JUMA is made up of sibling design duo Alia and Jamil Juma. Originally from Toronto,
Canada, these prolific travelers have become known for their striking digital prints as
well as practical pieces for the urban wanderer. The New York-based brand has taken
the best of men's and women's fashions to create a redefined unisex style statement
that is based on art and voyages to exotic places like Kenya, Congo and Kazakhstan.
JUMA has attracted a loyal following since launching in 2003 and can be found inside
the Eva boutique in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Q+A met up with Jamil to talk ballet
flats for men, the perfect scarf and globe hopping.
FASHION Q+A: How did JUMA come about?
JAMIL JUMA: JUMA as it is today came about by accident. The line was going to
happen regardless, but I might not have been in the mix. My sister Alia started a line
that was custom clothing based with some ready-to-wear looks. I got laid off from my
finance job during the recession and started helping out my sister with some
marketing and sales stuff while looking for a job. Then I got completely sucked in and
we decided to launch a contemporary line together.
Q+A: Tell us, a little bit about the JUMA girl/boy?
JUMA: The JUMA girl and boy are generally optimistic, curious and individualistic with
a unique sense of style and way of life. They look for things that speak to them without
all the noise of what the majority of people are doing. They have their own sense of
Q+A: You both are clearly very well traveled, but if you had to pick one place for our
readers to go to in the name of fashion, where would it be?
JUMA: Well, we`ve been a lot of places and have seen a fair bit of the world, but there
are still places for us to explore. We still have not been to South America or Japan,
which I feel has some real interesting places and cultures to explore. I do feel Mumbai
has some great talent and artisans there with their local traditional beadwork and
embroideries. Also Paris is very beautiful with its architecture and how everyone
seems to have great taste when it comes to style and food.
By Isabella Redmond Styles
A Family Affair
Q+A: What’s the best item of clothing you’ve picked up on your travels?
JUMA: Um, that would be tough as we have access to our own clothing. I usually wear something
from our sample room (hush hush), but I did pick up a great pair of shoes recently in Paris. They
look like ballet flats with laces for men. I got it from the only store open past 6pm as everything in
Paris closes early so that they can enjoy the rest of their day. They are from Repetto Homme. I do
like trinket jewelry from Turkey and leather and wood pieces from India and Spain.
Q+A: You’ve not only traveled the world, you’ve lived all over to. Is there a piece of the cities you’
ve lived in, incorporated into your JUMA designs that are easily extractable? Does Vancouver
have its own motifs and sartorial tropes?
JUMA: We do combine elements from everywhere actually. A lot of our scarf borders come from
places ranging from Kenya, India and even Vancouver using local Inuit inspired design. We add
many layers to each print we design that has some sort of meaning or reference to a time, person or
place we have been in contact with.
duo Jamil &
Photo credit: Michael Watier
Q+A: Striking digital prints are obviously a big part of JUMA. We love your reinvention of the classic silk scarf and we hear you designed a special scarf line exclusively for
Harvey Nichols Hong Kong. Can you tell us a bit about the process you go through when designing your scarves and choosing your unusual prints?
JUMA: We started designing scarves 3 seasons ago as we couldn’t find a scarf that resonated with us and our customer. Everything looked rigid or very classic and so we decided to make
scarves that speak to a modern customer. We also went with themes of nature, travel and art from our past and present. We take images, illustrations and distort them and give them a
harder edge using vibrant colors as well. The end result is something that feels exotic, optimistic and directional.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Lil Wayne's 'I Am Still Music' tour made a stop in Camden, New Jersey this summer with a performance from chart topper Nicki Minaj, who looked like a pop princess in a custom JUMA print.
JUMA presented a runway collection of 'Kaleidoscope' prints and seperates at the 2011 LG Toronto Fashion Week. Pictured above are looks from both the women's and men's Fall/Winter 2011 collection.
Q+A: What are you working on at the moment? Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from your next collection?
JUMA: We are working on so many things presently. We have launched a pop up shop at Eva boutique in New York on the Bowery and have been busy with that. We are also
simultaneously developing our Spring/summer 2012 collection and we are getting our exclusive line for Harvey Nichols Hong Kong ready for Fall. It’s a lot of juggling, but that’s how it is.
Q+A: Would you say that the unisex feel of JUMA came about from the fact that you’re a brother and sister design duo? Do you think unisex fashion is important and relevant?
JUMA: That’s actually where it stemmed from initially. But I think it’s become commonplace amongst our audience. It’s like I went to visit my parents a few weeks ago in Toronto and didn’t
bring much clothing with me. I went through my sister’s closet to grab a pair of acid washed jeans that fit nicely. The idea of unisex fashions is not as complicated as the concept seems to
certain people, especially when dressing more casually. I do feel men are experimenting more with color and cuts and women are not afraid to show their masculine side so in that sense
its relevant but unisex dressing has been around for centuries. Look at how men dress in the Middle East and Asia. They wear traditional wardrobes like knee length kurta tops and pants
that resemble the female`s except slightly more toned down in color and embellishment. The overall concept of women’s and men’s clothes crossover quite a bit.