The Jack of Handmade
Driven by curiosity to tinker with the form of traditional pants, Jack Cavenaugh’s clothing borders on experimental.
By Isabella Waldron, Scripps College
Jack Cavenaugh, a freshman at Sarah Lawrence, has always had a passion for art.
This year, he decided to turn his hobby of sewing into a clothing company called Jack Made. Cavenaugh creates everything by hand, focusing on clothing that is modern, relatable and slightly out of the ordinary. I talked with Cavenaugh about creating the company, as well as what he imagines the future of fashion might look like, what his future might look like and what it is about design that draws him in.
“I’ve been making a lot of pants in my free time, and I just wanted to get them into the world. I was kind of bumming that I was making all this work, and it wasn’t going anywhere, just sitting in my closet. In some ways I started [Jack Made] to sell my art, and in others just to get it out of my closet.”
“I was a sophomore in high school, and I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across Bo Vu. He’s this LA designer who made these cool button-down shirts. I really wanted one, but I didn’t have $200 to drop on a shirt, so I used my little sister’s sewing kit. I took apart a dress shirt of mine, and used it as a pattern. So, I tried to reconstruct one of his designs and then make it mine.”
“Except for the Alexa design, I just made the pants for myself initially, so I got two models that were my same size. My friend’s a photographer and wants to get into fashion and design photography, so we set it up together. It was like right after winter break. I had a friend at Pratt, and some other friends in art school. I just spent all my time sewing, and I wondered if I should just be pursuing art school. So, putting stuff on my website was a reaction to that. I decided that I’m not going to go to art school; I’m just going to do my thing.”
“Technology is a big part of it. I couldn’t have done the photo stuff and gotten it onto an accessible medium without Shopify. It’s definitely been a help, but in some ways, I think that my sewing and stuff means a lot for me, so it’s not really as influenced by technology. What I do is I make what I would wear, and everything else is secondary to that, as opposed to people who are making clothes for a living. They think about what others want using the internet, but for me, I’m sewing what I want to sew, and that’s liberating.”
“[The reception] has been solid. I mean, I haven’t sold anything, but it’s been so nice to connect with my friends back at home and to say check it out. The feedback has been good, and I have a lot of support. It’s been so nice to get [my work] out in the world.”
“I think that as time progresses, and I keep on sewing and making new stuff, I’ll just update the website. Like if I’ve been making a bunch of jackets, then I’ll have another photoshoot and do that. It’s kind of as they come. It’s super freeform to match whatever I’ve been doing with my sewing.”
“My goal for the semester was to get [the website] up, and have it ready to go and ‘ship’ if I got in an order. I guess in the next half a year, I’m just planning on still sewing when I go home. Maybe when I get back to school around September or October, I’ll have enough stuff to shoot another lil’ something-something, but I’m feeling set for now.”
“Well, for the pants and the photoshoot, [my aesthetic] can be seen in how everything is all-black, with faces covered. It’s minimalistic and becomes all about the pants. I don’t know, I guess the aesthetic of my pants is that it’s weird—or not weird, but just a little bit off. I want the pants to make people go, ‘Wait, what…holy…’ Like, you can’t really see it in the photos online, but there’s a guy sitting there in the denim pair of pants. It just looks like jeans, but if you look at it closely, you can see they have two flies instead of one. Instead of the normal fly in the middle, there are two on the sides of the legs. So it’s stuff like that, just playing off classic silhouettes.”
“I think that a lot of fashion doesn’t [interact with other art forms] directly. If I saw a T-shirt with a poem on it, I’d be like, ‘That’s dumb.’ I think it [interacts] discretely. All art, in some way, interacts with the body—or a lot of it. Clothing does that in a very explicit way. So, in some ways though [clothing and art] are not explicitly relating or talking about the same matter, I think there are a lot of ways in which they can intersect.”