Meet Jingjing Fan, the Founder of Elleme, Fashion’s Hottest Bag Label Right Now
Jingjing Fan founded Elleme (derived from the French phrase “elle aime”, meaning “she likes”) in 2015, and the label has since gone from strength to strength—it’s now stocked at more than 65 stores around the world, including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Fan recently launched Elleme’s first ready-to-wear collection for fall-winter 2021.
How did you first realise you wanted to work in fashion?
My background is in political science, but right after my graduation from the Paris Institute of Political Studies, I was at a point in my life when I was asking myself what I wanted to do and discovered that fashion was what made me happy. It’s the best feeling to be able to create products that people love, and I enjoy the whole process, from the challenges and struggles to the successes.
What was the first roadblock you had to overcome?
Definitely finding the right partners to bring my creations to life and at the quality I required. During my first collection, we didn’t have the quantities to make it worthwhile for the factories to produce our products, so I had to convince them to take me on based on the vision and potential I had. My husband and I drove across 11 provinces in Italy in search of a manufacturing partner. At some point we got lost and asked for directions from a gentleman named Francesco at a gas station, who happened to be the owner of a factory. Up to this day, he is one of our most trusted manufacturing partners.
What was your first job and what was the experience like?
I do not have a formative education in fashion. I was self-taught, from drawing to pattern making, so it was all trial and error for me. My process is very hands-on, with lots of physical adjustments on the samples and mock-ups. I always design with the end-user in mind, imagining how they would feel and look with our products.
When was the first time you realised your brand was getting attention?
I’d have to say seeing our handbags sell out rapidly during our early days on Shopbop gave us a lot of confidence. Becoming the best-selling handbag brand at Harvey Nichols in London in 2018 was another milestone for us. Spotting celebrities and icons such as Beyoncé, Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid using our bags in their personal lives was another turning point for us.
Tell us about creating your first ready-to-wear collection—any surprises?
Creating my first ready-to-wear collection was all about having fun, despite all the stress and sleepless nights that came with it. It’s definitely much more complex than designing handbags or shoes, and involves handling different materials, sizing, fitting and suppliers. I’m glad that I started designing this collection during the lockdown in Paris, which allowed me to slow down and take my time to reflect on the concept. I’m surprised by the huge workload and the amount of people involved to bring it to life and make it a success.
Who was the first celebrity you dressed?
The first celebrity that we saw with our design was Priyanka Chopra. She used our signature Raisin bag and looked stunning. I still remember the moment we got tagged on Instagram. It was late at night, I was about to go to sleep, and my husband and I just started jumping around in disbelief.
Where is the first place you look for inspiration?
Whenever I feel the need for inspirations or fresh ideas, I go out for a walk around town. Paris is inspiring for me, with its breathtaking architecture, endless artistic and cultural activities and, most importantly, the people who come from all around the world to visit.
What is your next goal?
I’m already working on our spring-summer 2022 collection—it’s very exciting. I want to communicate a message of positivity and hope for the public. Ultimately, I hope to build Elleme into a brand known for its designs and quality across all fashion categories.
Related: The Best Looks From Menswear Spring/Summer 2022: Giorgio Armani, Prada and More