Joneien Johnson: Sometimes some crazy mistakes can turn into beautiful art

We have the pleasure to introduce you to Joneien, an incredible designer who sees fashion from a rather unique angle.

Today, she is sharing with you valuable insight on digital fashion and so much more.

Join us for this delightful journey.



When did you discover your passion for fashion?

I was born with it! No kidding. My mom told me my earliest example was when I was two years old and I tried to trade the dress I was wearing for one I wanted in the store. I literally took off my dress, hung it up on the low rack, and was trying to put on the new dress all while my mom was talking to the store owner. Of course, after all that, my mom had to buy that dress.


What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

I would say a combination of my fairy tale books with beautiful illustrations of princess dresses and Barbie who is of course a style icon. I would make clothes for her and my other dolls. It wasn't until I was around 5 years old that I learned designing clothing was something you could do as a job. My personal style and love for fashion was such a part of me growing up, it was only natural to start learning to sew and pattern making from age 13 in school, and by high school, there was no doubt I would study fashion in college.

How did your passion collide with digital fashion?

I have always been a tech nerd of sorts. My dad is an engineer and was always building & tinkering with computers. I grew up around that, but also showed a great interest in using the computer to design banners in the early days. My university was very focused on technology, so it was natural that the fashion program included incorporating computers in the education, so as I learned about the industry and professional pattern making I was also using Adobe Illustrator to draw flat sketches and Photoshop to design textiles.

I had seen examples of early 3D fashion, but I thought I needed a degree in game design and very expensive software in order to do it. But I discovered CLO3D about 3 years ago. It was accessible and easy to learn for indie designers like me. After the first session, I was absolutely hooked. Even though I have been sewing from an early age, I don't particularly enjoy that part, but I like the end results. Digital fashion opened a whole new freedom and joy to designing clothing. And best of all it doesn't require all the space traditional design takes with sewing machines, fabric, tools, dress forms, cutting tables...... I don't have the space for it, living in an apartment in Oslo.

Can you tell us more about digital fashion to help fashion enthusiasts understand it better?

Digital fashion is just like real clothing in many ways. It is made of cloth, sewn together, and fits the body, only it is all virtual. So instead of it being physically present, the computer calculates so that it drapes and fits like a real garment. But with digital fashion, there are no limits with the type of design, print, or size. It can be as realistic or fantastical as you like.

Sustainability is gradually becoming a priority in the fashion industry, what does sustainability mean to you as a designer?

I have been in the industry for over 15 years. At the beginning of my career, we didn't think much about sustainability and when the topic came up every Earth Day it felt like a selling fad. But more and more as I learned about the hidden side of the industry, worked with different suppliers, and met all walks of life, it became more and more important to me. It is about so much more than just saving the planet, but there is a very real human aspect as well. Unlike so many other industries that have become automated, fashion still involves a lot of handwork, even in fast fashion. Behind every clothing, the product is a human being with a life, family, a need to work but also a need to live and be treated with respect.

Do you think digital fashion can take over fast fashion in the near future?

I hope that it does. With digital fashion, the possibilities are endless. The only resources used are time and electricity, which when compared to traditional fast fashion is so much less. Digital fashion allows for more imagination and more variety. But there will always be a need for physical clothing for our physical bodies (unless we all plug into the matrix). If we can switch gears to use slow, artisan techniques for our physical clothing and take care of the items for years by mending them, then digital fashion can replace fast fashion to fulfill our need for instant gratification and constant change as human beings.

Where do you see digital fashion in the future?

Just like how using Illustrator to draw flat sketches became the industry standard, I see digital fashion replacing that and becoming the standard way to communicate your design. Digital fashion will be used in every aspect from ideation to production to marketing and even as the end product itself.

What inspired your beautiful collection?

I love architecture and the city of Chicago, where I come from. I started playing with the photos I had taken and came up with really cool glitch images. Then I designed clothing to go with the prints that evoked a futuristic feel. A cross between hard and soft, edgy but still feminine.

Can you tell us more about the process of creating your digital collection?

Along with the digital prints I created using Adobe Creative Suite, I actually used traditional flat pattern techniques but instead of paper, I used Illustrator to draw them. This collection happens to be the first I created in 3D 3 years ago, so I was actually learning CLO when I had created this collection. Having my patterns already created digitally, I then made the garments in the 3D program and I had the freedom to play with fabric combinations, editing the designs and getting the placement prints exactly right.

What would be your advice to upcoming digital designers?

I would say keep learning and keep challenging yourself. Often in our careers, in order to go further, you have to use words like an expert or proficient. I don't like to say this because I feel I am constantly learning. As the software updates become more complicated and more varieties become available, you can't stop re-upping your skills. Also, be patient. The road to the perfect digital garment can be a bumpy one. Sometimes you get some crazy mistaken results that can make beautiful art in itself, but if not just hit undo. And most of all, have fun with it.


Check out more of Joneien's amazing designs here.