How _J.L-A.L Redefined Functional Fashion

While COVID-19 was rewriting the rules of the world, a young designer had begun writing his own. Six months before the pandemic hit, Jean-Luc A. Lavelle completed “An Introduction to Sewing”, a simple course which bridged the gap between his knowledge of graphic design and his passion for fashion. As lockdown kept the world indoors, Jean-Luc dove further into his passions, showcasing his new prototypes and designs under the unique moniker _J.L-A.L_.

With each design, the line between Jean-Luc as an individual, and “_J.L-A.L_” as a brand began to blur. With the one-man operation beginning to find its feet, each release became a representation of Jean-Luc’s character and values. As a British designer, his view on fashion would differ from his counterparts around the world. Here, fashion would need to be functional. It would need to withstand the unpredictability of the Great British weather. It’s a challenge many designers have swayed away from, but for Jean-Luc, this was building functional fashion like we had never seen before.

If you’re designing the future, mood boards are futile. The real work happens in the lab, and for Jean-Luc, this was the case. Using the innovative 3D fashion design technology “CLO”, _J.L-A.L_ was able to cycle through several iterations of potential designs in quick succession before landing on the final outfit. This small fledgling business had time on its side, where it could design and create several months quicker than a global retailer, who often take more than a year to go from design to shelf. But for  _J.L-A.L_, by the time you’ve seen their new season, rest assured they’ve already designed the next.

A design process means nothing without creativity and risk-taking. For _J.L-A.L_, each of their designs has been crafted to take on the elements, and maybe much more. It was this bold risk-taking that enabled them to gain the attention of both ROA & HOKA ONE ONE in quick succession, two leading footwear brands who provide the kit for those willing to push their own boundaries. Footwear is one of the most difficult segments to break into in the fashion industry because of the high-level of expertise required to succeed here. But _J.L-A.L_ walked into it almost immediately after their inception.

In an industry plagued by fast-fashion, pace is a divisive capability. It is speed that makes it available to exclusive retailers like SlamJam, but if it's created using an unsustainable process, it only leaves a dangerous trail for the next generation as a result. For _J.L-A.L_ however, many of their items source materials from high-quality local deadstock. Not only does this practise the concept of regeneration, but it also helps each item tell a story. When you buy_J.L-A.L_, you buy it to last. These items have proved that already.

For their most recent release, Fall/Winter 23, _J.L-A.L_ have charted a new direction. The shots above depict a moodier aesthetic than we’ve seen before, where models look longingly in the distance, dreaming of their next escape into the unknown. Once kitted, they can chart their own path, with each image serving like an ID badge in case they never return. Wearers are prepared for a mission they will only discover on the journey itself. Whatever the terrain, these new season releases from _J.L-A.L_ provide not only the protection for the experience, but also the inspiration to get out there.

Despite launching back in 2020, _J.L-A.L_ are still the ones to watch in the highly-competitive British fashion market. From the days of Jean-Luc’s personal Instagram page through to the present day, we have seen a consistent message from the brand. They are building outfits for the resilient, and that means they’re here to stay. 

Photography by Shift Studios
Styling by Graeme Gaughan
Worn by@Kaia1o