Fashion Revival

J-ANT is a revival of the past mixed with a contemporary consideration of the planet’s future. This edgy, local brand by Jessica Antonio is one to watch for the future.

WORDS Sarah Ann Murray

Imagine starting your own fashion label from scratch, entering into the world of luxury fashion houses that line dazzling streets like the Champs Elysée, Bond Street or the Avenida da Liberdade. Daunting, you might think. Now imagine creating your brand with a hardened commitment to sustainability and unyielding fashion ethics, all while using traditional craftsmanship techniques. Fortunately for Portuguese fashion designer Jessica Antonio – and the environment – this challenge is what drives her unique brand of bespoke, hand-crafted designs.

From her studio in the Algarve, Jessica describes J-ANT as a ‘slow fashion’ brand, the antithesis to society’s consumption of fast fashion. But there’s nothing slow about her devotion to conscious creativity. Her expertise lies in her intricate knowledge of textiles, not only how to re-imagine, manipulate and create unique designs, but also how to use recycled materials, such as fabric cutouts, secondhand clothing, unwanted duvets and linens, and what is known in the industry as, ‘deadstock’.

The fashion world teems with warehouses filled with rolls and rolls of fabric and landfills overflowing with throwaway fashion trends, discarded, sometimes after one use, some having never been worn. Think about how many unworn pieces we all have in our wardrobes right now. 

As waste becomes a serious issue in trend-driven fast fashion, these fabrics, often in smaller batches, are slowly becoming more accessible. In the hands of creative visionaries like Jessica, offcuts and quality unwanted materials can be revived and recycled to create one-off designs or limited collections. Jessica is a keen adopter of the conscious approach to design and will often re-use left-over materials from one garment to create something new, constantly working to minimise waste.

It requires innovation to work this way, and Jessica brings a major talent for textiles to each and every exclusive design. Whilst her handmade techniques may feature the highest level of traditional craftsmanship – embroidery, smock, and silk-printing, to name only a few – Jessica’s designs are far from ‘traditional’. Described by British Vogue as exclusive, edgy casual wear, J-ANT designs are a striking mix of feminine, contemporary, bold silhouettes rich in detail and playful textures. Picture soft layers of silk, adorning oversized, comfy, generous jackets in natural, tonal fabrics and hand-woven, open-weave, loose crochet dresses from her new collection, which is launching this month. It’s streetwear with a romantic touch.

By developing her brand within Portugal, with each one-off piece produced in-house by hand, ethical fashion can remain at the core of her brand.

Portuguese brands, designers and manufacturing have grown rapidly over the last decade and Portugal is now considered one of the key countries in the world for fashion production, partly because of its reputation for quality but also its integrity to seek out sustainable production choices.

It’s up to us to nurture home-grown talent as they proudly fly the flag for Portugal and ethical fashion; Portugal’s past is fashion’s future.

Sarah Ann Murray is a fashion direct​or, stylist & journalist www.

J-ANT has been selected as one of the exhibitors to be part of the LocalARTE exhibition and will have two artworks hanging there until the 19th of March 2022 at Centro Cultural de Lagos.


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