Lagos designer creates zero-waste fashion brand

A Lagos-based fashion designer is producing zero-waste garments made out of doilies, duvets, sheets and textile waste as raw materials, using environmentally friendly techniques such as smock, embroidery and crochet.

Jéssica António, 28, handmakes fashion pieces in her studio in Praia da Luz. Some with fabrics she buys, others with material she receives from people and a second-hand shop in Lagos, which donates clothing that is too large or cannot be sold.

“Some pieces are 100% zero waste, made using techniques, such as ‘smock’, which is an English technique that I use in many of my pieces”, she says. It is a “very delicate” technique she learned in Denmark, in which a small manual machine with curved needles produces details for parts and accessories.

Using the name J-ANT – the ‘slow fashion’ brand Jessica began developing in 2020 – the designer sells pieces on her website and international platforms. Her clients are mostly foreigners, American or Japanese, or residents in Portugal, such as Brits and Russians, since “it has been difficult, for now, to reach the national market”.

“Most of my customers are foreigners. The Portuguese show interest, but we have to be realistic: they might nothave the money to spend on a piece like this”, notes the designer, defining the style of her creations as “raw” and “relaxed luxury”, in which neutral tones predominate, with a romantic and traditional touch.

J-ANT dress
Photo // Marinka Grondel @marinkagrondel

Her collection – for which she only uses natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, wool or silk – includes coats, tops and bustiers and, soon, bags made with reused duvets, doilies converted into tops and other pieces made from sheets.

“We also use a lot of men’s suits, which are deconstructed to recreate new pieces”, like the blazer that Carolina Deslandes recently wore on a television show, after which the singer publicised the brand and increased Jéssica’s visibility on social media.

The designer’s passion for fashion started when she moved to the Netherlands with her mother when she was 12. There she started making clothes for her dolls and went on to take a course in Fashion and Design. She later didinternships in Copenhagen, Denmark and Barcelona.

Following her return to Portugal in 2019, she sold some of her pieces online. Surprised by the high price one of her coats fetched, she started thinking about having her own brand.

However, having lived abroad for so many years, Jéssica admits that she had to adapt to the Portuguese reality. Acountry where developing a brand is “completely different” from what she was used to, since the industry is “more limited” and where it is practically impossible to establish partnerships without costs.

Another obstacle she faces is collecting and selecting textile waste, to which Jessica gives a new life: “in Portugal, it is a little difficult to get material. In Holland, everyone, almost every year, cleans their houses, and there are a lot of duvets that we can use. In Portugal, it is very limited”.

Because her handmade pieces are unique, very detailed, and finished with great care – for example, the blazer Carolina Deslandes wore demanded more than two days of work, other pieces even longer – her designs reach values that already belong to the luxury market.

The cheapest are the accessories, which start at €60, crochet tops from €120 and coats priced between €950 and €2,000.

“I’m still positioning myself to reach my market”, says the stylist, confiding that one of her dreams is to have a fashion show at Moda Lisboa.

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