In his first collection release of 2023, Rowena Social Club founder and creative director James Ford is taking our closets back to simpler times where we loved to get our hands dirty and leave our plates clean: Grandma’s house!
“You don’t associate ‘fashion’ with grandma’s sewing machine. But I like the aesthetics of the past, mixed with my sense of play and silliness. That’s where this collection came from: It’s grandma chic, plus a twist of lime,” shares Ford who competed on the second season of Netflix’s Next In Fashion and is eager to reveal the next chapter of Rowena Social Club.
“It’s all about simple cuts, but cool details. I want people to know that they don’t need that much. If you have 90 pieces in your closet and only 10 of them are good quality, you really only need those 10,” says Ford. “This collection has the staples you need, plus the hero pieces to make any outfit wild and funky. I’m not someone who takes myself or my fashion too seriously.”
Ford ensures that this collection’s simple design and attention to detail caters to both fashion enthusiasts and more importantly, those who have felt snubbed by high fashion. With 17 items ranging from tailored suiting to hoodies and accessories, I Am My Grandmother’s Kid is a collection for any occasion – and all identities.
“This collection is a complete closet for folks with any identity. Rather than saying ‘gender neutral’ clothing, I call it ‘gender equal.’ These days, you can’t look at any one piece and easily assign it to a menswear or a womenswear section,” he says.
“Lots of people try to do gender neutral clothing, but I haven’t neutralized anything. There’s cute heart buttons on a baseball jersey. Gender is freely shopped à la carte at Rowena.”
As a trans man and shopper familiar with the pains of fitting rooms and hyper-gendered clothing, Ford is no stranger to experiencing fitting problems due to the fashion industry’s patriarchal nature. “Crochet on workwear is exactly what you wouldn’t expect, and that’s what makes it really compelling,” adds Ford. “I feel like I put my favorite masculine traits, and my favorite feminine traits of clothing into a blender. I kept what I liked from both. I want the person wearing it to take a good look in the mirror, smile and confidently move on with their day. That feeling has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with wearing materials and aesthetics that make you feel cool, weird, and hot”.
Another thing Ford prioritized in the collection was building clothing sustainably with the future of our planet in mind. “That’s why I tailor a lot of my items to customers, and create small-batch designs with deadstock fabrics, buttons, and trim”, shares Ford. “There’s plenty of fabric headed to a landfill. I’m sure my design taste can spin it into something people need, and want.”
In a time where buyers expect new wearable trends more frequently than ever before, Rowena Social Club’s latest collection is designed to take away the pressure of finding what’s next. Instead, Ford encourages shoppers to remember the simple comforts, but have fun.
“Getting dressed is hard, shopping is harder. I hope to help alleviate that. I really want people to feel chic, playful and ready for compliments.”
“It’s a fun, all-purpose collection that’s manufactured by family-owned factories in Los Angeles. That’s why I wanted to nod to Grandma’s house. That place is full of nostalgia, home-grown vibes, and quality,” says Ford.
“There’s this love of newness that I’m disgusted by these days. We’re all sitting on gold mines from times long past: Go ask your grandparents what they know. What was their favorite jacket? Ask them the story of their wedding suit or dress”, Ford encourages.
“Since this is our first collection of the year and second in the brand, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to tell people, ‘This is me. This is what I believe in’. This is my journey thus far in a single collection, and it all began with a need to make clothes that I needed, wanted, and couldn’t find.”
The full collection will be available by Black Friday. Shop the collection at RowenaSocialClub.com. Rowena Social Club is a premier label founded by designer James Ford. As a trans-owned company, Rowena provides gender-equal and inclusive custom suiting as well as ready-to-wear pieces for all closets. Follow James Ford on Instagram @jamesdoinginsta and Rowena Social Club @rowenasocialclub.