Jasmine James got into thrifting while she was in college. She didn’t have a lot of money, but wanted to be stylish, so she frequented thrift stores and purchased vintage rap T-shirts along with sportswear from The North Face, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Nike. After coming across Round Two’s YouTube show in 2015, she realized how valuable her collection was and started to sell her pieces on Depop.
“I realized by watching the show that vintage is never going to die, but it has become very competitive and everyone is figuring out the market,” says James. “So for me, I wanted to create reworked garments out of my own vintage items and make something that’s still on trend but a little bit different from what everyone else is doing.”
This led her to introducing JJ Vintage, her line that includes patchwork tanks, skirts, and dresses made from thrifted clothes. She made her first patchwork tank top, which has become her signature, last year. James says she had a hole in her shirt, so she decided to cut it up and sew it back together using different strips of fabric.
“I didn’t think anything of it until I went to an event and everyone was asking me where I got my top from,” says James.
She started selling them on Depop, but sales spiked once Depop featured her on its IG page. James says she was receiving more than 200 DMs through IG and the Depop app.
James, who studied business management and entrepreneurship in college, taught herself how to sew in 2015 through YouTube videos. She’s created a signature look that focuses on colors, shapes, and making sportswear more feminine. James says it takes her about 30 to 45 minutes to create a piece. She starts by putting together different color combinations, cutting out the patterns, and constructing the garment. The items have a handmade feel with exposed seams, but strong construction.
“I’ve always been fascinated with color and being able to put together unexpected colors,” says James.
She sells these pieces, which retail from $55 to $95, directly from her website, and on Depop from time to time. She offers a specific amount of custom orders once per month too. Right now she isn’t working with any retailers, but says brands have reached out to collaborate.
“I want to make sure it’s the right choice for me before I make that decision,” says James, whose mission is to recycle, reuse, and repurpose.
Before the pandemic hit, James was in the midst of developing her own line, which was supposed to launch in late spring, but after the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, along with being furloughed from her job, she says she was unmotivated to do anything, but she’s still working on it.
“I want to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to fashion. I have a lot of unreleased designs that I’m excited to share,” says James. “I hope I can achieve expanding my brand and establishing a name for myself where everyone knows exactly who JJ Vintage is.”—Aria Hughes