40 YEARS OF AWARD-WINNING DESIGN:
AFTER 35 MAJOR AWARDS, jSD ARE STILL THE INDUSTRY’S SUCCESSFUL MISFITS + INNOVATORS + CHAMPIONS OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Susanne Malim founded Jermyn Street Design in 1981. Thanks to her career as a top model, which included working all around the world with high-profile brands for Formula 1, Susanne brought to this new venture some very practical insights into dressing “on brand” plus an enviable eighties Rolodex of brand owners.
Not surprisingly, jSD’s early contracts included promotional clothing for both motor and luxury brands such as Texaco, Cutty Sark, Christian Dior and Lancôme. Designs for Max Factor, Pepsi and Johnnie Walker soon followed as well as uniforms for QE2 and British Airways retail stores. Classic brands like Revlon, YSL, Segaworld, Chanel, Virgin Vie, Orange, The London Clinic, Gucci, Holiday Inn and Guerlain all had uniforms designed by jSD over the next two decades – to which jSD has added further iconic brands such as Eurostar, World Duty Free, GWR, Jet2, Liverpool FC, Ocado, Dyson and additional IHG hotels.
“After years of modelling I understood in a very real and personal way the visual language of representing different brands differently. But I also understood what it was like to work in clothes that frankly weren’t designed for work – or even designed for real human body shapes! This drove my ambition to create uniforms, corporate clothing and other workwear going far beyond fashion alone to promote not just brands but the well-being of individual wearers.” Susanne Malim, jSD Founder
In many ways, the fashion industry is just starting to catch up with the core belief behind Susanne’s maverick ambition and jSD’s continuing commitment to wearer-driven design: no-one is uniform.
Another early and lasting influence on jSD’s design approach was Susanne’s collaboration with Anita Roddick. In 1994 jSD developed the first eco-friendly uniforms for all UK and US Body Shops. “This early commitment to sustainability continues to inspire the work we do for clients,” says Senior jSD Designer and environmentalist Lisa Cunningham-Sherret. “Clients look to us to help them achieve their own sustainability goals.” Nowadays a major focus of jSD’s management of the entire life-cycle of clothes at work is the responsible end-of-life disposal of garments. “We find this means a lot to staff as well as employers,” says Lisa, adding that “sustainability can’t be treated as an add-on or afterthought but needs to be a green thread starting with design and running throughout the life of a garment.”
“We see fashion trends come and go with increasing speed,” says jSD Managing Director Charlotte McHardy. “And talking of the eighties, we often see them return too! But some changes remain. Sustainability is very much one of those areas of constant innovation and progress for jSD, including fabulous new recycled fabrics, for example, and designs made with a closed-loop life-cycle in mind.”
“Yes. No two years have ever been the same,” adds Susanne, a winner of the textile industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “And in many ways the last two years or so have seen more rapid and exciting changes than ever, from self-sizing apps and advanced body analytics to the full adoption of 3D visualising and pattern-making design tools.”
As Susanne says this, she points to the 3D avatar on a screen in jSD’s London Studios. It shows a current design for the UK’s Historic Royal Palaces – a hi-tech image of tradition in many ways summing up jSD’s remarkable mix of design heritage, tireless creativity and endless innovation that all started in 1981.