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  WINDY CITY TIMES

FASHION Jack Cave, turning accessories into art
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-10

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Jack Cave—a Chicago-based artist, designer, instructor and the founder of Jack Cave LLC—definitely makes articles that help the wearer stand out from the crowd. Items such as PocketART, NeckART, WaistART and even BagART combine boldness and style.

Cave recently talked with Windy City Times about his life, fashion and art.

Windy City Times: How did you become in fashion, and how did you end up in Chicago? [Cave is from Missouri.]

Jack Cave: I was in corporate for about 30 years, but it started when I attended the Kansas City Art Institute. I worked at Hallmark while I was in school, and it blossomed from there. I was in painting and fine art at first—but as I was doing that, I realized I wasn't really going to make any money. [Laughs] Someone at Hallmark saw my sketches, and asked me if I do those for them. I then went into marketing and creative marketing.

I moved to Chicago in 2006. I really wanted to get out of corporate and start a consulting business. Plus, my brother was living here at the time and wanted me to come to Chicago—and I liked Chicago.

Then, 2007 hit—and [the national financial crisis] killed me. Doing what I wanted to do seemed difficult; my clients, who were Fortune 500 companies, pulled their contracts. I then started focusing on my art, and decided that's what I wanted to do—and I started rebuilding myself.

WCT: And you did it through fashion?

JC: And I did it through fashion. I decided to go into accessories, although I had been involved in clothing. I participated in different shows, like during Fashion Week; those went really well. The one thing lacking in Chicago and the Midwest, though, is buyers; they tend to be in New York and L.A.

WCT: Let's talk about those accessories. How would you characterize your items? What would make someone say, "Oh, yeah—that's a Jack Cave piece?"

JC: I would say it's very eclectic and European. There are a lot of luxury fabrics—and I only deal with luxury materials because I like how they handle. That would distinguish a Jack Cave piece. [Note: Cave later texted, "Another characteristic of my accessories is that they are non-gender-specific."]

WCT: And, on the flip side, what's the typical Jack Cave client?

JC: I would say that individual wants to be first in line. They don't fall within traditional parameters. They like to have a certain flair about how they present themselves.

Even individuals who don't have the money will save money to buy one of my pieces. That's the kind of person I want—because they know the pieces are one of a kind. I want to be known as having one-offs.

WCT: By the way, I notice you teach at the School of the Art Institute. What are your classes?

JC: I teach fabrication and materials, and spacial habitats [which explores methods and processes for research, planning, and production leading up to the installation of a body of work] as well as advanced shape and garments.

I learn so much from the students. I teach them, but they feed me with how they see things. Things are so different now! It's technology; I learn how to store information, but they learn how to use a pencil. You can't do everything on a computer or phone.

Also, here are some fast facts about Cave:

—Neighborhood of residence: Irving Park

—Favorite snack: "Oh, my God—key lime pie is my favorite. But, snack-wise, probably candy—especially chocolate."

—If you could have dinner with any three people ( living or dead ), who would they be?: "They would be Commes de Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo, Michelle Obama and my father."

—Influences: "Japanese style and skateboard culture"

—What is fashion to you?: "As a designer, fashion, to me, is anything I would wear. I would wear any of my stuff. What I'm selling is my vision."

Facility Fall-a-Faire, featuring Jack Cave and other artists, will open Thursday, Dec. 12, 5-9 p.m., and will continue Dec. 13-15, noon-5 p.m., at 3616 N. Milwaukee Ave. See FacilityChicago.org . For more about Cave's designs, visit JackCaveLLC.com .


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