Everyday clothing that’s contemporary, beautiful and original. The majority of POL's pieces are crafted in Australia, focusing on creative knitwear complemented by a refined selection of fashion basics in luxurious fabrics.
“The thing I love about Sam Jones' clothes is their adaptability. Using quality fabrics in timeless designs, she updates each season with fresh colours and prints.”TRUDI JENKINS Director, The Store
Sam Jones has been making clothes since she was 13 years old. “It’s in my DNA. My mother had a sewing machine that was all cobwebbed and neglected, so I just dusted it off and started making clothes. I was young, I was bored and I was thin. I’d try on clothes and think ‘I don’t want to wear that’. So I’d go to Spotlight, buy some fabric and make something I’d seen on TV. I could look at somebody or a picture, and just make something. Then in high school, I started sewing class in Home Ec and realised I already knew how to do it. I sewed everyone’s zips in for them!”
After studying for a diploma in fashion design at TAFE in her hometown of Brisbane, Jones won an overseas scholarship and headed straight to London. There, she worked for companies developing fabrics to sell on to stores such as Marks & Spencer and Debenhams.
“We also sold into Europe – I had the most amazing time travelling – you’d design some bad shirt or skirt and they’d sell tens of thousands of them! It was funny coming back to Australia, where you’d design something amazing and be thrilled to have sold 50 pieces!”
Back in Australia, Jones worked as a design director for Howard Showers and David Lawrence. Then she had a baby. Shortly after, POL Clothing was born. “I decided I had to find my own way, because working fulltime and raising a child didn’t really go hand in hand. I gave myself 12 weeks to see how it went; if it didn’t work, I’d go and find myself a job. But I’m still here, so it worked!”
The label’s name is derived from a friend’s nickname: “She’s Danish and, originally, it had the two dots over the ‘o’, but we rebranded and took them off. It was influenced by the ‘Danish revolution’ that was happening at the time. Princess Mary had just arrived on the scene, and we kind of ‘embraced the Scandi’. The name’s very clean and modern – like the clothes. It’s a style that’s always appealed to me.
“We started about nine years ago with 12 brightly coloured knitwear pieces – we just wanted beautiful, quality knitwear at good prices. In the stores then, it was all pretty boring – twinsets, that sort of thing. We wanted to use colour and beautiful yarns. To this day, our knitwear is what people know and come to us for. As the years have gone by, we’ve expanded into our catchphrase, ‘elevated everyday style’ – a casual but elegant look using quality materials.”
According to Jones, she and her longtime collaborator, Alex, get their inspiration “from everywhere. In fact, people come back for a lot of our styles over and over again, so in some ways we’re inspired by what our customers love. We don’t slavishly follow trends. We have a certain fit and a certain look, so we may take a look from elsewhere, then represent it in our own way. We’re inspired by women, by who we are and how we want to dress.”
For each season and the ‘drops’ (stages of her collection sent out through a season) that it comprises, she starts with a series of blank squares, sketching everything she thinks she’ll want to wear. She’ll also be thinking about her yarns, her linens, her cottons and silks. Then she’ll think of a print to tie it all in with.
“It all works in a loose formula. I put all these ideas into these boxes, then spend weeks changing and moving things around – agonising over it! – until each drop makes sense and tells a story. Each story then becomes a capsule, a range that all works together.
“It’s quite a modern way of dressing. Each season, we produce about 60 different styles, which will include our core range, the fashion pieces and the ‘whimsical’ pieces – ones that might just be my own flight of fancy, like a long, flowing check silk dress. But each piece still embraces who we are and what we’d like to wear ourselves.
“What we do is singularly simple. A lot of thought goes into something that will look good on women of all ages. One thing that’s essential for me is that we don’t want to show too much flesh. But we don’t want to look ‘mumsy’, either. We don’t want the wearer to be categorised when they put on our clothes. This is actually quite difficult – to know how things are going to look on a woman in her twenties or her forties.
“The former doesn’t want to look as if she’s wearing her mum’s frock and the latter doesn’t want to look all mumsy! It’s difficult to design a piece that you can just pop on and feel great in, even though that is such a simple idea. For us, it’s more about an attitude than a style. We want to be able to put on something and just ‘be’. To feel, yeah, this is me.”
POL Clothing now sells through about 100 retailers around Australia and New Zealand – all from Jones’ studio over her garage/stock room in inner-city Sydney. “We’ve dabbled a little overseas, but we prefer to keep it small, because it does get out of control and you have to take on more staff. At the moment it’s quite intimate. Alongside Alex and me, there’s usually a couple of part-timers, Christie and Olivia. As the work ebbs and flows, so do the people coming in to help. At busy times, we have all my ‘mum friends’ come in to help with the packing and dispatching. About six people crammed in at once doing the work. It works for them, too, because everyone wants the flexibility.
“When it’s your own business, though, you can’t drop the ball – I work all the time. But I can’t imagine doing anything else.”read less