jimmy d – 10 years of dark androgynous deconstruction

In the current issue of Urbis #84, I wrote a piece to celebrate James Dobson of Jimmy D’s 10 years and 20 seasons of his trademark “dark, with a wry sense of humour, combining deconstructed, androgynous, over sized silhouettes with body conscious elements” design. If it weren’t for James this writer’s particular wardrobe would be pretty empty.  Many of my favourite pieces are his.  I love his almost timeless cleverness with drape that easily fits so many body shapes, sizes and genders.

What follows is the full interview with the witty Dobson (follow him of Twitter) as he ruminates on his love for K’ Rd (and his workspace), designing with longevity and what drives his design process.

How long have you been in your space?

We moved the Jimmy D workroom into this space in May 2011, the workroom then moved into a much bigger room a few few doors down about 6 months later. Earlier this year we got our hands on this space again using it as a temporary home for Children of Vision until we opened our store within-a-store at The Shelter in Ponsonby – we now use this space as an office/showroom/creative hub.

and how long in the neighbourhood?

The Jimmy D workroom moved out of the spare room of the Freemans Bay apartment in 2008 – at certain times of the year things would start slowly moving like an advancing glacier out of the door and take over the whole house. The new workroom was in a derelicte, grafitti strewn side room, part of the whole floor where Ciel PR, who represent me, was based at the Queen street end of K’Road. Children of Vision opened then in Saint Kevins Arcade at the beginning of 2009 and my love affair with K Road was cemented.

What drew you to it?

K road just has the most character out of any part of Auckland – art galleries rub shoulders with strip bars and there’s an energy that you don’t get anywhere else. It’s resisting getting too gentrified, attracting creatives and exciting new start-ups that couldn’t handle the rents of areas such as Ponsonby or Newmarket. Plus, just looking out the window is better than any reality TV show – never a dull moment round these parts…

How did you find the space? was it advertised or through word of mouth?

I knew about the space as it was the original Ciel PR offices (along with the other room that connects to it) for many years. It’s been passed between various fashion based friends since then, so it was kind of a nice evolution to be in here – it has a nice legacy. Before I moved in here Cybèle had the space and was looking to let it out – I jumped at the opportunity.

What do you know about the past uses of the space?

I don’t know much about past users – other rooms in this building have been artist studios, a drug rehabilitation centre, housed music lessons, photographic studios – pretty much as diverse as K road itself.

It’s your 10th birthday – is it your 20th season?

Our AW15 collection ‘Reality Bytes’ is our 21st collection.

How far have you come over these last ten yrs?

Going through my archives has been like delving into old diaries – each collection reminds me of music I was listening to at the time, pattern makers or interns I had working with me, artists I was collaborating with, shows we did – and there’s a lot of good stuff in there, sure there’s some stuff I’d like to burn, but I’m pretty proud of how it all hangs together – It definitely progressed but I think it has the same handwriting.

What did you envision when you started? How has the label progressed in terms of how you thought it might?

My very first collection was about the contrast of raw edged silks and screen printed tee shirting, and that’s still a combination that I love. When I’m designing the collection and it’s all diaphanous silks I start to miss the tee shirting and vice versa – there’s always a push and pull at the heart of every Jimmy D collection and I don’t think this has changed since I started.

What are your future hopes for Jimmy D and also Children of Vision?

More international travel with Children of Vision, overseas sales agents for Jimmy D, an expanded menswear collection and a basics line – even 10 years in, I’m in no hurry, I’ve seen a lot of labels come and go because they rushed things – I want to be here in another 10.

Tell us a bit about AW15 – does any of the new collection relate to your anniversary?

I revisited a few previous collections – especially ‘Everybody Loves Nobody Sometimes’ which was our first ever solo show at New Zealand Fashion Week – I have such a soft spot for this collection – from this range I brought back our cut out shoulder turtle necks which were a pretty pivotal layering piece in that show. Other than that, Winter is pretty forward looking – I think the slogan says it all ‘BIGGER & BETTER!’

Do you have anything special planned to celebrate?

We’re working on a party for when the collection goes in-store. There will be loud music, a showcase of 21 seasons worth of clothes and maybe even some donuts. I love a good donut.


All photographs by Michelle Weir



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