Kim Jones wears an earring from The Fore Series 000419.
May The Fore Be With You
INTERNET FAMOUS - Martin B. Yambao (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2018 - 12:00am

Digital creative Kim Jones brings you closer to The Fore, a design collaboration series and e-commerce platform for the conscious consumer.

Kim Jones is asking you to slow down. And she wants you to do it in style.

As a digital creative who approaches everything as a “singular” (a writer, producer, art director, stylist and photographer – self-styled in the most literal sense), a consummate fashion plate with high-profile collaborations all over the globe, and as an advocate for highlighting Southeast Asian creative talent for an international audience, there’s always a measure of intent in everything Kim Jones does.

And none more so felt than in her most recent venture, The Fore, a design collaboration series and e-commerce website providing a space for up-and-coming talent.

Collaborating on a series of modular earrings rendered in 18k gold-dipped plating, upcycled leather and cellulose, The Fore launches their first line with marine biologist turned noted accessories designer Ken Samudio.

“Every piece from Series 000419 [Kim Jones x Ken Samudio] was inspired by abstract expressionism,” says Kim. “We researched some of my favorite artists from the movement and tried to create these unique pieces that would remain with you, not unlike a sculpture or a piece of art.”

The Fore talks about creativity, above all. But it’s also a space that challenges our notions about consumption. With pieces ranging from P10,800 to P14,900 for a pair of earrings (challenging also to a great number of consumers, it must be said), Kim talks about the strategy behind it all. “It was intentional. I want this to be antithetic to the perpetuation of rapid consumption. There is value in the slow process of design. There is value in the employment of artisans. There is value in the support of emerging and established designers who produce their own pieces. It took us six months to create this collection and we want you to hold on to these for life.”

The essence of the series boils down to quality over quantity; one piece that lasts forever versus buying 20 that don't; how “slow” can ultimately be the better choice. It’s prioritizing products cut, sculpted, buffed and assembled by hands closer to home. “It’s not the same as fast fashion where the supply chain allows collections to be in store two weeks from its conception. The designs of Ken and I can’t be compared to that, and neither can their value.”

Four by fore: Each purchased pair from Series 000419 gives you four flexible pieces you can wear in seven different combinations.

The Fore isn’t offering anything new on its own, but what it does is re-framing the conversation we should be having about consumption. “We live in an age where most people want to stand up for something,” Kim tells YStyle, and we agree. If there exists more options to equate what one could wear with opportunities to do better, we’re all for that.

In this condensed Q&A with the almost singular medium behind her e-commerce venture, YStyle sat down with Kim Jones to talk origins, influences and how “conscious consumption” should be an idea worn closer on everyone’s sleeve. 

YSTYLE: You’ve said in interviews that The Fore is something you’ve been thinking about for a couple of years now. Can you tell us what informed your decision to produce a slower, more thoughtful e-commerce platform?

KIM JONES: There is just so much noise demanding our attention these days, it’s astounding. Having built most of my career within the digital space; my work gave me a unique perspective of its trajectory. I wanted The Fore to feel quiet and purposeful. I was so inspired studying human responses in spaces like galleries and museums, where oftentimes those ubiquitous handheld devices are prohibited. I felt like these spaces were a place you could switch off and consume a piece in its entirety, with little distraction and where more importantly this slowness is still greatly relevant. I just wanted to inject that into the fashion world.  

In the context of this project, who would you say are your influences?

I look up to businesswomen all around the globe, the likes of Sara Blakely, Livia Firth, Katrina Lake. I admire the chances these women took on problem solving and built thriving, sustainable companies. I reached out to all of them when I was starting The Fore. One replied and the advice has been invaluable.

Can you talk more about your choice of collaborators for The Fore? How do you select them?

We only do a maximum of four collections a year as the design process is extensive and our quantities are super limited. The designers I have lined up have an existing framework in place and are some of the hardest working, most dedicated people I know. They’re designing collections without fail despite a weaker industry-wide buying structure here, they’re creating or attending trunk shows all over the world, they insist on running a business with the utmost integrity and investing in knowledge and experience. I’m looking for people who offer something unique and want to contribute something different to this space. Collaboration isn’t easy but I’m looking for those who can see the benefit in co-creating something together.

Ken and I planned this limited edition collection excruciatingly. Each purchase gives you four pieces that you can exchange and wear asymmetrically or even attach to one another if the mood strikes. We wanted the pieces to be flexible, the plating is dipped in 18k gold and can be arranged to create over 7 different combinations with a single purchase.

Can you walk us through your collaboration process? What was it like producing Series 000419 with Ken Samudio?

It was a challenge. The merging of parties often is. But Ken and I both brought something different to the table and it was amazing to get to witness Ken’s design process so intimately. He doesn’t sketch — which I found really refreshing, it urges you to communicate with clarity — so the identity of our final products was often nebulous until we reached prototype stage. Most of our design process was completed online so every other morning I’d send and receive texts from Ken with revisions or ideas or cancellations or love heart emoji eyes.

Can you tell us about the woman? Who is the platform serving?

The Fore welcomes everyone. it’s not limited to the female market. There’s this wonderful shift happening where everyone, especially with the younger “pivotals” searching for meaning and looking to be a part of something bigger and that funnels down to how their purchasing behavior. There’s a story behind everything.  Through this collection with Ken in particular I want the world to know that Filipinos produce pieces of great quality. This is not a vanity project for me. This is about giving these designers (and yes, the Philippines) the platform they rightly deserve. Today, if you’re a brand online, you’re inherently a global brand and I want people to know what we’re capable of.

Photos by RALPH MENDOZA Produced by DAVID MILAN

Can you tell us about The Foreword? How do you see The Fore championing “different versions of success” or functioning as a space for community building?

There have been many ideas, as a woman, that have popped up in my head that I wanted to challenge. The Fore, which is an excerpt from the idiom “to bring to the fore” means to highlight and that is the core of the brand ethos. The meaning of success to me has been molded by a select few and we live in an age where advocacy is apparent in almost all aspects of life. With all the noise we contribute on social media I felt, very personally, that there should be more conversations about struggles, advocacies I was unfamiliar with or just featuring bad ass opinionated people who I could really relate to online. I want this to be the first of many conversations.

You’ve mentioned using The Fore as a platform to promote up-and-coming Filipino talent, what would you say is your biggest dream for your collaborators? five or 10 years down the line?

While the Philippines is a huge part of my DNA (literally and figuratively) and I feel a great deal of gratitude toward my home, this platform is welcome to creatives, designers and entrepreneurs all around the globe. The Fore really poses the question of how we can support slow fashion and this was born out of a desire for me to see more options  — especially from people with a digital audience. If I’m being completely candid, I just had such a strong opinion that places like this should exist. That’s why I haven’t had time to even brush my hair in two weeks  — I’m hell bent on making this a success for many.

What’s next for The Fore?

I’d love to say something super inspiring right now but as I have no partners or investors, after we launch I’m going to take a day or two off. I’ll probably finish reading Women Who Run With The Wolves, or something that makes me feel cultured after being attached to my laptop for the past six months. After that, we move forward with the second and third limited edition collaborations for the Christmas period. We’ve slowly been crowdsourcing what items customers would like to see from us and from which designers, here and abroad and I see us launching RTW in the near future. Right now we’re focused more on size-agnostic pieces to test the market and evaluate the response while building brand awareness and focusing on community building events like #TheForeword.

* * *

Series 000419 [Kim Jones x Ken Samudio] is available online at www.thefore.com

KIM JONES
Philstar
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