A few weeks ago, a reader suggested SJW clothing, a brand that designs menswear for women founded by Sara Weston. We’re always hopeful, yet skeptical, when we get brand recommendations, because more times than I’d like to count, such recommendations lead us to brands only offering t-shirts and snapbacks. Both are great, but leave much to be desired for those looking for dapper clothing for work, interviews, weddings, and sartorially smart everyday attire. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the SJW site and found Elliot Sailors modeling this fantastic burgundy blazer:
Sara Weston’s background is in menswear tailoring with former label Eastie Empire. She’s always connected much more with menswear and prefers the shapes, fabrics and detailing. After being approached by a number of women asking her to make some of her menswear styles to fit them, Sara decided to switch it up and make menswear for women. So, I corresponded with Sara to get the 4-11 about the brand.
dapperQ: Can you tell me a bit about the history and evolution of SJW? What motivated you to start the brand?
SJW: The brand is an expression of my style for people like me, who like menswear but can’t find it to fit them. I’m not interested in wearing oversized men’s suits; I want to augment menswear. SJW is about getting the cut and shape right so it combines the traditions of menswear tailoring with a fit that flatters. We spend a lot of time engineering the fit, testing and re-cutting until we get the balance of girl meets boy just right. My mission is to create a fresh style that is genderless, that challenges the binary nature of fashion and gender, and embraces the spectrum and flow of people.
dapperQ: How would you describe the SJW aesthetic?
SJW: It’s a bit of a contradiction. Menswear and Womenswear. Vintage with Modern. Tailoring with Sportswear. Maybe a better description would be the love child of Oliver Twist, Katherine Hepburn, and Sam Lambert.
dapperQ: What inspires your designs?
SJW: I’m naturally drawn to old things. I love vintage fabrics, collectable fashion pieces….but I like to breathe my own life into them and make them mine. Whether this is taking a vintage pedal pusher and making them in reverse denim. I like the clash of old and new. An unexpected mix of fabrics, textures and colour.
dapperQ: How does SJW stand out from some of the other recent suit lines that have been launched to serve those who do not conform to the gender binary?
SJW: We started off as a menswear label with Eastie selling our collection to independent stores all around the world, so this has given us a firm foundation. With SJW, I think we are bridging the gap between menswear with womenswear with a strong house style that combines vintage and modern.
dapperQ: Elliot Sailors is a model for your line. What was it like to work with her?
SJW: Great. Elliott’s look is really in line with our label so it was great to join forces! She is bright and fun and easy to work with. And the fact that she loves the label makes every shot so much easier because it’s real.
dapperQ:How would you describe your everyday style(s)?
SJW: Always tomboy. But there is a spectrum of scruffy to smart – normally a bit of each in every day! If I’m working solo mainly vans with trousers and a tee, if I’m going out I like to dress up!
dapperQ: Has it been a journey defining your own personal style? Tell me about it.
SJW: I’ve gone through many styles over the years but underpinning them all is a boyishness and a gravitation towards menswear. SJW is my style and with every collection my wardrobe expands!
dapperQ: Who or what has most influenced your style?
SJW: No one designer – I like Watanable, Yohji, Dries, Comme. But, my inspiration comes more from characters, vintage clothes and random places.
dapperQ: Who are your fashion icons?
SJW: Currently, I like the boys from the Art Comes First collective.
dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?
SJW: My navy suede bomber….and my hat(s); They are always on rotation! My dad always used to say if you wanna get ahead, get a hat!!
dapperQ: What can we expect next from SJW?
SJW: We are coming to NYC in December so watch this space for a Winter Collection Pop Up.