Like many great fashion folk tales, this one starts with a pair of pants. For a friend’s birthday gift, Jordan Princiotta took a pair of pants she had thrifted and painted all over them. She had been playing around with painting clothing, but didn’t consider it as a money maker. To her surprise, not only did the friend love them, but everyone who saw them asked where they could get their own pair. “I thought to myself, no way do people really like and want these,” Jordan remarked looking back at the moment when she realized she might be able to make a living doing what she loved.
Fast forward a few months, Jordan, in school studying fabric patterning, launches her line Random Affects, landing her a seat at Philly Fashion Week and in some hot water with her teachers. While trying to balance fashion shows with schoolwork wasn’t easy, she was determined to make it work despite a distinct lack of support from her teachers. “They told me what I was making wasn’t fashion, that it wasn’t art,” Jordan said of her teacher’s feedback. While she was doing her best to see past their comments, trusting her gut that what she was making was worth making, it only grew more difficult when they questioned her participation in Fashion Week. “They didn’t believe that I was actually in Fashion Week. When I’d ask for an extension on an assignment, or even if I could hand work in early, they wouldn’t do it because they didn’t believe me,” Jordan explained.
School quickly began getting in the way of her designs, as opposed to fueling the creativity behind them. Jordan decided to leave school, shifting all of her focus onto Random Affects. “I know my work isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok,” she said as one of her biggest lessons early on. Clearly her teachers were not her target audience not her desired customers. Their opinions, while hurtful at first, ultimately became irrelevant as Jordan began to learn who her customers were.
“You’ve got to know your customer when you’re starting out,” Jordan explained. Like many designers, Jordan created a brand with herself in mind as the customer. “It’s really important to me to be size inclusive, and to create more options for people like me. I want to make stuff that I want to wear,” Jordan said of what’s influenced her designs to be plus size. Not only does she produce pieces she wants to wear, she charges a price that she’d be willing to pay. “I know I could charge more, but I wouldn’t want to pay more,” she explained.
What makes Random Affects both affordable and sustainable is the fact that all the material used is upcycled. Jordan thrifts pieces of clothing from discount shops, fixes them up, and adds touches of paint, embroidery and screen-printing. Because she’s able to keep her costs down, she can keep the prices down for customers. “Sustainability can be affordable if we just do it right,” Jordan explained. And she’s not wrong. Upcycling a thrifted garment is just as sustainable as creating a new planet-friendly material, possibly even more so since it’s using existing material rather than creating something new.
In addition to being size inclusive, sustainable, and affordable, Jordan’s pieces are also all limited edition. Not to make it cool or exclusive, but because they’re literally the one and only of their kind. While her iconic imagery, from eye balls to eight balls, can be found repeated from garment to garment, each piece is a true one of one. “My customer isn’t just a bigger size and carrying a smaller wallet, they want exclusive one of one/s,” Jordan explained of the typical Random Affects customer.
In a world where plus sized clothing is often not only expensive but boring, Jordan has made it cool and unique, all at a price point the every day consumer can afford. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, even during trying times. “COVID hasn’t been an easy time for us independent designers, but we’re working our asses off and it’s paying off.”