In this exclusive interview, Luxurious Magazine delves further into that tribute, from Gale’s inspirations, the origins of the JAMAH name, how they came to acquire such a notable celebrity following to what makes JAMAH’s exquisite bags unique.
LM: What are the origins of the JAMAH name?
Although Nancy Gale is a great mainstream media name and great for the non-profit, it didn’t resonate for the luxury line.
I came across it in a book called Origin of Words. I loved it and started researching it. In every culture I found, it was representative of something equating to ‘comfort’ in one form or another. In Africa, there’s a park called Jamah Park and it represents ‘freedom.’ In Arabic it’s ‘togetherness’. In Buddhism and Swahili it represents ‘to be’. All these definitions struck a chord with me, I’m a strong believer in ‘be who you are’.I love that everybody asks what the name means and where it came from.
I love that everybody asks what the name means and where it came from.
LM: How would you describe the brand’s style?
I would say classic with a modern, sophisticated twist. There’s really something for everybody. I work primarily with Italian lambskin. You can take the same bag and craft it in two different ways, using distressed or smooth lambskin, one will appeal to your sophisticated sixty-year-old Grandmother and the other will suit her hip 25 year old granddaughter.
LM: What makes JAMAH’s products unique?
I have somehow managed to do different without being scary- according to my customers. Often when a brand goes ‘different’ it appears like something off a runway and nobody will wear it. A bag is a bag and when I look through everyone else’s collections they’re all variations of the same thing- because that’s what sells. But I’ve gone one step beyond that I think. For a long time I didn’t carry a handbag, it makes me a very unbiased designer. My bags look like art and feel like comfort.
Take my men’s collection, when I see male models wearing the JAMAH bags, it just looks so fantastic. There’s nothing runway about it, it’s just pure comfort.
We’re now personalising the bags, which is really cool. We had one customer who called wanting to purchase a bag for his wife, who had a really tough year and a half of chemotherapy. There was a special something he’d say to her every time before she’d go for treatment. So we wrote that out, embossed it in leather and stitched it inside the bag.
You know when you’re at a concert and you feel like the music is being played just for you, that’s how I want people to feel about their JAMAH bag. That they know it’s made for them and that they’re investing in a culture.
LM: Talking of your menswear collection, I noticed Channing Tatum is a fan and you have a notable celebrity following, how did this come about?
I had some bags in Fred Segal and some other boutiques when I started the brand. I received a call from a stylist one day saying she’d seen some of the bags and wanted three for Brad Pitt, actually four. Three for the movie in case they were damaged and one for Brad himself. Then she said they wanted to pay for them, which is pretty unheard of over here.
After making the bags, I dropped them off at the studio and thought to myself, “that’s that.” Then I got a call from Warner Brothers asking me to do personal Christmas gifts for Clint Eastwood. His assistant and the other girls in the office also wanted to take a peek at the line.
So we end up all sitting on the floor looking through my bags. This man walks past and exclaims that Angie should see the bags which at the time means nothing to me. A moment later a woman comes over asking if she can take the bags to Miss Jolie. She came back shortly thereafter and said Angie wanted to buy nine bags. She had recognised one of the bags Brad had and wanted a smaller version.
About a year later, I began to see a great deal of press with Brad carrying our bags around everywhere and then I received a call from store saying Channing Tatum had been in with a picture and he wanted the bag Brad Pitt was pictured with. It was quite incredible!
LM: What inspires you?
I would say people inspire me and dreaming inspires me.
LM: Have you got dreams for the future?
I dream that my brand and non-profit will be associated with a movement. A movement where brands and causes are intrinsically connected.
My dream for the brand is that when people mention the big houses 20 years from now JAMAH’s name is one of them.
My personal dream is that one day there’s a young man or woman who’s striking out and wants to create a luxury brand and a non-profit and someone comes to them and says: ‘oh no no no, you’re doing it all wrong, this is how Nancy Gale did it’ and they say ‘to hell with Nancy Gale I’m going to do it my way’- that’s my dream.
LM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Be conscious of being conscious.
LM: How important do you feel it is for luxury brands to embrace charity?
I can’t describe how important it is. I believe that when you’re driven by a cause everything changes. It gives you an authenticity.
We as a society need to begin embracing our pride and riches. I had a conversation recently and someone said you don’t want anyone to think your non-profit is helping your brand and I said why not? What if our cause helps our commerce and our commerce helps our cause? We can provide more jobs at the very least.
I think we’ve gotten away from being proud of what we have and being able to say I can work hard and spend a buck anyway I want to. The more we embrace cause and commerce the more cause and commerce can progress.
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