An Interview with Jennifer M. Brown of Under the Root

Under The Root is an intimate apparel design house that encircles and creates hand structured lingerie, loungerie, and boudoir accessories by Jennifer M. Brown. Read more about the interview below:

Jennifer M. Brown

Jennifer M. Brown

Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.

My childhood story is not one for the faint of heart.  There are no warm fuzzies and financial support backups or luscious love stories.  The story is one of reclamation.  I was the oldest of three in a single parent household.  My father was a victim of the Vietnam War and subsequently abandoned our family when I was 9 years old.  My mother did her very best although made poor choices which landed us all in the world of sexual, domestic, and emotional abuse.  The one constant in my life was dance classes.  I began working in the dance studio for trade of classes at age 14.

When I was 15, my decision to take a sewing class spawned an impetuous desire to somehow connect the impoverished world to the fantastical by means of an apparel tightrope.  The skills gained in the next 2 years were to be quite literally danced over.  In my adult life, dance had taken over and fashion flipped to leotards, warmups, wrap skirts, and pieces for body mover comfort.  Most of the time the materials were upcycled and/or refurbished, used clothing pieces.  As whimsy as some may think a dancer’s life is, quite the opposite is true.

There are bruises, sweat, poignant falls, flips, aches, salt baths, body strategies and negotiations, grand or minuscule maneuvers.  The breadth of challenge can be described as being submerged in the star-crossed love between pain and power.  It is at this particular crossing where Under The Root began to take shape.  I did not take the conventional, educational path to fashion design though.  I studied dance, practiced as a performance artist, designed costume for stage and film, then styling for boutiques.   There is a compendium of these creative skills, which bleed into the designs and brand today.

What is the importance of ethical fashion to you?

Ethical fashion and the decision to purchase ethical fashion sits heavily on the individual buying decisions.  The options for ethical apparel choices are vast, impeccable, and essential.  We now have the ability to research the aspects of a company and ask questions, which receive genuine answers.   The influence of ethical fashion has shown a positive outcome that gives way to an exceptional planet and peoples.  The respect of human rights, environmental impact, and a transparent supply chain are three main values that take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, plus minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns.  Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, the elements of manufacturing, the benefits to the people and communities, and the overall acknowledgement of a brand’s social responsibility.

Under the root lingerie

Briallen Bodysuit captured by Benjamin Chavez

What is the importance of sustainable fashion to you?

Sustainable fashion is a category related to and included within the ethical fashion concept.  While ethical is directly affected by an individual’s values, cultural perceptions and points of view, sustainable fashion generally refers to the methods, materials, and processes of garment production.  The sustainability of a garment is crucial and one of the basic ingredients for high quality workmanship.

What is Under the Root?

Under The Root specializes in the compassionate and transformative revolution of sensual alchemy for body movement visionaries.  The affectionate brand continues to conjure designs that support the channels to a sustainable planet, imprint an expression of functional sensuality onto your skin, and offer a fair wage in exchange for high return in quality work.  These intimate apparel pieces provide a practical, yet ethereal wickedness with a mission of equilibrium.

Hazel Hipster Panties feature a full derriere coverage design, appliques of vertical trim in front and back, hand dyed hemp/organic cottons, plus a reinforced pantyliner

Hazel Hipster Panties feature a full derriere coverage design, appliques of vertical trim in front and back, hand dyed hemp/organic cottons, plus a reinforced pantyliner

What makes Under the Root unique?

Under The Root creates intimate apparel for the modern, minimalist, body mover who activates with a subtle alchemy.

What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

There are irons in the fire at this point of original designs for dance companies and performance artists.  I just signed up to work on wardrobe stylings in a local, Seattle theatre.  Also, a collection including rune casting cloths, tarot reading cloths, altar cloths, and tool satchels launches in October 2016.

What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?

This question has an extensive answer although I will work towards paring it down to the underlying reason Under The Root exists.  It goes without many more words that I forged this brand from the ashes of my frustration with the intimate apparel industry and the greed that was running rampant without regard for the planet and its peoples.  When I began to dig a little deeper as to why I was driven to continue on, here is where my values rested first:

Sensuality is inherent with every human body. The word may begin with the letter ‘s’ but it is quite different than sexuality. It claims the right of a body without repression or compartmentalized pleasure zones, and it is a natural, whole being submersion in sensory exploration. You do not need drugs to hold hands with it, and it creeps over you when lingering too long as a shadow.

 Rowan Romper from Under the Root

Rowan Romper from Under the Root

Sensuality is freedom and there is never a wrong way to ingest it with yourself. You can wash with it in the rain, dry in the light breezes, lay on the rocky ground cover, or bring it to the fire. It is yours to claim. Even a quick moment of non-action sends it the message to smolder with you.

These words above are a personal calling card to make room for it in yourself and others. Do away with the judgment of what it is supposed to look like, talk like, act like, or be. It is yours; every last drop of the blood of it is yours. Others may see it just as you may see others, but make no doubt that it belongs to the only one who sees it as a completed circle… you.

With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them now?

We are beyond the need to explain the worth of the ethical and sustainable companies.  It is time for innovation across all facets of the industry.  In order to sustain the evolution, the acceptance begins and ends with authentic, design leadership.

Under The Root donates 5% of its proceeds from sales to different charities and organizations.

Under The Root donates 5% of its proceeds from sales to different charities and organizations.

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?

Thank you for your dedication, appreciation, and care to the evolution of our fashion industry.  Certainly, it is to take a village as we enlighten the populace and change the status quo.

Thank you for your time, Jennifer.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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