Before becoming a fashion academic at Westminster University, Andrew Groves ran the cult label Jimmy Jumble in early 90s London, embracing kitsch, kink and banality. Here, he talks about why he “allowed it to be chaotic”
By Joe Bobowicz
Back in the day, Professor Andrew Groves was a darn sight wilder, infamous for his alter-ego-cum-label, Jimmy Jumble. Outfitting himself and clubgoers of the early 1990s, the outspoken creative used his tongue-in-cheek garb as an antidote to what he saw as a scourge of puritanical design, placing kitsch and kink on a pedestal. Now an established academic working at Westminster University, Groves is a cited author and peer-reviewed researcher, but his prankster past remains a treasure trove for students and fashion collectors alike. Today, he answers our video call calm and collected, ready to discuss the fake-nipple dresses and ‘Fashion Police’ jackets that sparked his career.
“So precocious for a 22-year-old,” he says, having just read an interview he gave in an early issue of Dazed. In it, he slates popular designers of the time, proffering instead his irreverent blend of Hysteric Glamour meets Fiorucci and Jean Paul Gaultier. Credit to Groves, though: his work was strong enough to warrant co-signs from Kylie Minogue, Naomi Campbell, Kirsten Owen and the fiercest drag queens holding court in 90s London. In fact, this all came before he worked as head assistant to his former boyfriend Alexander McQueen. Only then would he complete his MA in fashion design under the late Louise Wilson’s watchful eyes, moonlighting as a designer for fetish brand Regulation. After graduating, he opened his eponymous label. Clearly, he was on to something.
Both a brand and persona, Jimmy Jumble began the year after Acid House’s Summer of Love. So the story goes, it was Groves’ birthday and he hadn’t received any presents. Preparing for the night ahead with friends at YMC co-founder Fraser Moss’ flat, he rumbled through the housing block’s mail, happening upon a black and gold lurex jumper to wear that evening. Moss crowned him Jimmy Jumble, and it stuck ever since.