Jessie Andrews on the Importance of Vintage and Sustainable Fashion

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Jessie Andrews is woman of many talents- a wildcard of sorts. Above all, she is an entrepreneur. Andrews is the founder of four brands: Bagatiba, Basic Swim, Jeu Illimite, and Petiue. Originally from Miami, she is now based out of Los Angeles.

On her most recent trip to New York, Andrews visited The Break to discuss the integral role of sustainability in her brands, and how vintage fits into the mix.

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How do you incorporate vintage into your own brands?

I’m definitely inspired by vintage when I design. I make sure that nothing is a replica, so I try things on and fit them to millennial styles and shapes, but keep the classic elements that new designers tend to leave out.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your own brands?

I use stainless steel bases for Bagatiba, keep style SKUs low and minimal designs and colors for Basic Swim, use only deadstock fabrics produced in small quantities for Jeu Illimite. I’m always going to incorporate sustainability into my brands. I do as much as I can. If it costs me double to pay for something that’s sustainable over something that’s not, I’ll do it. That’s why when people tell me ‘everyone does Gold Hoops’ I’m tell them ‘not everyone does Gold Hoops that are sustainable.’ I hope they’ll shop Bagatiba over competitors. It’s an extremely hard business because everything costs more.

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Did anything specific cast light on the importance of vintage and sustainable fashion for you? What made you first aware of it?

I’ve always been a minimalist. Because of that, I never over-design; I create the essentials and timeless pieces for each brand. I keep that process the further I go into growing my businesses. I want my designs to live forever and be relevant in 50 years, like the amazing vintage that is resold today. Fashion is so fast now, I hope I can educate the buyer to not fall into over consuming.

Why do you believe shopping vintage is so important? How does sustainability tie into that?

I think it’s important because the fashion industry is damaging our world, in a bigger way than we (may) know. I think buying vintage helps slow down that process. Even though I am in the fashion industry, I do as much as I can and I hope that long term I can be part of the bigger change.

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What are your favorite destinations for buying vintage in LA? NY? What are your favorite sources of vintage inspiration in the two cities?

In LA I’m all over the place, from Goodwill to Squaresville to Iguana Vintage. In NYC, there’s a few shops on Broome I like and one on Prince Street, but The Break is by far my favorite. The fact that it is so well curated and affordable is all that I look for in shopping.

What differences do you notice between New York and LA in terms of shopping and sourcing vintage clothing?

I think there’s much more vintage in LA. We have these massive wholesale warehouses with $500 minimums to get into. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that in NYC. Prices are similar, it all depends where you shop. I also love shopping vintage on eBay.

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What are your favorite sustainable brands?

I love Reformation. I love when a brand can actually show you how and why they’re sustainable. You get a lot of companies claiming things, but ones that prove it are the real leaders. I mostly wear my own designs & vintage finds.

What inspired you to launch your own brands?

Freedom keeps me inspired and driven. I love creating. I wanted to offer affordable on trend designs that are good quality in small quantities. Sometimes you forget how special 1 of 10 is because we’re used to buying 1 of 10,000. I love designing for my generation. I love learning every aspect of business and production. I love that having my own brands gives me the opportunity to create freely.

How has your experience been in fashion as a female entrepreneur? Do you keep things women-led? What is your staff like?

I think most fashion entrepreneurs are female. So I reckon I’ve had pretty normal experiences. A year ago I hired my first employee, she’s amazing. She’s educated, experienced in fashion & learns quickly. It’s important for me to be able to bounce ideas off someone and teach them everything I know, who actually wants to learn!

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How do you separate yourself from toxicity on social media?

Since I’m running five Instagram accounts, production for products, emails & phone meeting, along with friends texting me, I feel like I’m always doing something on my phone or computer. When I’m with someone I make it a point to put my phone away and be present. I try not to get caught up scrolling on my explore page but everyone gets lost sometimes. I need to to stay relevant and alert for my businesses.

What are your favorite activities etc. to bring yourself back to reality? (Or just in general)

Yoga. Sauna. Getting a massage. Anything I can’t have my phone for.

Any hints on your plans for the future?

Sunscreen! This summer Petiue.com will show you what I’ve been working on for the past few years!   

Photos by Kira Shipway, Interview by Elianah Sukoenig