Jacob’s debut collection draws on German working-class aesthetics, Jeff Koon’s pornographic Made in Heaven series and life’s small luxuries
- Who is it? Gerrit Jacob is a Berlin-based designer elevating German working-class aesthetics and notions of kitsch
- Why do I want it? Sustainably produced, conceptual menswear and womenswear that makes a political statement
- Where can I find it? Coming soon to gerritjacob.com
Who is it? “Class is a huge topic in my work and in my life,” says Jacob. “I’m completely obsessed with talking to people about where they’re from and how they grew up. It’s one of the big influences on how we see the world.”
Jacob grew up in Hamburg, far from the fashion capitals of London, New York, Paris and Milan – his first memory of fashion was seeing a sketch of Princess Diana wearing a one-shouldered blue Versace gown, in a book owned by his gay step-uncle. “I was your pretty standard arty, nerdy, drawing teenager,” he says. After realising that all of his favourite designers studied at Central Saint Martins, Jacob was fixated; his grandmother and great-grandmother saved up 15 euros each month for his driving license, which he then blew within a few months of arriving in London to do a foundation at CSM. “I didn’t realise how expensive it was going to be,” he explains.
After completing a BA in womenswear and an MA in menswear at CSM, with collections focusing on German suburban trash culture and the bleakness of suburbia, Jacob landed a job as a tailoring designer at Gucci (he had also previously worked for Martine Rose, Balenciaga and Yeezy). “The quality of everything there is insane,” he says of his time in Rome. “It was very important [at Gucci] to make everything feel really special, which is something I’ve kept from my experience there.”
Finally, in 2022, Jacob decided to officially launch his namesake brand, although he is not necessarily set on fashion forever. “Who knows what I want to be doing in three years? It might be something completely different.”
Why do I want it? Jacob’s debut collection, A Secret Between Us, hones in on notions of kitsch. “There was an emphasis on the small luxuries that you indulge in to keep yourself going,” he says. The small luxuries in question play out in the collection in subtle, quirky ways; pearls are used as buttons, the silky jacket and trouser combos are meant to mimic cheap satin bedding, and the airbrushed paintings on leather are inspired by paint-by-numbers kits (first designed for children, these kits are now part of a wellness trend).
Menswear and womenswear pieces have been seamlessly mixed together – “gender is not a huge consideration while designing for me,” says Jacob, while the collection has been sustainably produced; deadstock leather, secondhand denim and organic cotton have been used.
On the surface, A Secret Between Us seems humorous and full of self-mockery, but Jacob insists that his work is earnest – despite his frequent laughter during our phone call. He mentions the playful work of French artistic duo Pierre et Gilles – “they’re deadly serious about what they do. I feel the same way about my work as well. To me, it never feels ironic or funny. It feels sincere and honest.” Other references included the camp personal style of American actor Mickey Rourke, and Jeff Koons’ controversial, pornographic Made in Heaven series he created with then-wife Cicciolina. For those who believe in fashion’s political, playful potential, Jacob’s debut collection hits the nail on the head.
Where can I find it? Coming soon to gerritjacob.com