Some people would say that the world of fashion has little impact on social and cultural movements. But I think it’s clear that Jack Tar does represent an intersection between style and substance. What statements are you making with the blog?
The world of fashion has everything to do with . . . how people, women in particular, view themselves, and even though it is often subliminal or craftily disguised, every image we see is designed to perpetuate a specific standard of beauty. Only in recent years, particularly since the internet has become a platform where social movements can really gain traction, has it become clear that not everyone has been claimed by the notion that beauty means being X, Y, Z, and never A, B, or C. Jack Tar operates on the idea that beautiful people are far more varied than mainstream media portrays. Actively capturing and expressing the beauty and authenticity in each of our models supports the expansion of socially agreed-upon standards of beauty. Beauty encompasses an unending spectrum of sizes, shapes, skin tones, genders, sexualities — any category you can name that is typically associated with “fashion model” — beauty is so much bigger than that. We don’t expect to change how the entire world views beauty, but by doing this work we hope that people will contemplate and embrace a broader sense of beauty in the people around them. And from there, for every person to feel they have the right to demand more variety in the people featured in the media, from magazines to movies to blogs. Seeing people like them, like you, like us, portrayed alongside the “beauty standard,” not only gives people permission to express their own beauty and style with authenticity and confidence, but it makes the world more awesome. And who doesn’t want that, really?
What do you love most about Maine and about being a designer and artist in Maine?
I’m obsessed with everything Maine. There’s a certain amount of pride one feels being from this state. I remember as a teen I was in a town north of New York City, and the man at the gas station asked where we were from. When we said “Maine,” he said, “Where’s that, Canada? Never heard of it!” So there’s this part of me that feels like Maine is this well-kept secret, full of history, now bursting at the seams with artists, queers, music, food, social-justice movements — so much to be proud of. The inspiration I collect and that feeds into my designs and photography comes from all my memories from growing up here in Portland, roaming the wharves on Commercial Street, behind my dad’s office — he sold computers out of the first Apple Computer dealer here in Maine in the early ’80s. The rich historical vernacular in the brick, cobblestone, and working fishing wharves is a goldmine of inspiration. Many of the Jack Tar team members are transplants, some from early childhood, others within the last couple of years, and so our perspectives vary, but it all comes down to appreciation. For the effort it takes for our winter wear to be both stylish and appropriate for the harsh conditions. For the way we dress things up and down by adding and losing layers and accessories to accommodate a day hiking Bradbury and dinner in the Old Port without a pit stop at home. For the way Mainers unapologetically rock the Bean Boot with just about anything.