323's SS23 Relaunch is a Celebration of Comfort and Community

Founder Jillian Maddocks talks accessibility, reviving the brand and the future

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Shot by Sophia Schrank / Courtesy of 323

“Honestly I just felt like for me, as a parent, I'm my best person when I'm making things. It's the way I communicate, it's the way I connect with people," Jillian Maddocks, founder of 323, tells me as we dive into her decision to relaunch her label after a nearly two year hiatus. The brand, which Jillian started in 2015, is a celebration vulnerability, acceptance, and humor, anchored by comfort and accessibility. I spoke with Jillian to hear a bit about their relaunch collection for SS23—which “feels like a big hug from the creative, nurturing, unconditionally loving grandma we all wish we had”—and the future of the brand.

Starting 323

“When I first got out of school, my first job was at an ethical t-shirt company, and I was really excited about it. It seemed like a dream job, but I just realized really quickly I couldn't keep up physically with it in terms of the hours and the actual physical labor,” Jillian begins. She was soon surprised to learn that the production practices weren’t what she had anticipated. “Even for an ethical company, the way they treated their sewers and cutters, was really not okay with me,” she tells me, adding, “So I decided I'd rather not be in this industry at all if I can't just do it the way I wanna do it. And so I started my own business. That's where it came from, was just wanting to create this culture of community and collaboration and mutual respect.”

From the onset, Jillian made it a priority to produce the brand’s garments in an exceedingly ethical fashion. “My manufacturing process is, I use different sewers that work out of their homes. So I have a cutter that works out of a space in LA that I am able to visit often, and it's a good workspace. Then the rest of the sewers work out of their houses and studios. They're not subject to the same working conditions as people who are working factories.”

That's where [323] came from, was just wanting to create this culture of community and collaboration and mutual respect.

- Jillian Maddocks

After working on the brand for six years, Jillian took a hiatus in 2021 while she was pregnant with her first child. After stepping away to determine if her work should continue, “It was really clear, almost right away, how much I missed it.”

“It was such a privilege to spend that year at home working on my health and I am so grateful for that time,” Maddocks says. “Once I had a better grasp on my physical self, I decided to start feeding my creative self again and I can't express how much joy working on 323 has brought back into my life. Just being able to make art, clothing, work with incredible people—it's just so fun. 323 is a huge part of my identity and I had lost that for a while. 323 is truly my first baby and I'm so grateful to have her back!”

"I really was missing my identity when I first had my baby. Getting it back, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. This is how I communicate with the world,’” she tells me.

323 SS23

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"It's based in how parenthood is perceived versus how it is," Jillian explains the ethos behind the collection. "It's a very surreal time. It feels like you're kind of dreaming through it. So I really wanted to capture that feeling of, creating these clothes that kind of felt like fantasy, but also very functional and comfortable, which is always my main thing while designing. And I also really wanted to create clothes that are disability friendly and friendly to lots of different genders."

From an accessibility standpoint, Jillian incorporates or omits numerous techniques to make wearing the clothing easier for those with disabilities and/or chronic pain. She relies on elastics rather than buttons/zippers, and utilizes soft and loose fits that are comfortable for all bodies: “I try to make things really free and loose.”

“I feel really proud of it. I feel like it really shows where I am right now, which I feel really excited about,” she tells me.

For this collection, Jillian collaborated with artists Danny Miller and Daisy Rosa to create the boxes. They also happen to be the models of the project, and dear friends of Jillian’s. You can see the relationship between them and Jillian/the brand imbued in the imagery.

The future

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When I ask Jillian about the future, she’s exited about her plan to move to Portland—a bittersweet one as someone who grew up in LA, but a welcome change: "I'm excited for a new environment and some new inspiration." As far as work goes, she tells me: “I'm really excited to make new stuff. I feel I'm starting to get that itch to make more and to kind of go into that zone again.”

We close by discussing Jillian’s favorite aspect of running the brand for eight years now, and her answer is entirely about how it allows her to interact with others: “It feels like I can really connect with people in this way that I would've never expected. That's definitely my favorite part. Meeting people.”

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