Keeping Up with Kim Jones: The Digital Creative Ushers in a New Era of Influence

Keeping Up with Kim Jones: The Digital Creative Ushers in a New Era of Influence


So, you think you know Miss Jones. That’s @kimcamjones, not to be mistaken for the other Kim Jones, the fashion designer and artistic director formerly for Louis Vuitton and now Dior Homme. In a world where one’s personal brand is vital, it’s not easy to share a name with a top tier artistic director. Interestingly enough, Google the name and guess whose name appears at the coveted top spot? That’s right. It’s our girl, doe-eyed and stylishly coiffed. It’s not easy to outshine major stars, especially in the fashion industry. But that’s Kim Jones, and she isn’t doing it alone.

It’s mid-afternoon and the team has just finished a rough and tumble shoot in Arizona’s famous slot canyons, those sublimely stunning, alien-like rock structures carved by furious flooding a millennia ago. It’s negative one-degree Celsius and there’s an increasingly sharp breeze, an intimation of the coming snowstorm, the kind that grounds airplanes and solidifies the vastness and quietness of this sleepy Small Town, USA. We are driving towards the cliffs of Horseshoe Bend, where gigantic slabs of solid rock and a meandering river create a breathtaking if dangerous view. One slip and you could tumble down to the ice-tipped boulders. You would think the area’s strict security was to keep the tourists from falling to their untimely deaths, but no. There’s construction happening around the area and they’re limiting the people coming in to park. This was the second time we’ve driven up to the venue, as we’d previously been waved away. This time Jones is in the passenger seat, dressed in a divine Louis Vuitton ensemble, her platinum locks highlighting her already stunning face. She rolls down the window. “Hi, sir! We’re just going to pop in really quick—we’re not going to park,” she says sweetly at the ruddy faced old man with the Donald Trump hair. He shakes his head no, gesturing for us to move on. Jones begs him, pointing out that he’d just allowed the rest of our team in a car ahead of us to go down. Mr. Kind-of Trump stands his ground. No. We are getting frantic. The light is fading. The temperature is dropping. Suddenly our “driver,” actually Associate Publisher, Janine Recto, pops her head right next to Jones. “Sir, I’m not going to park, I’m just going to drop them,” she says. Instantly his gruff countenance drops and he smiles, laughs even. “Why didn’t you say so? Come right in!” He says, setting the traffic cone aside. We explode into laughter as we roll into the makeshift parking lot. The next car, and all the ones behind it, are all sent back.

It’s comical, but that episode was indicative of the kind of group work that was happening throughout the trip. Everyone was stepping up, getting creative. We were on our own, far from the comforts of a warm studio and controlled environment. Later, inside the hotel, Jones and I sit by a crackling fireplace and chat about her life, The Fore, collaboration, and all the things that are coming up in the creative industries. “I will go so far as to say that the future of fashion and the future of retail is really in collaboration,” she says. “We can’t do it alone. The landscape right now, especially with this digital revolution—we’re too far behind if we think that we can do things on our own.” This #MakingMEGA experience has shown just what a team player Jones is. She shifts roles easily and smoothly, from leader to follower, from subject to creator. In this issue, she took on the role of creative director and it was amazing to witness how seamlessly and naturally she slipped into the multiple roles across a variety of disciplines. How does she know all of this? “Well, [for] one I’m a Leo,” she says with a laugh when asked how she came to be. “I think I’ve always just been adamant about self-education; I’m an autodidact—whatever I want to learn, I invest myself and assimilate entirely.” Jones is one of the handful of international style stars who have gone beyond simply dressing up and smiling for the camera.

Her collaborations with legacy houses such as Louis Vuitton are well established among industry followers, and her stellar position among Filipino fashionistas who have crossed over to international fame rivals perhaps only Bryanboy. It seems like it was only a few short years ago that the UK-born Australian arrived on Philippine shores and enchanted not a handful of people, including one of the most eligible matinee idols of local cinema. The leap from commercial model to international fashion star to one of the pioneers of this new hybrid creative running her own company The Fore, is phenomenal for anyone’s standards, yet Jones seems nonplussed by it. “I think every step along the way—from my decision of leaving Australia and moving to the Philippines, and now spending so much time in New York—those micro moments that have helped educate the succeeding chapters in my life,” she says. Every experience, to Jones, is a learning one. She cites how modeling taught her production, how her firsthand experience working with the cream of the fashion industry taught her how to run The Fore, and how working in McDonald’s taught her time management.

