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Fashion Talk

Cary Vaughan & Jenna Wilson

Label - ace&Jig

We find inspiration from everything that is all around us

Ace&jig, founded in 2009 by Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson, is a Brooklyn and Portland-based brand known for its unique, yarn-dye woven textiles, crafted in partnership with Fair Trade Certified artisans in India. The brand focuses on creating joyful, seasonless collections with a commitment to ethical production and environmental sustainability. In a chat with Fibre2Fashion, co-founders discuss the process of custom yarn-dye woven textiles, Fair Trade certification, sustainability, and more.

Fibre2Fashion: How did your shared love of textiles lead to the founding of ace&jig?

Cary Vaughan & Jenna Wilson:

We met as interns at a brand and retail store called Language NYC, which was once in SoHo. We instantly bonded over our love of fashion and shared appreciation of textiles. After working together for many years at Language NYC and LaRok, we decided to branch out on our own after the births of our first children. Thus ace&jig, inspired by the initials of each of our first-born children (Alice and James), was born.


F2F: Can you share a specific moment or experience that inspired the creation of your own collection?


We love a good story. Textiles do that for us. They can recall places, people, plans and purpose. Why not create our own textile stories? When we started in 2010, not a lot of brands were designing their own woven fabrics on the loom. Our aim was to create effortless clothing and focusing on just yarn-dye wovens to let our creativity go wild, within a certain framework – dye from our own yarn-dye woven fabric designs. We travelled and searched all over until we found our partners, textile experts working on ancient handlooms in India, who could help us make our designs a reality.

F2F: Could you elaborate on the process of designing your custom yarn-dye woven textiles?


We find inspiration from everything that is all around us – the vibrant colours of a fall sunset, the vintage yellow of a metal lunchbox, a funny colour combo from one of our kids' drawings, the texture and pattern in the small lot of rags we bought from a rug salesman in Morocco (who was baffled that we wanted to buy his rags)....the list goes on and on!

We also have over a decade of our own textile designs to reference for colour, texture, weight, pattern, and hand feel. Additionally, we have small scraps collected through our years of travels that can serve as a jumping-off point or conversation starter. We play with colour, texture, hand feel, and construction for each textile and love creating textile ‘friends’ aka fabrics that can work together or complement each other.

F2F: How did you establish your Fair Trade Certified partnerships in India?


For both our US team and our manufacturing team in India, it has been a long-time mutual goal to become Fair Trade Certified. COVID-19 did delay this for us, but in 2022, ace&jig sponsored this certification for our partners, and together with Fair Trade USA we worked to certify our manufacturing. We are really proud of this feat!

This certification promotes and ensures sustainable livelihoods, employee empowerment and community, safe working conditions, and protection of the environment. As part of this certification, ace&jig contributes a premium for every item that has the Fair Trade Certified tag into a fund that is managed by a democratically elected council of factory employees. The employees then collectively decide how to best use this fund for their benefit. After our first year of premiums, we were delighted to hear that the employees and the committee voted to use the premium funds on personal sewing machines for the 109 employees involved!

F2F: What aspects of the multi-generational weaving and textile experts experience contribute to the uniqueness of ace&jig products?


Everything! We are deeply grateful that our partners bring their deep and rich understanding of the entire textile-making process – cotton sourcing, dyeing, spinning, warping, weaving, and more – to our process.

F2F: How does ace&jig ensure a limited environmental footprint in the creation of garments and textiles?


We strive to reduce and minimise our environmental impact in the creation of our products, and we encourage all practices that lengthen the lifespan of our clothing and reduce global textile waste.

Thoughtful purchasing ties into everything we do. We want our customers to make purchases they will keep for many years, repair or mend, pass down, swap, resell, or eventually thoughtfully recycle. We help them do this by offering a Take Back programme, hosting community swap events, selling patch kits, and taking responsibility for the end of life of our garments.

F2F: What challenges have you faced in the journey of establishing and growing ace&jig, especially in terms of sustainability and ethical practices?


Our ongoing internal mantra is “Good things take time”! We’ve been in business for nearly 15 years, and some of our goals have taken years to achieve. Along the way, we’ve learned to take pride in the process.

Our Regenerative Collection is a great example of this. The most recent iteration of this collection took over a year to create. It’s an incredible collection made of organic Kala cotton, naturally-dyed, and handwoven on frame looms. Each textile had multiple dye lots and variations, making every style unique. The process is truly part of what makes this collection so special.

F2F: What advice would you like to share with aspiring designers who want to launch their own sustainable brand?


Identify your brand values and goals and look for a partner (or partners) who share them.


F2F: How do you envision the future of ace&jig in terms of sustainability, ethical practices, and product innovation?


We will always be committed to creating timeless garments from our own woven textile designs and making them within our means. This commitment extends to supporting and nurturing our supply chain, partnerships, employees, and the Earth. We have some exciting plans for the future!

How do you envision the future of ace&jig in terms of sustainability, ethical practices, and product innovation?

Interviewer: Kiran Sahija
Published on: 16/02/2024
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