As we finish our conversation, Jessica Joffe asks me if I’m anxious. I am—shifting in my seat—it’s one of the bad days. I’m maniacally watching the news, pulling on my nails and texting friends “vibe check” to see if there is some kind of universal accordance. I don’t mean to bring it to this interview but I do, and Joffe helpfully adds that her therapist says these waves are normal. “Even her,” I say.
“Yes,” Joffe nods. “But then she gardens and meditates, and it’s okay!”
This kind of rolling optimism weaves itself into every aspect of Même Chose and it is, in retrospect, what drew me to write to the women’s shirting company, started by Joffe and her partner Alison Bergen last year. She answers my first question before I even ask. “When you start an apparel company in 2019, you need something more than an [aesthetic] vision,” Joffe says. “The fashion world is full of vision. With Même Chose, we saw a need and sought to fill it using our collective skills.”
The German-born fashion veteran—Joffe began modeling at age 14 and transitioned from there into journalism and criticism and then onto production and branding consulting for various luxury entities. Yet despite all her hands-on experience putting together new products and launching them into action, she’d never been in on the construction. “To be confronted with the garment is humbling,” Joffe says. Part of the Même Chose ethos is commitment to a large size run of basic closet staples: collared and tuxedo shirts available in sizes 00 to 20. “In the future, we’d like that to be 24,” she says. “Of course, because of this range one of the most pertinent issues we have to tackle is fit. Each garment we design has to be tested again and again by a range of fit models and we are always looking to improve.”
I ask her if the size run ever feels like an impediment. Joffe thinks of it more as a parameter—a limit to sharpen the creativity of Même Chose around. “We are small, we get immediate feedback when something is wrong,” Joffe laughs. Details are taken as a delight—this is the attitude that underpins the brand: slow progress and the idea that sustainability is not just raw materials, shipping or design but the concert of all these threads. Même Chose’s concentration on fit is purposeful but doesn’t leave much wiggle room for new silhouettes, campaigns and launches. “We get creative in other ways!” Joffe assures me, adding that her Germanic background allows her to embrace discipline as pleasure.
At the moment, Même Chose has entered the mask-making business, like seemingly all shops both large and small. “The one thing I didn’t expect was for people to be shopping like they are,” Joffe notes. “I’m just concentrating on groceries.” The brand is also donating 20% to frontline facing charities. “It feels good to take action.”
Weathering the storm like the rest of the industry, Joffe puts her faith in not only the design community but the customer base. “I think now more than ever, people are educating themselves,” she says. “They want to be on the right side of things and do better. We want to provide garments that honor this pledge to thoughtfulness. Perhaps the upshot of this moment will be a curbing of selfishness. Let’s build it to last.”