?
What I love about Clapton is the choice of restaurants! When it comes to food, I think we are living in the best area in London, so many delicious meals and sharing it with such a great diversity of people. I love the entrepreneurial spirit here. Each place has its own authentic charm. It is just incredible to live so close to the Marshes and the canal, because I grew up in a very small town in the green, I really cherish that a lot.

Social media: @joa.fashionmadelocal