University of the Fraser Valley - Janna "Jam" Kingma, Smelly Jam

Images courtesy of Peter Jensen Photography

Time for another article on a brand new fashion designer!  The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) showcased a truly eclectic group of fashion design grads in their April runway presentation - Absolute Style 2015.  I love variety and in my pre-wander through their portfolios, I was drawn the the pin-up/rockabilly style of Janna "Jam" Kingma.

As always, the question becomes, "Would the potential I saw in the portfolio be realized on the runway?"  The answer was yes. Kingma had a nice mix of pieces that offered great pin-up style - each reinforced by the choice of colours and fabrics chosen - that were still very wearable in today's market.  

The dress from black and  print fabric in particular could be worn anywhere by anyone. And if I still had the body - I would wear the ensemble featured to the left featuring a leopard print crop top with skinny pleather skirt.  Time to hit the gym.  Or perhaps I can talk her into making me a top just a tad longer!

The third look - a coverall - was definitely aimed at the younger market.  The detail that took this design to the next level was the use of red piping to create the illusion of a sweetheart neckline and curvy waist/hip shape.  The simple black/white tee completed the look without overpowering this detail. Kingma also had three looks featured in the Designs For The Specialty Market - a coat, a jacket and a bustier.

I was fortunate to connect with Kingma to learn little more about her journey and what she will be bringing to the local fashion scene.  Enjoy!

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Prince George, British Columbia, lived in Richmond until the third grade and spent the remainder of my childhood in Langley, BC....although I wouldn't say that I've fully grown up! I hope to forever remain a child at heart.

What you like when you were young?

I was a creative, shy ​kid. I always loved art class better than any other subject. Starting from a very young age, I would draw designs just for fun - not just clothing but house plans and jewelry. I could get lost in magazines with house plans or fashion magazines for hours!

What were your interests in High School?

​I just couldn't wait to be done high school! I wanted to move out and travel! I did fill my time with a lot of dog walking and drawing.​  ​My favorite classes were art and social studies, learning about the past and being creative are just a couple of my interests!​

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

​As I said earlier, I loved to sketch fashion ideas. When I was younger I would draw something up and then head to the mall to find something similar, but always ended up frustrated when I found nothing! I've always had my own sense of style​ and I love seeing what other people are wearing!​

Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

​I started leaning towards fashion in high school, but I wasn't given much support from the guidance counselor to pursue this dream. Instead I was pushed towards more practical options like a librarian. I think the arts are definitely not supported enough in schools. I ended up moving to Alberta and working at a saw mill for five years before finally making the decision to go back to school for fashion. Part of me still likes working with machinery but even in a veneer mill I couldn't keep fashion out of my mind. Sometimes I would be dreaming up dresses while pulling veneer from the line or watching the machines!

Why did you choose to study at the University of the Fraser Valley?

​I had actually already studied for a year at a school in Vancouver, but the program wasn't really taking me in the direction I was hoping to go. I was introduced to the program at UFV and all of the hands on classes like surface design and the business options really caught my attention. ​Also having the option of going forward with a Bachelor of Fine Arts or advancing in the future because of University credits was a comforting option to have.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

​I think the hardest part about the program is the short deadlines. Sometimes you just want a little more time to play around with your ideas, but you learn to work fast. I think some of the best moments we had as a group were working late at night and making trips to Denny's for a quick bite to eat. Or singing and dancing around the sewing room at all hours of the night. I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to spend the last two years with! ​

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

​I took quite a bit of inspiration for my collection from the pin-striping on vintage cars. Its a beautiful art form that takes a steady hand and a good eye. The results are amazing. ​ 

Describe your collection – customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-highend glamour-stage costuming-punk?

My collection is made for the Rockabilly/Pin Up market. I wanted the design lines and the cuts to accentuate curves and pull out the wearers inner bombshell! For this market some of the pieces could be worn day to evening, but it is essentially more of a day wear collection. Everything that was designed for this collection I pictured being worn at VLV (Viva Las Vegas), a car show or a roller derby event. ​

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

​My color palette was a lot of black. What Rockabilly girl doesn't love black! My accent colors were red and a touch of white. Since this was a F/W collection, I used some heavier weight fabrics such as denim, sweater knits, pleather and cotton sateen. ​

Do you have a favourite look?

​I just love how my overalls turned out. They were a lot of work but it really paid off! I was also thrilled with the leopard print crop sweater/pleather skirt outfit. Seeing my models in the clothes and how excited they were to dress Pin Up was really great, the models did a fantastic job!​

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

​I would love to work in the Pin Up market and focus on pants or fabric design and bring forward some new prints and fabrics that may not be seen so often. I'm obsessed with cotton sateen right now, its a gorgeous fabric! ​

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

​A travel break has been on my mind for a while! What better time than the present!? I'm not sure what the future holds but I would love to work a Pin Up company such as Blame Betty (greatest Pin Up store in Calgary!) or Steady Clothing. ​ 

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you.

There's no such thing as a standard size movie star or woman for that matter. - Edith Head

I really believe in dressing for your body shape. I got into pin up because what was trendy at the time didn't fit my shape. I went through a long phase of hating my body and trying to dress like everyone around me and I just felt miserable! The first time I put on a pencil skirt and a pair of heel it was just YES! This is me!

Anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned?

One of the biggest factors that pushed me towards vintage style fashion was watching one of the two TV channels we had growing up and there was a Marilyn Monroe movie on called "How to Marry a Millionaire." I just fell in love with how the clothes fit, how they moved and how classy and sexy it was at the same time. Still one of my favorite classic films! I get a lot of inspiration from watching old movies, I just cant get enough of them! ​

For more information or to contact designer Janna "Jam" Kingma of Smelly Jam Clothing go to

To learn more about the fashion design program at the University of the Fraser Valley, go to