IN “TRIBE,” AN AMALGAMATIVE STUDY OF HISTORY, PSYCHOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY, SEBASTIAN JUNGER SCRUTINIZES AN INCREASINGLY ALIENATED WORLD, DOCUMENTING HOW INDIVIDUAL ESTRANGEMENT RUNS CONTRARY TO THE CONTINUED SURVIVAL OF SELF AND SPECIES. “INTACT COMMUNITIES,” JUNGER FINDS, “ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO SURVIVE THAN FRAGMENTED ONES.” BEYOND SHARING BASIC RESOURCES, THESE SOCIETIES — OR TRIBES — ENGENDER FEELINGS OF LOYALTY, BELONGING AND PERSONAL SIGNIFICANCE.
Since 2009, Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson have been systematically crafting a modern tribe built upon a love of yarn-dyed, woven textiles and a dedication to the holistic Kaizen philosophy of constant, continuous improvement. The pair’s women’s clothing line, ace&jig, is designed in the United States, then produced — from thread to final stitch — at a close-knit factory in India, where 90% of the workers are women, free childcare is provided and reclaimed water is used to grow organic produce for employees. But the brand’s communal mentality doesn’t stop there. Its distinctive garments, which draw inspiration from vintage cloths and contemporary travel, have correspondingly spawned an international tribe of ace&jig wearers who swap not only prized garments but also stories and support.
SHARE YOUR ORIGIN STORY: WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO OPEN YOUR BUSINESS?
We were working together in the fashion industry and had reached this point where we felt like we wanted to do things differently... to say NO to this ethos of "More! More! More!" and all things disposable. Something that truly felt right to us. We share a true love of textiles, so that became a natural starting point. We had already been collaborating for years, traveling for work and collecting scrap cloth, kimonos, rugs — all these rich wovens from all over the world. Creating our own yarn-dye woven cloth became our obsession, and in our own slow-fashion way it has grown into a project filled with the kind of soul we crave.
WHAT IS THE MEANING BEHIND THE NAME ACE&JIG?
We began ace&jig after the birth of our firstborns: Alice and James — ace&jig comes from their initials.
WHERE YOUR PRODUCT COMES FROM
YOUR FAVORITE PRODUCT
YOUR FIRST PRODUCT
A SONG THAT'S ON REPEAT AT YOUR STUDIO
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY OR ETHOS?
Like our Indian partners, we've adopted the Kaizen philosophy of always improving. We've grown and evolved since launching in 2010, and our collections have grown and evolved with us. We're always looking for better ways to design, to make, to run our business.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS, BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE?
Quality of life. Anything we want to accomplish for the business is measured against the impact it will have on our quality of life. As much as we are driven business women and entrepreneurs, time with kids and family always comes first. Finding balance is a constant struggle! When we think about ace&jig, it's all about doing things better, not bigger.
WHO MAKES YOUR PRODUCT
A SONG YOU LISTEN TO WHILE TRAVELING
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BASE YOUR BUSINESS IN NEW YORK?
We started ace&jig in New York because it was home. We'd met and lived there for years before starting the brand, and we based it in Brooklyn, where we both lived and were raising our families. In 2013, Jenna and her family moved to Portland, Oregon, and ace&jig became bicoastal. Both places have rich artistic communities, with a strong sense of social awareness.
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU HOPE YOUR BUSINESS HAS ON YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY?
Joy and connection. Women tell tales of how our clothing has brought them happiness or made their lives easier or more comfortable, how they feel good in our clothing, confident, comfortable, beautiful. People who love our clothing have an emotional connection to it. For many, there is a deep sense of nostalgia in many of our textiles. We're are also lucky to have a large and loyal following of women who have connected over their love of the brand and who arrange get togethers and swaps where they trade ace&jig clothing and give worn pieces a new life.
A SONG THAT SHOWCASES A STOP ON YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN
A LEADER YOU ADMIRE
A PICTURE FROM YOUR LAST INSPIRATION TRIP
BREAK DOWN YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN.
The manufacturer with work with is situated in India. Our cotton is grown in India and ginned, spun, dyed, and woven in India by technicians and artisans deeply skilled in the art of weaving. The cotton weaving tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. The factory is light filled and the owner employs 90% women and offers free onsite childcare and tutoring. Our fabrics are woven first on ancient handlooms, then once we refine and perfect the design they are made on larger mechanical looms. Our garments are then cut and sewn right there, with the same group of people. There is a tremendous amount of ownership and pride with the team in India that works on our fabric and clothing because they oversee the process from beginning to end.
The most unique thing about our supply chain is that we design and create all of our own textiles from scratch. The common practice in the fashion industry is to purchase fabric that is ready-made. Creating our own textiles is our passion and its also what makes our brand unique.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU'RE PARTICULARLY PROUD TO HAVE ACHIEVED THROUGH ACE&JIG?
The sense of community that has sprung up around the brand is amazing. Women helping women — brought together by a shared love of our brand.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR BUSINESS IN FIVE YEARS?
A better version of where we are today and still doing this thing we love.
THE LAST GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH YOU DID FOR ACE&JIG
ace&jig Adele. We loaned her a few pieces and are hoping she makes an appearance in them!
A MOVIE THAT ACCURATELY CAPTURES YOUR INDUSTRY
A SONG THAT EMBODIES YOUR BRAND