A still from Jac Vanek’s new lookbook.
Photo: via Jac Vanek
Jac Vanek’s clothing label should come with fine print that goes a little something like this: “Warning, this t-shirt may cause a reaction.” After all, when you’re wearing a flannel splashed with “I Hate Everyone” on the back or a beanie with “Dude” lettering, what else would you expect? This is a brand stuffed with attitude, from her dripping grunge graphics to the words themselves, and they’ve got a bold and daring celeb fan base to match. Everyone from Demi Lovato to Miley Cyrus to Willow Smith has sported Jac’s comfy-cute wears, proving just HOW far the L.A. designer has come since she emerged on the scene several years with one “Ruthless” bracelet. We caught up with Jac yesterday to talk about concert-obsessed childhoods, ’90s resurgence, and what happens when you see your designs in the tabloids.
MTV STYLE: So take us back to the beginning…how did you first start out?
JAC VANEK: Basically it all started with the bracelets. I was really into concerts and immersed in the music scene growing up, and through that I had made friends with a bunch of musicians. From these connections I gained an online following, and after I first put out the “Ruthless” bracelet is when things started to take off. My friends started wearing them, and then I realized there was a demand.
When did you decide to branch out into clothing?
Well, back when I made the bracelets, I also made a shirt. It was really ugly, though, and covered in a gold teeth design, and obviously it didn’t sell that well [laughing]. So it was a few years later when I decided to do clothing for real; people were asking me to do t-shirts and expand, so that’s what I did!
How would you define the relationship between fashion and music in your brand?
My biggest passion is music, but I never thought I’d be in fashion! I don’t consider myself a fashionable person in the traditional sense; I walk to the beat of my own drum, style-wise. But once I started doing this, it morphed into a sort of natural progression. I’m just inspired by kids who love music and love going to shows and that whole world. The passion behind the clothes is totally music-driven, and I think people feel that right off the bat.
The label is really popular with celebrities…remember when Willow Smith wore your jacket?!
Yes, and I have no idea how Willow got the jacket! The comments on the photo were so funny; it was a bunch of moms being like, “How dare her!” “She’s a lost child!” I was like, “Dude, it’s funny. It’s not intended to be serious.” I make them to be snarky and light and fun. I was so excited to see Willow wearing it, though- most of the celebrities who wear the line are friends of friends, and I don’t know Willow…maybe she bought it herself? [Laughing] Either way, it was really cool.
Is there anyone else who you’re dying to wear your clothes?
I love Sky Ferreira so much, and I’m also obsessed with Grimes. I just think both girls are so cool and totally on my wavelength, and I’d be so excited if they wore my clothes.
What can you tell us about your new collection?
I’m basically stuck in the ’90s [laughing] and the fall collection is proof of that. There’s been a huge grunge revival through Tumblr and the internet and everything, and I feel like people are getting in touch with that time again. The collection is immersed in everything ’90s, from flannel to the ying yangs. So obviously it’s really angsty.