1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand. Is it just you behind everything? How long have you been in business and where are you located?
We are a sustainable and fun women’s fashion brand aiming at zero waste. We love natural textiles like linen, organic cotton and silk. Our design ideas are inspired by our close friends and their unique styles and body types.
We, bill (Isabelle) + jay (Jea), have been best friends for a decade now and starting a clothing line together has been a longstanding dream, which we were excited to finally realize in 2017. It is just the two of us doing all the design, patternmaking, and sewing, and well, everything, here at bill+jay.
Isabelle is cutting and stitching in DC, and Jea is making in Portland, Oregon.
2. Of all the products you sell, what’s your personal favorite?
What a hard question! We have new designs coming out for fall, but of our summer line…
Isabelle: The Isabelle Shorts, of course, but I’m a little bit biased. I love that they are perfect balance of polished and casual, plus they are very figure flattering for many body types.
Jea: I love the Robin Cover. I wear it basically every day. The Robin Cover keeps the sun off my shoulders without overheating me, while doubling as the perfect layer for summer evenings. It’s a piece you didn’t know you need, until you get one and it becomes the only thing you wear.
3. Name a brand you love, other than your own. Why do you love it?
There are too many to name! But, Eileen Fisher is a brand that has inspired us from the very early dreamings of this project. We love her timeless style and sustainable practices.
4. Tell us something that most people don’t know about the fashion industry.
Let’s talk about plastic… microplastic (tiny plastic fibers) are now present in the vast majority of the world’s water systems, and we’re not optimistic about how a world without clean water will fare.
A large contributor to this problem is the fashion industry, and the breakdown of synthetic fabrics in landfills as well as in the laundry. This is why we have worked super hard to design clothing that uses absolutely zero plastic – including our forthcoming pants!
On a related note, most people also overwash their clothing, and we could decrease a lot of fashion industry waste simply by washing our clothes less frequently, in order to extend their life and reduce water waste.
5. How do you see the future for ethical and sustainable fashion?
We are so excited that there is a lot of discussion and interest right now in ethical, sustainable fashion. Ideally, we hope one day the fashion industry will get to a place where we can be working toward not just sustainable practices, but further toward regenerative practices. We hope that ethical and sustainable fashion will begin to look toward implementing practices that will leave the earth and the people we work with better than before.
6. Have you personally achieved your perfect wardrobe? If not, what do you need to improve on?
Isabelle: Surprisingly, I don’t have enough bill+jay in my wardrobe; I’ve been busy working on orders and haven’t made them for myself! Ideally, one day, my wardrobe will consist of only natural fibers, but I’m still holding onto some old favorites.
Jea: I think my personal wardrobe is lacking in ethical/sustainable shoes! I’ve been wearing pretty much exclusively Danskos for several years, and my latest pairs are now getting pretty worn, so I’ll be looking at improving this area of my wardrobe come fall.
7. Any particular future plans for the brand, that you could reveal for us?
This is still very much in the idea stage, but we hope next year to start working on a sister line of bespoke and ready-to-wear wedding apparel!