Get to Know Fashion Design Student Ina B. Jakobsen!

We had a chat with the lovely, wise and creative 23 year old Ina B. Jakobsen, a fashion design student at the National Academy of Arts in Oslo, Norway. With us, she shares why she decided to become a fashion designer, she guides us through the preparation for her pre-collection, in addition to share some of her previous work.

When did your interest for design and fashion start?

My interest started from a young age. Ever since I was little I loved to play «dress up» in my family’s old clothes. Most of the clothes were from the 60s and 70s, and it was a special feeling to wear something that previously had been worn by family members that I never had the chance to meet and know. By dressing up in their clothes- I felt closer to them and realized how much clothes can communicate about a person, a certain time/decade, style etc.

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer? 

I’ve always said I wanted to be a fashion designer. However, I’m not one of those people who has been sewing their own clothes since they were 4. I didn’t pursue it in my childhood/youth (other than drawing clothes in my Top Model book) but it was just something I knew I wanted to become when I grew up. I don’t think it’s ever too late to start. You don’t have to be «a natural born talent» or been doing something since you were very young, in order to follow your dreams. If you love it and have enough passion I think the skills required becomes natural results of that. 

A few snapshots from Ina’s life:

From a trip to Paris.

From a trip to Paris.

Last school project you had was a pre-collection, what is that?

«Pre-collection» was the name of the project we had just before christmas. It was sort of a rehearsal project before the last project we will have, which is the bachelor project. The bachelor project consists of a collection you design and make. It will be presented in a fashion show and an exhibition in may/june this year. In «pre-collection» we had to «practice» making a collection so we had to design 10 outfits and then create as many of those outfits we managed in the few weeks we had. I managed to sew three outfits that were presented in a fashion show. 

Can you explain how the process is from start to finish when you did the pre-collection? 

I started the project by searching for inspiration. I found two amazing books about «The Aloha Shirt» in the school’s library. I have been to Hawaii twice, and the last time I stayed there for 3 months. So it’s a place dear to my heart and therefore I decided to use Hawaii and «the Aloha shirt» as inspiration for my project. The atmosphere on the islands is very different from the atmosphere in every other place I’ve ever been. Hawaii is so countercultural of what we see for example in Norway. Here; everything has to happen quick, it’s all about performing, being the best, getting the most success which also means being the most stressed. «The Aloha Spirit» is like a deep breath of fresh air. Hawaiians are all about living in the moment and enjoying that moment. By taking the very familiar «Aloha shirt» I wanted to create something new, yet give people a certain mood/feeling by looking at the designs. 

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The «Aloha shirt» is made up of several cultures coming together in one place, as the shape of the shirt was brought by western missionaries coming to the islands. The missionaries wanted to make «suitable» clothes for the Polynesians already living there, and the original print on the shirt was Japanese, as they used kimono fabrics. In Hawaii, what you see are all results of different ethnical groups melting together into fellow Hawaiians. Everyone in Hawaii has immigrated from another place, so the islands are made up of lots of cultures. The four biggest ethnical groups in Hawaii is 1. Filipino, 2. Japanese, 3. Polynesian, 4. Chinese. 

I created four different prints representing each of these nationalities. The motives I used were different foods and dishes that each of these ethnical groups eat in Hawaii. I used food because that is something visible that separates and celebrates each groups individual heritage as well as  portraying the new culture they have made together in Hawaii. 

Photography; Mario de la Ossa. Models; Amanda O. Storaunet, Ingrid Isabella B. Haugnes, Linn Øymo. Hair/Makeup: Gina Gundersen.

Photography; Mario de la Ossa. Models; Amanda O. Storaunet, Ingrid Isabella B. Haugnes, Linn Øymo. Hair/Makeup: Gina Gundersen.

«The Aloha Shirt» and Hawaii in general is very laid-back, as well as the prints being playful. Therefore, I wanted to use contrast when designing the silhouettes. I decided to take inspiration from people and eras that portrayed elegance and sophistication. In this project that ended up being the 1920s, as well as amazing women like Gloria Vanderbilt, Audrey Hepburn and Diahann Carroll.

It was important for me to let the printed fabric be highlighted so I worked on a shape that would make that possible. I ended up with a very simple dress that I made three different versions of. I used three of the fabrics I printed on two dresses, then the third dress was made in a light viscose to see how the prints would work together with stripes/other fabrics. 

One of my main goals in this project was to create something that I felt was «enough.» The balance between «too much» and «not enough» is difficult, but important for me to master. 

The process from start to finish is always very interesting as you never know where you´ll end up. Sometimes you might not even like where you end up. But I think the process and concept behind are equally as important as the actual design-part. To be able to express yourself or communicate something through fashion adds depth to an otherwise superficial field.  

Photography; Mario de la Ossa. Models; Amanda O. Storaunet, Ingrid Isabella B. Haugnes, Linn Øymo. Hair/Makeup: Gina Gundersen.

Photography; Mario de la Ossa. Models; Amanda O. Storaunet, Ingrid Isabella B. Haugnes, Linn Øymo. Hair/Makeup: Gina Gundersen.

Can you show us some of your earlier projects?

This project was the first one I made at KHIO. The theme was white. I designed this dress by playing around with collages and ended up with a result consisting of lines and shapes coming together into one dress.


This project was character-based. I chose Kim Kardashian. She is very different from myself so I wanted to see how that would work in a design- process. I wanted it to be «her» as well as representative of myself as a designer.

This project was a knitting project where I focused on the Norwegian cultural heritage. I took inspiration from Setesdalen as I am half «setesdalsk.»

How would you describe your own style compared to the clothes you design? 

It changes from day to day, all depending on the mood. But in two words; laid back and feminine. The clothes I design are usually glamorous, elegant and a bit «extra.» So a bit different from my own style but if the mood is right I can be a bit «extra» too.

What are your goals as a designer? 

Ethics and sustainability is very important to me. So to be able to let that be central to my work is very crucial to me. As well as always creating, exploring, evolving, growing in my skills and knowledge. 

From a trip to Israel.

From a trip to Israel.

Where do you get inspiration from?

So much! I get inspiration from people, art, books, movies, architecture and everything in nature (especially the ocean!) to say some.  

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

Fashion design is a hobby and a passion that I hope to be able to make a living out of. Whether or not that becomes a reality is unknown at this time, hehe. I’m currently on my last year of the bachelors degree, so time will tell what happens. It is a tough industry with a lot of competition. I knew that before I started studying. But I’ve realized it’s even harder than I had thought, especially if you want to make «a name for yourself.» Even if you sacrifice a lot and work super hard, that might not be enough. It’s not just about your ability to create. It has a lot to do with timing, network as well as coincidence/destiny/blessing or whatever you’d like to call it. The future of a fashion designer is most often uncertain. But I know that if I never try I will never know! But I hope that I am able to live comfortably, not always stressing about when the next pay check will come. To be appreciated and respected for my work. To work with people that treats me well and that always pushes and challenges me, and vice versa. And most importantly; use fashion as a way of creating new friendly, ethical and sustainable workplaces.

Go follow Ina on Instagram here and here!

All photos are taken by Ina unless stated otherwise.