We Want To Know: Jordan Erin McKay of HENDRIXROE
Attending a HENDRIXROE runway show is unlike anything else seen during fashion week; the experience is actually more like going to a rock concert. Designer Jordan Erin McKay creates a sensation on the runway, perfectly pairing her glam-rock looks with her rock & roll music selections, selecting models with fierce attitudes that reflect the vibe of the clothes. Jordan’s runway shows are always high energy and she’s the only designer who has the entire audience on their feet at the end. The only thing missing from these “rock shows” are people waving lighters! I had the opportunity to chat with Jordan before she presented her men’s and women’s collections at TOM (Toronto Men’s Fashion Week) and TW (Toronto Women’s Fashion Week), and then had the great pleasure of seeing both shows from the front row. Talking to Jordan felt like catching up with a friend I’ve known for years - we had a great conversation and I’m delighted to share with you how she became the phenomenal and innovative designer that she is today.
Jordan has one of the most fun origin stories about how she became a fashion designer, and she tells it with passion, enthusiasm, humour and reverence. The turning point came while Jordan was attending law school in Calgary (she comes from a family of lawyers), when a chance encounter with a stranger turned her life around. Jordan booked a flight to Vancouver to celebrate her birthday with the many friends she made when she lived there, and because it was a special occasion she packed her entire wardrobe, which amounted to a lot of luggage and three carry-ons (this is the part where I don’t need to tell you that Jordan has always expressed an interested in fashion!). Carrying her usual triple espresso while boarding the plane and laden with bags, Jordan made her way down the aisle, very aware of her frazzled state, and passing by passengers looking up at her wearing a “please don’t sit next to me” expression on their faces. Upon finding her seat, Jordan promptly spilled her coffee all over the man seated next to her, who graciously didn’t make a big deal of it and sat quietly as the flight took off. Feeling terrible and wanting to make amends, Jordan finally started a conversation with him. She got around to telling him she was studying law, and he said that he couldn’t see her as a lawyer because she didn’t speak passionately about it. He had Jordan close her eyes and think about what she really wanted to do, who she wanted to be, and though she had never allowed herself to express her desire out loud before, she suddenly burst forth and talked to him for the rest of the flight about her love of fashion and her dream of being a designer. Well, doesn’t it turn out that the forgiving man she accidentally spilled her coffee on was a rainmaker, well-connected with business investors, and he saw something special in Jordan. He told her to write up a business plan and email it to him the following Monday (they met on a Thursday). Jordan spent the better part of her birthday weekend working on her business plan and by Wednesday she already had the first investor for her label! She immediately dropped out of law school to pursue fashion design.
HENDRIXROE is so named for two of Jordan’s idols - Jimi Hendrix and Marilyn Monroe. Jordan grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix and was always attracted to his ability to exude coolness without even trying. Jordan professes she’s always felt like a bull in a china shop, not quite fitting in, and there’s something about Jimi’s music that takes her to a different world. Marilyn Monroe represents the glamorous side of Jordan’s style, but Jordan also relates to Marilyn’s vulnerability and sorrow. Glam-rock has always been Jordan’s personal style, and these two icons that influenced her growing up were the obvious choice for her label’s name.
Jordan’s latest collection for spring/summer 2018 is crazy and colourful, a “garden of surreal messiness that makes beautiful sense.” Her designs are a true reflection of herself - she will wear, for example, a tutu with army pants, or a ballgown with a leather jacket - and the tension that’s created from this dichotomy in her own wardrobe is infused into her designs. Jordan has great respect for her customers and puts so much love into every piece she creates, ensuring they have longevity both in quality and in style. Her work is so personal to her that she gets marvellously nervous every time she sends a new collection down the runway. But she need not be nervous - both of her runway shows were impressive collections that showcased Jordan’s unique blend of glam-rock style. Jordan fits so perfectly into her role as a fashion designer and in hindsight seems knows it was always meant to be; she said it best, “when you’re in the right lane there’s never any traffic” - that is, when you really want something and go after it, nothing will stand in your way.
Want more? Here’s what else #WeWantToKnow, from Jordan herself:
I can't start my morning without… kisses from my fave lil’ lady Penny Lane Hendrix (my lil’ Yorkie).
I have a weakness for… people-watching. I am obsessed with it, it's how I create.
Most people don’t know that I… was born in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Currently reading… emails, I wish I could hide away with a great book but I'm so crazy busy.
I want… equality - we need less ignorance and more coexistence. It's time to wake up world!
Such a pleasure featuring you, Jordan, thanks for participating in #WeWantToKnow! Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next season - see you on the runway!
#WeWantToKnow is a series published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.