GINGERSNAP: WHEN TIMELESS FASHION SETS NEW CODES BETWEEN BALI AND PARIS

When two authentic, passionate creative talents meet, we may encounter surprises. Today, the world of fashion is stuck with strict “codes” that lack fantasies — driven by temporal requirements and the desire to copy the big “brands”. But what if fashion could be timeless yet sophisticated, adventurous but also minimalistic, and forever seductive? That’s exactly what Jay and Jam have endlessly worked hard on, during the last 12 years, upon launching Gingersnap. Today, the brand has set up singular standards as a ready-to-wear brand that only produces time-based pieces — as well as cutting-edge classics we all love. But what’s so special about Gingersnap lays somewhere else. Behind the success of this boutique brand is the charisma of two men from different yet complementary horizons — who imagined fashion as spontaneous, versatile yet low-key and charming. In our article today, we spoke with the two minds who created a brand that’s forever chic with no pretense.


Can you introduce us to Gingersnap in 3 words? What is the essence of Gingersnap?

 

Jay: Gingersnap is warm, magic, and fabulous. The word “Gingersnap” is taken from two ideas. Ginger is a kind of medicine, warm, and can give you a comfortable feeling, and Snap refers to touch. So we could say that with Gingersnap, we give a touch of warmth to the people, to EVERYONE we wear our clothes. 

Jam: Our philosophy is set upon urban wear, sophistication, and monochrome. When we created Gingersnap 12 years ago, we were into “cocktail dresses” which were prevalent at the time in Bali and quickly ran out of our view of fashion. As the creative director of Gingersnap, I’ve built a brand that echoes who I am as a man and reflects my personal views of fashion. I’m in love with small, boutique designers. I hate time-based, seasonal fashion — it lacks some freedom to me and Gingersnap is free. So I tend to spend time alone, exploring for hidden gems somewhere when I travel and I enjoy finding unique pieces. Today, we make urban wear inspired by Asian culture and our motto is strongly focused on limited edition.

 

“Gingersnap is warm, magic, and fabulous.” — Jay

 

Tell us about the creative process of making clothes at Gingersnap?

Jay: We design based on our mood. Jam has some ideas, creates a sample, and later consults me. We fuse easily and we strive on improving the collection as a pair. Jam is good for coloring and details. As for me, I give a final touch to the design created by Jam. We have been working together since 2008 and I have learned a lot from his side. Yet what’s special is that both of us have the same taste. We have the soul, the character, and the light of Gingersnap right. It’s like a 6th sense, it’s like telepathy.

 

“The final touch is important in fashion.” — Jay

 

Jam: We start with the fabric. It could come from China, Italy, India, everywhere. What matters to me is finding a beautiful, stunning, elegant fabric. It’s something that I have deeply rooted in my childhood. When I was just 18 months, I was spending countless moments with my four sisters and my mother and found myself looking under their lace dresses, skirts, and apparel. Once my mum confessed, “He is crazy about fabric. That’s all he is interested in.” Later on, my sisters were often bringing textiles I could play with. I somehow got fascinated by the impressive world of fabric. Therefore, at Gingersnap, once we find the materials we love, I reflect on what type of clothes could fit this specific fabric. I think of the structure and find a way to make it more sophisticated with the details. I think of haute-couture finishings that could be replicated on ready-to-wear. Once I have an idea of the form based on the silhouette, I draft something, and I handover the design to my interns and stylists.

 

“If there’s one world that always becomes out of trend, it’s fashion itself.”— Jam

 

Which collection was truly special to you, any moment or else that truly made you think, “Wow, that’s pretty stunning.”

Jam: Each year, I love the collection more and more. It’s been such a way for 7 or 8 years. Yet after 6 months, I tend to get bored and I have the urgency to create something new. For the last 2 years, we have explored the broad spectrum of colors. Our touch was monochrome featuring white nuances. We have many types of white as well as four pages of different blacks in our reference catalog. Last year, I also launched a new line, “Natural” which boasts see-through fabrics and monochrome garments inspired by Japan and its singular view of fashion. This collection features natural linen and cotton veil all blended. The fabric is imported from Italy. I’m impressed by this new line and our upcoming project.

Can you present us your new projects or collections?

Jay: The upcoming collection makes me special. It’s something for me. I feel that this collection truly reflects my character. Jam would say, “It’s so you.” So for 2020, we mix some cultures, some years. For instance, we blend Japanese style with Arab culture and we add a Balinese touch. 

Jam: The new collection is more sophisticated and less minimalistic as we introduce a new ingredient which is bio wash. The bio-wash process is a wet, permanent finish that is usually done before dyeing, which I discovered earlier with John Varvatos, an American designer worn by Mike jagger. Furthermore, this collection is more monochrome, has a vintage twist, and is deeply thought-forward. 

For the new collection, what will be the new fabric?

Jay: We are still working with natural linen. We also use cotton fabric with different textures. Depending on the design, we may have heavier and lighter cotton fabrics. But what’s truly different is the coloring. We have explored a new coloring technique with the bio-wash process as explained by Jam earlier.

In general, what about the materials, the fabrics, how do you source them?

Jay: I would say that 40% of our collection is made from linen, another 30% is made from rayon, and 20% is made from pattern fabric. Yet at Gingersnap, we have different collections. The basic collection requires us to use the same fabric while changing the details. The capsule collection is created from scratch from something novel with the new fabric of the moment that we love. 

