Since 1872, James Heal has set the standard in materials testing, helping brands, retailers, manufacturers and laboratories across the world, achieve accurate and reliable test results.
We sat down with the wonderful Naja Johansen, Quality Manager and Jeannie Christensen, Quality Technician at JACK & JONES, to find out why they chose James Heal when fitting out their flagship new lab at the epicentre of their Denmark headquarters, and discuss their exciting plans for the future.
With a relentless pursuit of quality and setting the standard in the fashion industry, Danish menswear brand JACK & JONES turned to James Heal to help them develop their flagship new laboratory, at the centre of their Denmark headquarters.
Founded in 1990 in Denmark, JACK & JONES is now the biggest business in the BESTSELLER A/S group. As one of the leading mens jeanswear brands in Europe, JACK & JONES, develops collections covering all occasions and fashion trends across tailoring, urban sportswear, footwear and accessories. They currently operate 1000 stores, and the brand goes beyond apparel, with accessories and footwear, and is constantly pushing boundaries with new and innovative materials and fabrics. For more information, visit: www.jackjones.com
“At JACK & JONES we like to do things properly. We pull, push, stretch, rip, tear and spin to make sure our clothes live up to the highest expectations. The LAB is the working place of dedicated and extremely skilled colleagues who are experts in their field, and together with our suppliers, they work relentlessly to ensure our customers get serious value for money!”Dennis Birk Jørgensen, Sales Director Jack & Jones Bestseller
Naja is quality manager at JACK & JONES, but prior to this, she’s enjoyed a long and successful career in textile testing – and had worked with James Heal equipment for many years. Both Naja and Jeannie had visited James Heal in Halifax, UK, seven years ago for training on several instruments, including Titan.
“When my Brand Director asked me to create an in-house lab back in 2012, I wasn’t sure at first – it wasn’t something we’d done before and I was unsure why we needed it,” explains Naja. “However, when embarking on the project, I knew the lab needed to make a statement aesthetically, but most importantly, I needed to ensure that we had the absolute best quality and reliability. For me, James Heal was the first – and only – choice, there was no alternative”
When it came to kitting out the laboratory, Naja explains she and her team chose a broad selection of equipment, and the decision to have an in-house lab soon made sense: “We have a lot of suppliers, but we don’t own any factories. Once the lab was up and running, I immediately saw the benefit of having an in-house laboratory. Suppliers would visit the head office, see the lab and be very impressed with the quality and visual appeal of the equipment. They then wanted the same set-up and copied the lab in their own factories – choosing James Heal too, of course!”
Not only that, but the “look of amazement” on customers’ and visitors’ faces was a real indication that the in-house laboratory made a real difference to how the JACK & JONES brand is perceived.
“People are so impressed with the new lab. You can see when they leave they have a different energy! Some people are so surprised, they have an idea what kind of level we work at – but when they have been here they leave with a different understanding.
Customers have told us they were “blown away” and that we’re in “a completely different league” which was our favourite feedback! I think what’s important for us is to make sure we match what we say with what we do – there are no empty words. When we say we’re the best, it’s because we work with the best equipment and have a complete focus on product quality – our standards are high, and our customers and suppliers can see that”.
These high standards run through everything Naja and her team does. They have introduced a “rigorous quality process” which involves an in-house certificate approval procedure for all suppliers to go through when working with JACK & JONES. This, says Naja, is what sets their brand apart and demonstrates to their customers that quality is paramount.
Prior to the pandemic, there was a team of three in the LAB – but for the last 18 months, Naja has been working primarily alone. “Like all businesses, we’ve been forced to adapt and work differently over the past year and a half.”
The LAB has been run on a lower scale; but the business has survived the pandemic – largely due to the boom in online sales. “That’s what has saved us,” says Naja. “Thankfully we have everyone back at work, taking the necessary precautions.”
“The secret behind a perfect fit and a long lasting pair of favourite jeans – lies in the detail.” – Dennis Birk Jørgensen
The LAB is used for R&D and day-to-day testing, says Naja. “There is a deep power in running an on-site lab one hundred percent professionally for both R&D and day-to-day testing. This makes a huge difference for us and our customers – especially for the in-house knowledge and internal training aspects.”
Specifically, for JACK & JONES, adds Jeannie, the benefit of having the in-house lab means they can better understand what is happening to a fabric during testing – to evaluate the result and make conclusions.
“It’s difficult to do this with outsourced third party lab reports. Our expertise and knowledge is what makes the process so effective. We can work with customers and suppliers – doing development work together; comparing testing, technical feedback and discussion – we couldn’t do that if we outsourced all of our tests to a third party lab.”
This, says Jeannie, means they save time and make more informed recommendations, because “third party test reports are just numbers. Numbers alone are not enough: they need interpretation, explanation, recommendations. For us that’s the biggest benefit of having an in-house lab; we can develop products faster by seeing how the fabric is tested and how it performs during testing. If something happens during the test, we are here to see why and how a specimen is behaving. We can give guidance on what to do if a material fails, and create a plan to work with our suppliers to make it better.”
The in-house lab enables Naja and her team to find answers in a much quicker turnaround time for R&D. “The design team will come to us with ideas on new materials and how to test them. Testing these materials in the development stages helps us to understand what is the fabric suited for – the end use? We can test to see whether changes are needed to the design or materials, and this helps to inform decisions about whole product lines!”
To finish off our discussion, we talked about what trends Naja and Jeannie are particularly excited about in the apparel industry. One of the key areas they want to develop is sustainable and eco fashion, in particular, new sustainable fibres and sustainable buying methods.
“In general, we’re seeing an increase in sustainable fashion – from fibres to dying methods to washing methods. There’s been a rise in the use of different mixtures of fibre types, as cotton prices are increasing and there is a need to find more sustainable alternatives. Consumers are paying a lot more attention to sustainability and the lifespan of their garments. They want to see claims that brands are making backed up with evidence. One thing we’re particularly keen to explore is the use of plant dyes, how do they behave and can they withstand washing?”, adds Naja.
“We only play with the best - that’s why we use James Heal!”Naja Johansen, Quality Manager
As a longstanding customer of James Heal, we were delighted to help JACK & JONES achieve their ambition of creating a flagship in-house laboratory to not only make a ‘statement’ to customers and suppliers, but to play a crucial role in their research and development and brand recognition.
We’d love to help you develop your laboratory in the same way we have with JACK & JONES, get in touch to find out how we can support you.
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