The Interview: Nina Hopkins, Founder, Jakke
Jakke is a cruelty free faux fur fashion brand recognised for its cool and fun alternatives to real fur offering. The brand's faux fur jackets are cruelty free, which means that no animal suffered for one of its "fabulous fluffy pieces".
Each one of its faux furs has a removable “Free From Fur” patch on the sleeve to be worn with pride. The collection has now organically extended to a new range of “Free From Wool” knits and “Free From Feather” Puffers.
Awarded “Best Faux Fur Brand” in 2017 and “Best Wool Free Brand” in 2018, Jakke was pleased to be recognised by PETA alongside luxury brands Gucci, Stella McCartney and Net-a-Porter for their animal friendly achievements.
Founded by East London Designer Nina Hopkins whose love of design was instilled in her from an early age. Nina tells us more:
Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up in East London and had an innate love for design and clothes from an early age. My formative years were shaped by both my father’s love of conceptual art and my mother’s passion for sewing and vintage markets so my childhood memories are of gallery visits, museums and shopping trips spent scouring Brick Lane’s vintage markets.
After leaving college I completed a Fashion degree at The London College of Fashion and upon graduating, designed for multiple high street stores such as Topshop, New Look and H&M finally specialising in outerwear.
When did you launch and what was the initial response?
Jakke launched in early 2015 and had an immediate positive response. We were stocked in major stores by the autumn that year. Our product was something that was definitely missing and highly in demand. Jakke has since been stocked by some of the most influential global stores including Kadewe Germany, Topshop London, The Iconic Australia and Rinascente Italy. We are now in over 20 countries.
How did you identify a gap in the market?
It was while designing outerwear for some of the Nation’s favourite high street fashion multiples that I struck on the idea for Jakke. Catwalks were showing real fur but my ambition was to create an ethically minded collection of fashionable faux furs that were affordable. I wanted to create a brand that would bridge the price gap between the High street and High end whilst using the best quality faux fur and without compromising on style; allowing fashion-forward women buy confidently into ethical fashion.
Could you summarise your brand identity?
Faux fur is the core of the brand but generally our ethos is “Free From” - we don’t use any fur, leather, wool or silk in our garments. All our products are cruelty free. We have detachable “Free From Fur” labels on all of our jackets and our customers love to show these off. Our faux furs have become part of our brand identity because they are usually fun and brightly coloured.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
In terms of inspiration, I draw from art, culture, Scandinavian design (jakke is Danish for jacket) and my observations through travel.
I tend not to follow fashion trends too much as I believe that Jakke should slot into your wardrobe no matter the season.
What is your favourite piece from your current collection?
My favourite piece from our current SS20 collection is the Lilium Faux Leather Croc embossed Mac. It’s a must have staple piece and is free from hardware so that it has a lovely clean and streamlined appearance. Faux Leather is a new product we have introduced for SS20 and I was meticulous in its development so that it resembled the characteristics of real leather. It is butter soft and drapes beautifully but more important can be worn with a clear conscience.
What is the design process at Jakke?
Faux Fur (outerwear) is the core and foundation of the brand so I usually start here. I usually start off with kooky print ideas (hand drawn by myself). I use the colours from the prints and build these into the knitwear, plain furs and the puffer jackets so that the range forms a coherent story.
Sustainability is becoming a crucial focus the fashion industry, in what ways is Jakke incorporating sustainability into its business model and brand identity?
We are aware that currently our faux fur is non-biodegradable. We use a mix of Modacrylic fibre, which is the most luxurious of the synthetic faux furs. We’ve made our garments to last for a long time and we therefore encourage our customers to be responsible and care for their items, never throwing them away.
Further, a faux fur coat at the end of its life can be repurposed so we have teamed up with the Royal Trinity Hospice Charity in the aim of preventing our jackets ending up on Landfill. We have asked all of our customers to send back their used jackets in exchange for a 25% voucher to be used against a new purchase.
Moving forward for AW20 we are taking an exciting new approach to sustainability, in particular how it comes to producing our faux fur. Sustainability is now becoming the ethos for the brand and we are continually looking for ways to improve our ecological footprint.
What are your key business achievements to date?
Jakke has been awarded “Best Faux Fur Brand - 2017” and “Best Wool-Free Collection – 2018” in the PETA Fashion Awards, being recognised alongside luxury powerhouse brands Gucci, Stella McCartney and Net-A-Porter for their animal friendly achievements.
What is the future for Jakke?
Jakke is growing every year and expanding its product range. We want to be seen as an ethical brand that cares about sustainability and we are constantly researching new ways to produce beautiful, sustainable products.
We would also love to start collaborating with British talent to produce exciting capsule collections; this is something we will be hoping to introduce for future seasons.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a fashion business?
My advice would be to research your market thoroughly, identify a gap in the market or a point of difference from your competitors. Also outsource work that you cannot do yourself for example accounting, PR and marketing; leave it to the experts and don’t spread yourself thin.