We began with the intention to inspire consciousness in our everyday, to cultivate a culture that encourages others to uncover where and why something is made. Connected Clothing is a series of sustainable fashion interviews spotlighting on different individuals – why they wear what they wear and the significance behind their choices.
Jomaine Koo is a social media specialist by day, clay maker by night, and full-time creative at Average Jo. The need to make things with her hands and invest in her creativity has led to explorations in ceramics, graphic design, and clay necklaces. But today, her current attachment is ceramics. It’s a craft that she first got to know as a 10 year old in school, she did it for 3 years until the teacher left and there was no other means to continue it until her internship at Letter J Supply where she returned to the wheel. Her home is an assortment of colour and patterns: from the mismatched row of lamps, yellow painted walls, framed posters and comics scattered around the space, giant ear of bitten corn that functions as a stool, to the series of miniature homes arranged neatly on a shelf. Her home is a collection of things that feel eclectic and vibrant, and it’s all tongue in cheek, just like her wardrobe.
Read on to view our sustainable fashion interview with Jomaine:
You started Average Jo and went from clay necklaces, sticker illustrations, and now ceramics. What inspired the beginnings of this?
I always had the need to make things with my hands, and I decided to start working under the moniker Average Jo because I wanted a platform to share my work. When I was a little girl, I was brought up in an environment where art and craft was encouraged—from attending piano lessons since I was four, to ceramic classes in primary school, and even wearing clothes my grandmother made from cloth that she has kept since she was growing up!
Fast forward to 2014 after I finished university, it dawned on me that I have to think what my next steps were in life. The urge to create grew again; I knew I wanted to make anything from everything. I found polymer clay as an accessible material, that was also trending in Australia—Pinterest was literally flooded with these pretty and colourful jewellery. I made some, posted them on Instagram, some friends bought them and others encouraged me to sell them, and Average Jo came to life!
Do you still keep the pieces that your grandmother made for you?
I still have them, I can’t wear them anymore but I keep them in my room anyways. My grandmother used to make them when my sister and I were younger, all of our clothes were made from any remaining cloth she had kept for many years. I think there was even one skirt that I asked her to make when I was older, and I still hold on to that.
As an artist largely inspired by colours and patterns in the everyday, how does that influence your clothing choices?
I want to dress like a living walking rainbow! Any colour and pattern you can find in the spectrum, just throw it my way and I’ll make it work. I’m inspired by colours and I’ve always dressed so colourfully. It’s just something inside me that feels joy when I see colourful things. Even with things I design, like for my wedding from the stickers we had, collaterals I did, everything was filled with colour. The theme was 70-80s disco as an homage to all the vibrant and neon schemes. It’s the same with my home too! My home is as colourful as I can make it to be. If you take a look, you can see that there’s certain things I’ve mismatched on purpose. The lamps are all a different colour, the resting rooms have blue walls and living rooms are painted yellow.
What is your intention behind what you wear and what you buy?
I live by the motto “eat to live (sometimes too much for my own good), and not live to eat”. Simply said, it is of great importance that my clothes have the flexibility for some allowance, should I be summoned for a spontaneous Korean BBQ dinner or ice-cream date. So, yes, comfort is always first.
Tell me more about your closet.
I just moved into my current home a couple years ago, and when I was asked to design the wardrobe space, I knew I had to dedicate a spot specifically for my one-pieces. 80% of the time you see me, I will be in either a long dress or jumpsuit! In recent years, I try to be more intentional in my purchases, especially when I am aware of the increasing buy-and-throw-away culture our generation is practicing. To discourage myself from buying more, I ensured that the space for my one-pieces were limited. But now, my closet is quite stuffed, oops…
What would your ideal wardrobe look like?
To be honest, I’m quite content with how it is now! Maybe just if I were to redesign my closet space, I would make it 80% for my one-piece items, and 20% for the rest.
What is your personal style and how has that definition evolved over time?
It has come to a point where my name has been defined and termed as the adjective to my style, where friends would send me pictures of crazy outfits and be like “that’s so Jo”. To be honest, I’m not sure how to define my personal style either—I just really love colourful, loud and patterned clothes! Or whatever makes me happy at the sight of it.
If your house is on fire, what are the five pieces you would save – even if it meant running back into a burning house?
Wow, tough question… I’m so torn! Ok sorry to those that didn’t make it to the top 5, mama still loves you ok?
1. My Caramel and Co. wedding jumpsuit, for sure
2. My $10 Chatuchak vintage denim jumpsuit
3. My Lazy Oaf geometric fruit jumpsuit
4. My Gorman x Walala blue jumpsuit
5. My Nooworks salvation stripe jumpsuit
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
The way I dress is an important part of my life and it is my way of portraying myself, but I never knew my clothes were so important to me, up until the point when my husband accidentally made a hole in one of my favourite dresses and I was absolutely shattered. My husband was selling some car parts and seeing as he had already wrapped it up, I took it upon myself to carry them. Turns out, it was still dirty after they were wrapped and I had stained my dress. We tried using a scrub and stain remover but it ended up tearing my dress apart! Then when we checked online, it was sold out. My husband looked around alternative sites and found one more piece of it left in size M (I wore an S), and so he bought it and got the seamstress to size it down. Now, it’s a memorable piece and whenever I wear it I’ll remember that story. So.. I’d say I have a pretty tight relationship with my clothes.
Largely inspired by colours and patterns in the every day, Jo’s creations aim to bring about good vibes and playful times. The constant need to create with her hands results in a range of products—from clay necklaces, to sticker illustrations, and even miniature pottery wares. She also conducts polymer clay workshops in her home studio for fellow clay and colour enthusiasts. Find her on IG here and take a look at her website here.