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Leather is taking over the luxury market, and so is designer Jonathan Marc Stein’s 2-In-1 trench coat

Jonathan Marc Stein, the 27-year-old engineer turned fashion designer, has unveiled his latest design that can be described as an “innovative (and elite) solution”.

Jonathan’s approach to design is influenced by his past degree in mechanical engineering along with his family history of seamstresses, tailors, and luxury department store designers.

Using his intersections between the two worlds, Jonathan hand-crafts his pieces including his latest design, the leather trench.

JMS’s newest release is a luxuriously chic leather trench and a leather jacket. This piece is a 2-in-1 that’s made of ethically sourced, and sustainable leather with crisp gold hardware. The JMS trench turns into a crop in just a zip, answering every coat lover's dream.

JMS has a big year ahead. What’s in store for 2023 that's different from where your brand has been previously?

Since I began, I only produced one-offs of each look. This will be the first year that I will small batch the latest collection to be available to my clients and to the public! I will be openly expanding my company and prioritizing sustainability and inclusivity within fashion on a bigger scale.

Who is the ideal JMS consumer? How do you imagine their lives and self-worth are elevated when wearing a JMS original piece?

When I created the eponymous JONATHAN MARC STEIN Atelier brand, I always had a single goal in mind: to evolve the fashion industry into one that allows for inclusivity across all spectrums. When I dress a client, I hope to see that bright smile across their face as they realize how amazing they look and feel. Fashion has always been an industry that is one-faceted in the fact that there is only one type of person that can wear the clothing. Each piece that I create is a personal experience for every client and I hope to make them feel amazing in their own skin and elevate the way that they feel about themselves.

Image: Supplied

Tell us about how your engineering background allows you to view fashion through a different lens.

I got my BA in Mechanical Engineering with Honors while attending university. I was more on the design side of things. Many that I talk to try to find the correlation between the two, but there are actually so many similarities between fashion and engineering. There is often so much math in the measurements to create a garment as well as understanding the structure of a piece of clothing. Understanding structure is an integral part of both industries. By including math and turning raw materials into a refined piece, are the building blocks of both fashion and engineering.

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer? What motivates you to continue creating when it gets difficult?

I actually did not! When I was young I knew I wanted to do something creative with my life. First it was an artist, then it was an architect, next an engineer. When ultimately my love for fashion happened my sophomore year of college while completing my engineering degree. I saw a runway show on youtube while waiting for a class to start. I believe it was a 1990-something Alexander McQueen show. From there, I knew without a doubt this is what I wanted to do with my life and then taught myself how to sew. The career often comes with obstacles or aspects that make me wonder why I chose this line of work, but the hope that I can eventually evolve the industry into something that is more inclusive makes me want to work even harder to achieve my goals.

How do you work through creative ruts/road blocks and continue elevating and pioneering fashion?

Answering this question is actually quite hard. Often, these ruts can last days before I have the confidence to complete a piece or even collection. I have to wait until the inspiration strikes or my mood is one that is conducive to creating. I run many ideas I have by my team until something sparks my creative juices. Sometimes, the stress or length of the deadline motivates me to finish. One could say I thrive on stress!

Image: Supplied

Leather is having a moment that will take us into 2023, and you're right on the forefront of the trend. Walk us through the process of creating your leather trenches.

Obviously, the first step was coming up with the idea and a sketch of how I envisioned the piece to be. Then I scoured the fashion district of Los Angeles for leather that was both beautiful to look at, durable, but most importantly sustainable. From there, I created a mock up using a fabric that was both stiff and malleable like the leather I wanted to use for the actual sample. This was then cut up and laid flat to use as the basis for the pattern and from there I corrected lines, seams, and measurements to allow for a clean-cut garment. Once each pattern piece is complete, they are put on the leather and lining and cut. Sewing the pieces together is actually the quickest part of the endeavor. While this was being completed, I used my CNC machine to cut out the letter design I made on my computer from solid brass blanks. These are then refined and hand polished until I am satisfied with the results. From the base leather piece, the metallic zippers, snaps, and other embellishments are added to the piece and VOILA! Finished and refined leather trench coat exclusive to the JMS brand.

The trenches are transformable, can be dressed up or down, and truly offer something for everyone. How do you go about making such adaptable staples?

Wanting to create something new or revolutionary within the fashion field is always a feat to overcome. Something to distinguish you from all of the other amazing talents in the industry can often be challenging; trends would not be there if designers did not take inspiration from others. Fashion is constantly evolving and becoming more intricate or technology-based. I hope to be on the forefront of these innovations. By creating a convertible jacket, one could pack multiple looks within the same piece. Wear the cropped moto jacket while soaring the skies to your destination, and zip on the bottom to transform your look for going out. If you’re into fashion like I am, I am sure you are constantly changing your outfit 3 times before leaving the house!

Working with leather isn't easy. Who are some of your leather muses in the industry, and/or where do you seek inspiration from in the wider community?

Working with leather can be quite a drag. One small mistake can lead to me having to start over as it is not forgiving or self-healing. Like any designer, I often take inspiration from the world around me. The structure of a cool building, a piece of greenery, or even an individual that I adore. Alexander McQueen and Dion Lee have consistently produced leather pieces that I have been in awe of as I began my journey as a designer. I can only hope to live up to the art that these amazing designers have created.

When you're designing - and truly building - in your studio, what's your process? What are you listening to, wearing, eating, who is helping, etc? Take us inside your headspace.

Working in my studio is quite a process, however, not all of the magic happens there. A lot of my best ideas and sketches are when I am in bed and cannot sleep in the middle of the night. When I wake up, I will take this idea into my studio and begin on the pattern. Sometimes, I will base the design off a fabric or material I found while out in the city sourcing. Once I am in the zone, I usually lose track of time and sometimes even forget to eat until I accomplish what I came down to do for the day. This will often lead to me becoming frustrated that I cannot create what was in my mind. Sometimes there will be tearing up the fabric, or seams that I mismade. It often comes with the territory of any creative industry as I will constantly change my mind of the garment I am trying to produce. Eventually, I will have produced a piece that I am truly happy with as a smile encompasses my face. When creating, I like to listen to music that goes along with how I am feeling. Usually, an upbeat pop song does the trick when creating edgy vibrant looks. I love how versatile leather is. It can be stiff and structural or even soft and delicate. I have an amazing team, but the one person who deserves the most credit is my amazing manager and mother. She is often in my studio there for mental support or even will jump in and cut pieces out for me so they are ready at the next step.

It's the top of the year and we're still manifesting - who would you love to see rocking a JMS trench?

There are so many talented individuals that come to mind as a dream client. However, there has always been a top spot for me: Zendaya! I do not even have to think twice about it! Time and time again she has proven that she can pull anything off with elegance and sophistication. Not only is she extremely successful with all she does in life, she has remained true to herself and consistently been kind to everyone around her.

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