The majority of British women of all ages have a shared affinity with the heritage brand Jigsaw. For over 50 years Jigsaw has been a firm fixture on the high street offering work and occasion wear to the chic shopper.

My first Jigsaw memory takes me back to my teenage years in rural Norfolk when charity shops became my gateway to self-expression. I would spend hours digging through mounds of mothballed second-hand clothes until I stumbled upon pieces that caught my attention. A Jigsaw label was gold dust, favoured for its brilliant fit, ‘90s aesthetic and palpable quality. I still have a number of my Jigsaw charity shop finds, a black bias-cut wool dress, some pin-stripe linen trousers and a wine-coloured satin suit, which has had many an outing over the festive period. It’s likely I’ll keep these staples forever or if not pass them on to someone, who like 15-year-old me, wants clothes that make them feel free.

Creative director, Jo Sykes, recalls her first Jigsaw memory in sixth from, “I had this green, wool, deep racing green pencil skirt that I was just absolutely obsessed with,” she says, “I think I even got it hemmed to be a bit shorter and would wear it to school, it was just such a staple.” The British fashion designer, who formerly worked at various luxury fashion houses, including Nicole Farhi, Alberta Ferretti and Aquascutum, took to the helm of then edging-on/outdated-fashion brand at the end of 2019. It’s only now, post Pandemic that we are discovering the shakeup in the best way of the beloved brand.

When asked about her transition from luxury to the high street, Jo replies, “I had never really thought of Jigsaw as being high street. Of course, it’s physically on the high street but it feels like its proposition was so much more than that.” Jo has since navigated Jigsaw through the tumultuous waters of the pandemic, the collapse of said high street and a global economic crisis, successfully reinstating the brand as a talking point in the past year.

“It was much more of an evolution than a radical overnight change in direction,” she says, “It has been quite healthy really. We didn’t want to alienate the customer but at the same time, we knew the brand was feeling frumpy and not modern enough so things needed to change.” With a three-year plan in place, Jo and the team (including former Karen Millen exec, Beth Butterwick) set out to stabilise the brand, closing 30 stores, including all international outposts, and focusing solely on the womenswear line, which had been homogenised and overshadowed by the men’s and children’s diffusions.

Since then, the brand has steadily picked up the pieces, adopting new digital-first strategies to move with the times and harked back to the brand design roots. “There’s such integrity in the fabrications and it has this amazing heritage of working with really new cutting-edge photographers on quite provocative marketing campaigns.” says Jo, “it has always punched above its price point and we wanted to tap into that.”

The latest campaign focuses on the making process behind the collection and whisks viewers from the brand's warehouse in Swindon, where its repair service takes place (which is free within a year of purchase) to its atelier in London. “We just really wanted to reaffirm that value we place on quality craft at Jigsaw,” says Jo. Inspired by the wit and eccentricity of early ad campaigns, practical tailored garments sit alongside loud prints and block colours - think fuchsia, cobalt, olive green and periwinkle. “The design lens and the technical lens that you apply when developing a product doesn’t necessarily add cost to the garment, it’s just about know-how and taste,” she says. Waistcoats, a light trench coat and a sweater vest tunic cater to temperate weather and a new delve into eyewear results in 70s-inspired oversized shades and cateye styles rendered in mint green, tortoiseshell, neutral beige and transparent dusty pink.

Through this evolution, Jo brings a fresh perspective to the brand, expertly blending contemporary and classic styles to create clothing that is both timeless and modern in true Jigsaw spirit. Under her leadership, the brand has also ramped up its sustainable practices, with a commitment to using organic and eco-friendly materials in its designs and is soon to be recognised as a B Corp company (the certification that means brands meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability).

With a number of exciting new collaborations on the horizon, including another instalment alongside lifestyle brand Collageire, Jigsaw is also set to open a series of new stores less than two years after closing a big chunk of its retail portfolio, with hopes to reopen internationally in the near future.

“Jigsaw is great classics, peppered with standout pieces where you know when you wear it, someone, without a shadow of a doubt, will say “oh my god that coat is amazing where did you get it?””

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By Augustine Hammond