The Juno Valentine by Janie and Jack collection bowing in stores and online on Nov. 5, was designed by Eva Chen and inspired by the title character in her inaugural children’s book, “Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes,” available for pre-order from Macmillan.
Chen, a consummate networker, said the book deal came about through her role as head of fashion partnerships at Instagram. “I’d been following Janie and Jack,” Chen said. “My daughter, Ren, is three-and-a-half and has an opinion about what she wears at all times.”
The line consists of 30 items, sizes six to 12 months, to size 12, including clothing in stripes and bandana prints, florals and space-inspired jackets, tops, pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, sweatshirts and swimwear. There are also sunglasses, backpacks, hair accessories and shoes, including a DIY sneaker that kids can embellish. Prices range from $14 to $109.
“I’ve never been a fashion designer before, but to be able to flex that muscle was so much fun,” said Chen. “The book and the message of the book is very much rooted in fantasy and female empowerment and shoes.”
While female empowerment and shoes may not seem like an obvious connection, Chen said, Juno loses her favorite shoes, which prompts a time-travel adventure to a magic room with shoes belonging to strong women through the ages, including Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra, Lady Gaga and Serena Williams.
Chen clearly loves her footwear; she’s photographed herself wearing everything from Birkenstocks and Yeezys to Chanel ballet flats and Manolo Blahnik high-heeled sandals for her popular #evachenpose on Instagram.
Is the one adult item in the collection, a coordinating women’s top, $49, a sign that Chen has bigger design ambitions? “The women’s fashion space is covered incredibly well,” she said. “There’s no shortage of incredible collections out there. I have a full-time job at Instagram.”
Before joining Instagram, Chen was editor in chief of Lucky magazine, which folded, despite her efforts to appeal to younger readers. Her subsequent gig as chief creative officer of Lucky Group, a joint venture between Condé Nast and e-commerce platform BeachMint, lasted 18 months. In both roles, Chen tilted farther toward merging fashion and digital commerce.
“It’s been so much fun, but I don’t know that’s something I want to pursue right now,” she added. “It’s hard not to squeal, ‘Eek,’ when I see my little 18-month-old son wearing one of the items. My daughter loves these shrunken sunglasses that fit into the palm of my hand. When I see them, I enter this incoherent state of squealing.”