Jam: Since we start with the fabric to create clothes at Gingersnap, our process heavily relies on sourcing top fabrics from all around the world — through the catalogs, word of mouth, or our discoveries. I receive catalogs from marketing agents who introduce me to new fabrics and sometimes when I have time, I visit salons. For instance, there is a new salon in Vietnam which I’d love to visit soon. And when I can, during my shopping, I look for new materials, alternative patterns, unknown fabrics, and when I like the materials of some new clothing, I research what is made from.

Tell us about your environmentally friendly process of making clothes? 

Jay: We use cotton fabric and have introduced a new way of coloring. However, the new process is not yet 100% organic or environmentally friendly. Another eco-friendly element is that we don’t use chemicals when producing in our factories; plus, we use organic plastic and recycled paper in our stores. So If I can give a percentage, I would say that 65% of our production is environmentally-friendly. We also use bamboo from time to time in our collection.

Jam: Long ago, we had this willingness to introduce organic fabric but it was pretty costly. Now, we produce some of our pieces in bamboo and we are truly eco friendly when working with dyers that provide us with natural colors with no use of chemical products. We never use synthetic materials, unlike some well-known brands in Bali. 

Do you have any references to specific fashion designers you’d love to share with us?

Jay: Our reference designers remain Yoshi Yamamoto and Rick Owen. We have a strong affinity and influence from both of them.

Jam: I would say Alexander McQueen since forever. McQueen created some sort of “out of this world” fashion, something beyond any boundaries, between dreams and imagination. We also have Jean-Paul Gaultier. In fact, in terms of creating art, with JPG, we are just somewhere else. JPG had a strong influence on me and when I was a teen, I was often photographed in the streets when being inspired by the French designer. When we talk about McQueen or Gaultier, we refer to the highest standards of fashion. We had Bowie in music, Victor Hugo in literature, and we have McQueen and JPG in fashion.

How is Bali deeply influenced in your creations?

Jay: Gingersnap can’t be dissociated from Bali. The brand was born here when Jam and I met some years ago. Gingersnap has a true Balinese soul. As one of the founders of Gingersnap, Bali will always have a strong imprint on our brand. I am a sacred dancer and I embody the true spirit of Bali. And with the final touch I bring to the design, I always convey my Balinese spirit. Jam also knows deeply about Bali as he fell in love with our culture. And when you wear Gingersnap, you’re not someone who specifies as American, European, or else. You wear something that’s truly defined within a Balinese spirit.

Jam: The “Bali touch” is truly through Jay who was for long a dancer in Balinese temples. He translates the realms of Balinese culture. Today he became a shaman, and as my artistic advisor, Bali is him. I’ve also noticed that Jay brings me the feminine inspiration I lack — as I carry more of the masculine energy. We are like the yin and the yang.

Describe the Gingersnap man, what does he do, who he is?

Jay: At Gingersnap, especially in 2020, there’s no boundary between men and women. We wanted to create a deep inspiring environment where both men and women could fit in the collection. Either way, if Gingersnap was a man, he surely would be smart, elegant, and sophisticated. 

Jam: The Gingersnap man is me. I wanted to create a transfiguration of the Gingersnap masculinity or character inside my clothes. These days, the Gingersnap man is trendy, in love with the “avant-garde” if I can use this terminology. I would say, he’s not Bohemian; he’s more urban and relaxed. He is all black-dressed, inspired by the mood of Japan. For instance, we have asymmetric T-shirts with stonewashed materials which gives us the avant-garde look.

How about the Gingersnap woman?

Jay: The Gingersnap woman seeks new adventures. She has learned to walk away from her comfort zone and is embracing freedom. The new collection is free of style and will inspire women in their quest for discoveries, encounters, journeys with such a new look. 

Jam: The Gingersnap woman is laidback, easy-going. I want women to learn how to express their sensuality without being too much. For me, it’s all about revealing some details that will entice men to know more. Indeed, women need to suggest, to seduce, but should never fully reveal their assets. A beautiful woman is elegant and knows how to dress well. And as a designer at Gingersnap, I’m fascinated by the style of Isabelle Huppert, Nathalie Baye, and Sophie Marceau who carry this ideal view of the sensual woman. The Gingersnap woman is also an intellectual; she is a smoker and a world-traveled person who needs to be light in her clothes in case she is flying to Venice or Hong Kong the following days.

If Gingersnap was a song or a music genre, what it would be?

Jay: For me, the typical music genre that could represent Gingersnap is something between rock and jazz.

Jam: Without any hesitation, I would link Gingersnap to Charlotte Gainsbourg and her project with electronic music. Deadly Valentine is a true reference for me. Like Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte’s music is timeless and so is Gingersnap. But the Gingersnap woman has also pop side. I used to love Clara Luciani who won twice consecutively at Victoires de la Musique in France. And lastly, I would say that there’s a Françoise Hardy touch in Gingersnap.

How do you imagine Gingersnap in the next years? Where would you like to be? Any new markets you’d love to explore?

Jay: My idea of Gingersnap deals with people who accept themselves and love to make a difference. Second, the new markets for us are Europe and Russia. So I imagine ourselves focusing more on these regions. Indeed, Europeans and Russians have more acceptance about upcoming fashion trends. They catch new codes quickly. As designers, we have to coach people. Yet Russians and Europeans truly know how to accept the new codes already 

Jam: These days, I’m busy with this topic: the future of Gingersnap. It’s a forever evolving process. I must confess that I’m less fascinated by the retail business. I truly believe that the future is through online shopping and mobile platforms. As for our plans, we will have a refreshed look and a new website for the beginning of summer 2020. We plan to focus on the online shop and to dig deeper into the Russian market. And if we still decide to develop some small boutiques, I’d see myself in Vietnam. Lastly, I believe there’s some potential to develop some pop-up markets in France. But let’s see what the future brings.

Written by : Angel Lebailly