Behold the latest project from the bold and brilliant Understated Leather, “The Zodiac Collection,” – a collection of custom-made leather jackets by Jennifer Kassell and husband Josh Jones featuring each star sign of the Zodiac. Every piece contains unique elements of engraved leather patches and aluminum, hammered rivets that replicate the constellation of your sign of choice and original typography designed by Pen Hearts Paper. This is NOT just a leather jacket. It’s a declaration of your unique brilliance. Modeled by the veteran Australian bombshell, Jessica Gomes, each of these jackets is carefully hand crafted one at a time with delicate and finite precision.
This incredibly innovative idea not only had me side glancing my wallet (I mean just LOOK at these pieces!) but it also really caught me off guard. It’s not often one encounter’s a lookbook with such a distinct thought process and meticulous detail behind it. Given the circumstances I decided to turn this feature into a full on interview because that’s what these hot commodities deserve. I spoke with Jen to gain some exclusive insight to the back story and inspiration behind The Zodiac Collection.
LF: Tell me a little bit about you and Josh! Your story is so cute and inspiring!
JK: That is so crazy to hear. I am originally from Australia – Josh and I met in New York when I was living there, we were long distance for over two years once took a job in LA. Life had its own plan for us, we had no idea that we were going to start our own thing. It all just happened quite effortlessly which was the way we needed it to.
LF: What has been most challenging and rewarding about starting your own business together?
JK: We were married the same day that we started our business, can you believe that? Not to sound like a Hallmark card but we feel so incredibly blessed that we get to work together and be creative all the time. The support we have felt from our friends and family has quite literally changed our lives. We built our brand on a foundation of love because love alone was all that we had in our pockets. This love has now spread through the veins of our company, so much goes into every single piece that we make. I sometimes watch Josh work all night on a tiny detail for a customer, he just cares so much. We consider our pieces to be a way to connect and celebrate the incredible individuality of our customers.
There is something extremely rewarding in that.
LF: How did Understated Leather come about? Tell me about the inspiration and thought process behind it.
JK: Our brand honestly started by accident.
When we reach a certain age we start to question things, we try to figure out what is it that we truly want in our lives and what is missing. I had been pondering that thought for a few years while working in the fashion industry in Australia, New York and LA. When I met Josh he had recently stopped the clock on his art career and was spending time experimenting and seeking inspiration in new techniques, and I was really drawn to that freedom – it was not something that I have ever given myself.
He developed a unique way to engrave highly detailed images into the surface of leather- suddenly we could feel an image in an organic material which was mind blowing for our inner artists. We started collecting cool vintage jackets and re-working them. Then we launched our website and hoped that people would like what we were about.
We had no expectations at all but we certainly gave it everything that we had because we finally found something that we wanted to build together.
It has been a really incredible ride and we are so humbled by the support.
LF: Pen Hearts Paper, first of all – wicked feature to these jackets! How did they get involved?
JK: She is so talented. I hit up Sarah to create our logo, it wasn’t until then that I realized that she hand-painted all of her worked in Bondi Beach, Australia, which is actually where I grew up! We quickly realized how connected we were and how serendipitous it was that I was randomly contacting her from Texas when just two years earlier I lived a few blocks away from her. We soon discovered just how beautiful her typography looked engraved in the leather and on to the metal patches. We developed the idea of the Zodiac collection together. It’s been incredible working with her and we have become good friends.
Josh and I want to use our brand as a platform for other brands – we want to work with people on interesting and exciting projects. Its not just about fashion, its about creating something that inspires people.
LF: Can you tell me how The Zodiac Collection was dreamed up? Was this something you wanted to do for a while? It’s a pretty unique idea!
JK: How did you know? I have been wanting to do a Zodiac calendar lookbook for years. Maybe because I am a Leo and we tend to be pretty proud of that fact for some reason? Josh and I have been highly interested in Astronomy-based photography for a while now; I think it is just the fusion of something that I have always wanted to do and our newfound obsession that tied it all together. I mentioned it to him in passing and he suggested incorporating little rivet areas like a studded tattoo of the star constellation on each jacket to reflect the sign. We have been working on this collection for 7 months. I saw some Zodiac influences at Paris fashion week a few weeks ago which was a massive relief!
LF: How do you want people to feel when they wear your leather?
JK: This is a special question. I asked Josh for a direct answer as he makes everything with his own two hands. “We want our customers to feel like they are the only one. We want to give them something unique and badass that connects with them. We want the jacket to feel like an extension of who they are.” I think he summed that up pretty well.
Shop the collection here