Know Your Labels: Azede Jean-Pierre

  • Azede Jean-Pierre's advice to young designers: "Focus on designing things your customer will want to live in. I know that sounds cliché but it really is the most important thing. Too often we designers get caught up in the art, which is great, but this business is a marriage of art and commerce." Azede is wearing a criss-cross crop top from her Spring 16 collection over a merino wool t-shirt from the same season. (Similar here). The pants are prototypes for Fall 16 and her shoes are Prada.
  • It's exciting to add Azede Jean-Pierre to our list of designers to watch. (Image from her Spring 16 look book.)
  • The only thing more striking than that upper arm is the top that exposes it.
  • Never underestimate the power of a bow.
  • The writing's on the sash: "[W]e were inspired by my home country, Haiti! Some of the styles were enhanced with embroidery of Haitian proverbs. A few, like, "Deye mon gen mon," which translates to, "Beyond mountains are more mountains," are poetic, while others, like, "MEZANMI!" (which is a phrase expressing dismay or exasperation) are a bit more tongue-in-cheek.
Amelia Diamond | January 27, 2016

Solange Knowles, Lady Gaga and even Michelle Obama have worn her designs, but for Jean-Pierre, it’s about more than influencer recognition.

Azede Jean-Pierre designs clothes for the globe trotting, sophisticated free spirit. “I want to move fashion forward,” she told me in an interview.

The Atlanta, Georgia raised designer launched her line in 2012 after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design then moving to New York City, but it’s her unique background that gives Jean-Pierre’s strong vision such deep roots: she’s a refugee from Pestel, Haiti and a first generation American.

“Being native of Haiti, living in suburban America and working in fashion,” she told me, “I’ve seen the world from many different prospectives. I can relate to the marginalized groups in developing countries as well as the world traveler and fashion connoisseur. My brand is the bridge between those cultures.”

One of her goals is to reduce poverty and promote long-term sustainable growth in developing countries by hiring and supporting artisans of marginalized groups. Starting with the SS16 collection (in the slideshow above), she’s working with artisans in developing countries to develop and manufacture aspects of each collections. For example, all of the embroidered Spring styles were produced by female artisans in Haiti.

But the thoughtful threads don’t end there.

“To give back,” said Jean-Pierre, “We partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., the Christian Veterinary Mission in conjunction with the CDC and Humane Society International for Spring 2016 to deliver and administer rabies vaccines to the dogs in Arcahaie, Haiti in October of 2015. We consider it a brand value and plan to continue giving back and keep growing our manufacturing in other under-developed areas like Sudan, Peru, South Africa, Kenya and Indonesia in the near future.”

Another brand value: empowering women. “Innovation in technique is empowering because it allows a women to stand out in the most sophisticated, subtle and refined way,” she explained. Her website furthers this thought: “[T]he line…empowers its customers by providing clothes that speak to her personality, as well as her wants and her needs as a fashion connoisseur.” And it continues beyond aesthetics: “We empower and support our artisans by hiring families from marginalized groups to produce finely crafted commercially viable products to be treasured.”

Such dedication to female strength and beauty is apparent in Jean-Pierre’s designs — the way fabric slips off body slopes, flatters and hugs but doesn’t compress or hide or constrict. The shapes are full and easy but not overwhelming; ruffled but not fussy and sometimes tied up with bows for the sake of a great detail. It’s a reminder that anything sweet and lovely should command no less respect than that which makes up the more typical armor.

When asked the essential Know Your Labels question — What should every woman have? — Azede Jean-Pierre offered up the “fashion answer” first: “pieces that fit amazingly and reflect her personality,” then gave an all-around “life answer” second: “Decisive and straight-forward best friends.”

As for what she thinks the fashion industry needs the most as a whole right now? “Diversity and new perspectives.”

Portrait images photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Lookbook images from Azede Jean-Pierre.

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  • http://www.sadiebessvintage.blogspot.com/ Sadie Bess

    Amazing work! I just love the textured striped dress in slide 23. Plus, she’s a SCAD girl!

  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    I’m trying to create a list of brands that not only create beautiful clothes, but also aren’t involved in the destruction of the environment and of entire civilizations. I’ll be adding this one.

    With all the Netflix documentaries I’ve watched in the past couple of months, I became really disheartened by the brands I shop with. It’s kind of hard finding a balance between cost and societal impact.

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      What are some other good ones you’ve found?

      • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

        So far the list is short, but here is what I have found:
        1. Maiyet (https://maiyet.com/)
        2. Aritzia (http://us.aritzia.com/default)
        3. Reformation

        And I also found this article: http://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/fair-trade-clothing
        Which lists a bunch of brands.

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  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Beautiful!

  • http://tootsplusdill.blogspot.com Melanie@Toots + Dill

    Wow what an amazing message she has!!! Love her line too!

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    This is awesome! And it shows that fashion and social awareness and activism aren’t mutually exclusive. They can co-exist and flourish. I especially love what she is doing for women in developing countries

  • Samantha

    I remember reading her blog years and years ago. I’m so happy that she’s finding success.

    • Janel Hairston

      I am getting a salary of 4500 dollars each week. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and no bank credit . Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 54 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine.

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  • Caitlin

    Looove the clothes – this is exactly how I want to dress! Its also nice to see MR spotlight a brand which produces ethical fashion.

  • http://www.werenotexclusive.com Cortne Morgan

    Whoo! Scad girls! Love her.