Not many people working in the world of fashion will cop to working in fast food, but Jones has no qualms sharing it. Her integrity is one of the qualities that sets her apart from the rest of the fash pack found inside and outside the shows. Unlike many others, Jones is emboldened to speak up about its limitations. “The fashion industry is a very romanticized industry,” she says, “and it still is.”

“It’s one of those industries that gives you chills when you see couture down the runway, when you see the entire design process and the heart and the passion of the people behind those pieces. But it’s also a very broken industry. There are a lot of flaws. We can talk about the waste, we can talk about hazardous materials, we can talk about labor and human rights issues.”

She goes on: “I think it’s such a powerful industry— fashion is such an expression of who we are, it’s second skin—it’s the skin that we choose. That’s the reason why I chose to focus on the industry…My life doesn’t revolve around fashion. I enjoy it, it’s an outlet, it is a form of expression for me as many others. But for me, I could never just start a fashion company. It had to stand for something else, it had to stand for substance, it had to stand alongside my core values as a human being.”

Jones is passionate about The Fore, which describes itself as a digital platform for independent creatives. Alongside emotive, esoteric editorials is an e-commerce site where one-off collections, most of them from highly talented and intelligent Filipino creators. Here, her dream of creative collaboration really takes shape. Again, we see Jones’s self-aware eyes-on-the-stars-feet-on-the- ground approach to creation: “We want more multi- disciplinary collaborations, and we want them with our customers. It’s a lofty goal and not devoid of differences in opinion and compromise, but we believe in this platform as a means of celebrating differences and diversity. We believe in conflict.

We believe in creating a platform that creates a safe space for differing perspectives. It’s 2019, our customers care about standing for something larger than they are. The fashion industry is rife with monopolies and elitism, and we are so excited to come together as creatives and dissect those outdated ideas.” It’s heady, earnest stuff, but in the new age that is to come, there is no room for outdated jadedness. Jones, part of the Millennial generation that is seeing its can-do, plucky attitude tested by harsh and changing socio- economic, political and cultural landscape, is perhaps doing her part for her peers and for the young ones coming in, some of them working with her at The Fore.

Back at Horseshoe Bend, Jones stands near the edge of the cliff, carefully stepping her stack-heeled boots and striking a pose. Some of the tourists gawk at the woman with the crystalline eyes, oblivious to the cold. Her signature stance speaks of quiet confidence, feminine and strong, with her limbs stretched out, her back straight and her face soft and searching. As soon as we are done with a shot, she calls out to her own team, and they shoot their own material, Jones directing them with clear-eyed focus. She may seem like she’s just posing quietly, but in fact her mind is running another show, taking in possible locations and thinking of the next shot, the next look, the next step. She is not one to let opportunities go to waste. This was made exceedingly clear during our dinner the night before, the only one we got to enjoy with Jones on account of the inclement weather. Over several glasses of pinot noir and Southwestern sushi, Jones and the team go through the shoot. Everything, from the concept to lighting to makeup and logistics, is discussed. This isn’t normal behavior for a cover star, but then again, Jones is no mere cover star. Yes, she is demanding, but we are as demanding. As collaborators, we know that a well-honed game plan is essential to a successful photo shoot and that everyone needs to bring their A-game, and be on the same wavelength. Perhaps why Jones is such a stickler for details is perhaps due to her fulfilling the role of the creative, which includes periods of self-doubt. “I ask myself the questions of whether I’m good enough, talented enough, creative enough,” she says. “My confidence comes from the fulfillment of self. I am an autodidact in the many fields I work in and the constant education I get from that exposure and experience kind of fortifies these building blocks of who I am in order to progress. The saying ‘you’re only as good as your last project’ is outdated and needs to be challenged. We need to rewrite how we view success and work on accepting the works and opinions of others.”

All The Designers Kim Jones Wore On Our May 2019 Cover

As we prepare to leave, Jones asks for a team shot. It’s a peculiar request, because it’s cheesy and well, Jones just seems too cool for this sort of thing. The team is all too happy to pose for the Filipina receptionist who takes it, with everyone smiling widely at the camera. It’s never easy to shoot outside the confines of one’s comfort zone, but it’s what makes creatives grow. The photos on these pages hopefully show the remarkable experience, the meeting of the minds and skillset. There was no one hero, not even the cover star, who had to give way to the caprice of a construction worker just doing his job. “The measure of intellect is really not how book smart you are,” says Jones, rounding up her interview, “it’s your ability to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances. So, get used to doing that.” 

Art direction JANN PASCUA
Makeup and hair XENG ZULUETA (Artists & Co. Manila)
Shoot coordination ANGELA JACOB and JANINE RECTO

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