With hundreds of ethical and chic items, J Label is shaping the future of the fashion industry one collection at a time. They are proving that fair wages and eco-friendly materials are the secret to happy workers and happy customers. Let’s find out more…
J Label, the sustainable and stylish women’s fashion brand prioritising fair manufacturing, ethical materials, and female empowerment, has a beautiful aim: to make a positive difference in the world. Discover how the founders’ previous careers in law sparked their sustainable fashion journey, and be inspired by their progressive views on the future of our planet. Their story is heartfelt and personal, so join the conversation and learn how individual values can translate into fashion and design.
What is J Label and who is behind it?
J Label is a fair and sustainable women’s wear brand with a focus on female empowerment. It’s founded and owned by Judith van der Wolde and Janneke Honings, a former lawyer and jurist who take justice to the next level.
What made you decide to leave your previous careers to set up J Label?
We are both moms, aiming to raise our children to become independent, happy, free and conscious human beings. In the frame of ‘practice what you preach’, we decided to give our dream a chance by starting J Label, aiming to make a positive difference in the world.
How do your values from your previous careers (justice advocates) impact your brand’s ethos?
We’ve learned a lot in the field of law. Our previous careers made us analytical and critical thinkers. We both have a strong sense of justice. Over the last 50 to 60 years, western people have set up an enormous industry in developing countries to provide us with an excess amount of clothing. The sustainable and fair fashion movement tends to focus on local production, but consequently we forget all the people that were trained to be employed in the fashion industry. All these people over there, especially women, will be forgotten when clothing is produced locally. However, this industry has to change a lot to be able to provide fair and safe jobs. With J Label we want to contribute to that and be part of a positive change in this industry to as many people as possible. We feel responsible for that as privileged western women.
Do you see yourselves as role models for young people? How important is it to you to teach the children of tomorrow about climate change?
We actually think it’s the other way around. Young people, our next generation, are way more idealistic and activistic than our own generation. They can learn from the mistakes and ignorance of our generation and those before us. We can help them with that by being transparent and helpful with whatever necessary. We think it’s time for people to let go of their ego as much as possible and focus on healing the world’s wounds.
How have you explored your curiosity through J Label?
With lots of trial and error. We felt a huge drive to understand this massive industry that has so much impact on our world and human lives. We both have a passion for beauty and fashion. When combined with all the anthropology and psychology behind it, it becomes very interesting to us. We wanted to find a way to make fashion that’s beautiful for the wearer and manufacturer. We want both parties to empower each other thanks to fair production and clothing that has been made with love. This actually reflects in the garments and can be felt by its wearer.
It hasn’t been easy to start a fashion brand during a pandemic and run the brand without specific education. But our enthusiasm has helped us to learn many lessons and we’re very thankful for that.
How do you select the materials you use in your collections?
We always use the most sustainable options available for our designs. We start designing our collections by selecting deadstock fabrics and leftovers. We top it off with GOTS certified organic cotton, Tencel and FSC viscose. All these fabrics are close to our factories, reducing CO2 impact as much as possible.
Where do you manufacture your collections?
We produce in India, Mauritius and Lithuania for our current collections.
How sustainable is your design process? Tell us a little bit about it.
We make feminine pieces with an effortless look, in which the wearer feels beautiful and empowered in a timeless and ageless way. We always use the most sustainable options available for our designs. Most of our samples are made from leftover fabrics so there is no unnecessary waste.
"WE ARE is a documentary about your brand fighting for justice in the fashion industry. In this documentary, Sunita from India and Millie from Romania are in the spotlight. They are two of the makers of J LABEL' s collections. As you say, “empowered women empower other women”. Can you explain more about this?
Through our clothing, we connect makers and wearers. The women who manufacture our collections receive a fair living wage and work in good safe conditions. They are proud of their jobs. The pleasure they take in their work and their love for craftsmanship shows in the clothing they make. As a wearer, you can actually feel this in the quality of a garment. You make a real impact as a buyer when you pay a fair price for your clothing. There is a real person and a real story behind the clothes we buy. You can empower and acknowledge these women’s stories by supporting ethical brands.
What is your favourite collection and why?
We think our current collections effectively reflect what J Label stands for and we feel really proud of all the feminine flowy styles.
Tell us about your future plans.
We hope to grow our brand to be able to make a more positive impact with every new collection. We aim to develop more circular production in the near future, starting with jeans that we’re designing for next season. We also hope to be able to collaborate more with other brands and experts because we truly believe that sharing in complete honesty will open doors. If not for us, maybe it does for others that are in this sustainable journey as well.
This summer, shop J Label’s sustainable looks and support a brand that cares about the planet and the welfare of their workers. J Label teaches us that we need to uplift and empower each other and work together to combat fast fashion. Together we are stronger, let’s celebrate the joy of sustainable fashion this season.