Lewis’ decision to sell follows more than a year of legal wrangling. As reported last September, a federal judge in Manhattan had preliminarily enjoined Goat Group, the sneaker and streetwear platform, from selling apparel and accessories using the Goat trademark.
The dispute had been rolling since December 2019 when Goat Fashion Ltd. began a trademark infringement and breach of contract lawsuit against 1661 Inc., which does business as Goat Group.
The court’s September decision came on the heels of Goat Group’s success in raising a $100 million investment from D1 Capital Partners to expand into the apparel market. D1’s investment valued Goat Group at $1.75 billion. Earlier this year the sneaker group attracted investment from Groupe Artémis, the Paris-based holding company founded by François-Henri Pinault.
“It seemed the prudent and astute thing to do, and we agreed on it amicably after a period of negotiation,” said Lewis in a telephone interview, adding that she was proud to have fought for herself and for her brand, which is a fraction of the size of 1661/Goat Group.
“It was a David and Goliath battle. I stood against them in full force, and it was extremely stressful. It was my most challenging year so far,” said Lewis, whose company is exempt from reporting full accounts at Companies House in the U.K., meaning that annual turnover is less than 10.2 million pounds.
She said that nothing beyond the name of her label will change, and that she’s excited, after two decades, for the business to bear her own name.
“I’ve always designed everything, and I don’t delegate to a team of designers. I’m still at the helm, although it’s more personal to me now that it’s called Jane. Things feel like they’ve come full circle, and I’ve come of age. I’ve unlocked something new, and have wind beneath my wings,” said Lewis.
The label’s ’60s-style, Space Age font, which Lewis had trademarked when she set up Goat, still belongs to her, and now it spells the word Jane. “It’s four letters to four letters, Goat to Jane, in the same font, and it means my aesthetic is even more cemented,” she said.
While the label itself is called Jane, it will be known as Jane Atelier in the URL and on social media. Lewis said the customer shouldn’t notice any differences at all.
The first collection under the new name is fall 2021, a lineup that is signature Lewis, with lots of ’60s-inspired, double-breasted coats, A-line dresses and skirts, flared trousers, pussy bow blouses and statement collars.
Lewis had originally named the brand Goat because of all of the cashmere fabrics she was using at the time. She still uses cashmere in the collections, but has broadened her net, adding jersey, cotton, wool and eco-friendly fabrics, including recycled polyester, and sustainable yarns for knitwear.
Lewis said the mills that she’s working with are coming up with more sustainable fabrics and processes by the month, and she is making changes as fast as she can to make the business greener.
“I have always been a believer in slow fashion. One of the most sustainable things you can do is rewear your clothes and mend them,” she said.
During the lockdowns of the past year, Lewis consolidated and reduced the breadth of her collections so as not to build up too much stock, and also put the focus on separates rather than defaulting to tracksuits, hoodies and trousers with elasticated waistbands.
“I did not want to change the DNA of my company, it would have been disingenuous. One has to be honest and have some grit. So I tried to think of what the customer wanted and needed at the time — a good coat and trousers, for example. In challenging times you have to continue to do what you do best, and not feel panicked into doing something else.”
Lewis said she also created some how-to videos for her online community about how to work the separates into a stay-at-home wardrobe. She said that coming out of the pandemic she’s expecting people to want to wear jackets, and lots of color.
Lewis worked with her wholesale clients, which include Matchesfashion, Farfetch and Harrods, throughout the pandemic and leveraged the brand’s e-commerce site. Roughly half of her sales come from wholesale, with the rest direct-to-consumer.
Lewis has a stand-alone store on Conduit Street in London and will be changing the signage above the door soon. She can use the name Goat until November.
Looking ahead, Lewis said she’s eager to begin the next chapter and is looking forward to doing collaborations with brands in categories she’s been interested in for a while, such as home and fragrance.