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The Canadian entrepreneur and former Bachelorette gets candid about social media and her latest collaboration with Joe Fresh.
Jillian Harris started her day crying. Let me explain.
Harris is the multi-hyphenate to end all multi-hyphenates. Former Bachelorette, current Love or List It Vancouver host, interior designer, author, Team Jilly founder and content creator, the mom of two can now add three-time Joe Fresh collaborator to her list of accomplishments. And it’s not hard to see why the Canadian brand keeps extending the invitation — Harris’s track record speaks for itself. In both 2019 and 2020, the famous “Jilly Jacket” sold out within 24 hours. “I walk down the street on any given day, and I’ll see somebody wearing one,” Harris says over video chat.
While her first stints with Joe Fresh were reserved to outerwear, this time Jillian Harris wanted more. “I’ve been sort of hounding them for a while to have my own, full collection,” she says with a laugh. “The problem has always been that you have to start these collections two years in advance, and just the way my life works with Love It or List It and the babies and travelling, it was so hard to bring it to life.”
Cut to two and a half years (and a pandemic) later, and Harris has finally done it — a 20-piece fall capsule collection for women and kids including outerwear, sportswear, accessories, footwear and and other staples. Harris discusses the collection — dropping online and in stores October 5 — from a room with the entire assortment on display.
Hence the tears. “When I walked in today, I started sobbing. I was like, this is unreal — absolutely unreal,” she says. “I’m so proud of Team Jilly and Joe Fresh, the friendships we’ve made, the trust we’ve built and the confidence that Joe’s team has in me.”
Featuring cozy sweaters, knit dresses and cheetah-print footwear, Harris’s capsule takes most of its inspiration from a few of her favourite past Joe Fresh items. However, her nostalgia is most prominent in the new (and sure to be sold out) “Harris” coat. “I had a jacket really similar to [this new coat] from Joe Fresh from one of the first years that they opened. It’s almost 15 years old, and I still wear it every single winter, and it’s in perfect condition.” Considering Harris’s West Coast roots, this is high praise indeed.
Harris isn’t just recreating the clothing of her past, though. She’s also looking to the future, with an eye toward comfortable and versatile clothing — so much so that she actually halted production on the red “Peggy’’ dress to swap the fabric. “The original material for that dress was a little bit more of a silk,” reveals Harris. “While it was beautiful, I was thinking, if it’s a chilly October night and I’m going out for dinner, I want to look classic and timeless, but I still want to be comfortable. And at the very last minute, I changed it.”
The same dress also comes in brown with white polka dots, sure to be a treat among the ’90s romcom obsessed. Harris notes the “timeless but also high fashion” inspiration behind the dress comes from Julia Roberts’ legendary ensemble in Pretty Woman (post-meeting Richard Gere, of course)
Harris was determined to make her first collection size-inclusive, with all 20 garments available in sizes XS to XXXL. “[Celebrating that] is something that has always been important to me.”
If you needed even more convincing that her third Joe Fresh collaboration is a meaningful one to the designer, she named the majority of the pieces after influential women in her life, such as the “Shay” dress, “Mary” sneaker and “Steph” sweater. “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They’ve supported me, inspired me and coached me, so it just felt natural.”
Just don’t tell them that. “Actually, none of them know,” says Harris. “They’ll find out on launch day.”
The self-proclaimed potty mouth’s sense of humour and ability to wear her heart on her sleeve has become an integral part of Harris’s brand and success. Whether it’s documenting her grey hair journey during lockdown or sharing pics of herself in a diaper after giving birth, fans continually come back to the Canadian influencer because of her vulnerability.
“I want people to come to my platform and laugh, be inspired, smile, learn, unlearn and [embrace their] vulnerability,” Harris says. “I mean, nobody’s perfect. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how much education you have — everybody makes mistakes, everybody’s got boogers, everybody farts, and everybody’s imperfect. And I think that what makes people perfect is just embracing those imperfections and not apologizing for them.”