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Jonathan Simkhai

Jonathan Simkhai

by Melissa Magsaysay

The Designer Inspired by and Creating for Strong Women

Jonathan Simkhai designs for today’s woman, but is often inspired by the strong women of the past. For his fall collection he considered the suffragettes all the way up to today’s invigorating feminist movement.

His nod to the fortitude of females is apparent in what he creates. There are gorgeous, body hugging stretch knits, beautifully constructed dresses and powerful (not to mention, impeccably tailored) blazers. There is an undoubted femininity throughout, but with a traditional toughness that comes in the form of structured silhouettes, a darker neutral color palette and weighty wool trousers.

Simkhai has been heralded as an exciting talent to watch by media and fashion insiders and it’s no mystery why. As a relatively new designer, his talent is unparalleled and his collections are always timeless.

Here, he discusses designing for a size-inclusive customer, diversity on the runway and why the west coast provides endless inspiration.

"The strength of a woman is much more powerful than words can really describe, which is why it has been a never-ending source of inspiration. Creating clothes that make the wearer feel confident to take on the world is the greatest satisfaction of my job."
Jonathan Simkhai
Jonathan Simkhai, courtesy of the designer.

Q & A With Jonathan

Your fall 18 collection was inspired by strong women, is this a constant source of inspiration for you?

Absolutely. I think female strength and vigor is so multifaceted and can be demonstrated in so many ways. The strength of a woman is much more powerful than words can really describe, which is why it has been a never-ending source of inspiration. Creating clothes that make the wearer feel confident to take on the world is the greatest satisfaction of my job.

Do you feel as though fashion is becoming more inclusive and diverse in the way people are designing and presenting their clothing?

There is still so much to be done and so far to go, but yes, fortunately, we as an industry have made some great strides recently. I feel so lucky to be here and to be here doing what I do at this moment. So much to work for, though I am grateful we're all living within these cultural shifts of recent years that have made our world a better place. For all of us to fight for what we believe in and watch it have an impact has been incredibly rewarding.

How do you think fashion can further the conversation for diversity?

I think using our fashion shows and campaigns as an opportunity to cast models of different backgrounds and identities is so important. There is also a real need for us to incorporate this into our company's DNA on a daily basis. Obviously, it is different for every brand, but any small step we can make in the right direction, publicly or privately, speaks volumes.

You've relocated to LA how does the city inspire you creatively?

The West Coast has some of the most inspiring landscapes. Los Angeles is a big city but you still feel as though you’re surrounded by nature. The mountains and canyons in their beautiful laurel greens are daily inspirations for me. There is an undeniably free-spirit on the West Coast that is hard to find elsewhere. And the road trips driving along the ocean to Big Sur make you feel as if you're at the edge of the world.

What/who else is a consistent source of inspiration for you?

Fearlessness will always be a guiding inspiration for me. Anyone who stands up for the adversity of others is an inspiration in my eyes. Janet Mock in particular is one of my favorite women of all time. To achieve all that she has accomplished despite a tremendous amount of adversity is simply astounding.

As a young and super successful designer, what do you consider the next big goal for your company and brand?

That is so kind of you to say, thank you! I love what I do and my goal is simply to try and provide people with garments that make them feel beautiful. Highlighting someone's inner passions, and unleashing a sense of poise, self-assurance and confidence is always my number one priority.

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