“I want fashion to be more colourful, more positive, more future,” Cassette Playa designer Carri Munden once declared. Her new project with the original British jelly shoe company JuJu is all those things - despite causing a petty twitter feud between the Azealia Banks and Rita Ora tribes of who brought it back first, after Ora uploaded a picture of the pair Munden gave her on Instagram. Whatever the case, it’s no ordinary revival with CP x JuJu, a new collection of two jelly shoes by Munden in glittery blue and pink with printed decals, signature Cassette Playa style. She even points out JuJu’s modern potential beyond 90s nostalgia: “To me it looks quite futuristic with the plastic and the mould, which makes it look as if it’s been laser cut or 3D printed.” Given the shoes are likely to flood the festival fields this summer, there is no better cue for wearing them differently. Dazed catches up with the English designer.
Dazed Digital: JuJu was all the rage when it launched in 1986 but it had gone quiet until recently. How did the collaboration come about?
Carri Munden: I love JuJu, I have a glittery silver pair from the 90s that I bought from Dolcis when I was 13 – all the teenage girls used to buy all our chunky heels from there in the 90s – and I still wear them. I thought I’d like to do my own pair so I looked them up on the Internet and contacted them. I was excited to see that they were still made in the UK. Their factory is like Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory! Everything’s brightly coloured and there are all these weird granules of glitter everywhere, and the machinery was fascinating. They’re like these jelly wizards up there in Northhampton.
DD: Tell us about the inspiration behind your JuJu shoes...
Carri Munden: I wanted to do holographic glitter with coloured jelly, so we did quite a bit of experimentation, as it’s quite hard actually. They’ve never done coloured glitter before. The jelly has to have a level of translucency or you won’t see the glitter anymore. I think the blue style looks like a universe! And I wanted to introduce some print to tie it with my brand, so we’ve done an all-over decal with hearts and pyramids.
DD: What’s your most memorable experience wearing JuJu?
Carri Munden: Oh my god, I got up to lots when I was a teenager, I don’t know how much of it I want to share! I used to always wear them and I continue to wear them. Everyone tends to think of wearing jelly shoes on the beach especially growing up near the seaside, but for me it was more about going clubbing and stuff like that. And these blue ones glow in the UV!
DD: What is it about them that you love?
Carri Munden: Obviously the chunky heel – I like to be able to run around. I also like that they’re quite cartoon despite their strong identity and always wanted that in my work. I love comic books and cartoons with their bold outlines and like thinking about how that translates into a human being. And I love the smell of the rubber, it reminds me of toys and being playful. I tried to make our campaign shoot fun but sexy too.
DD: You’ve referenced a 'Jelly Babes' shoot from The Sun in the 90s for your campaign...
Carri Munden: I loved that it was a real Sun-style fashion shoot with babes, it looked slutty, all the girls had wet t-shirts on. In the factory, they had it up on the wall in the toilets! I wanted to recreate that as it works really well with my aesthetic. What I liked about it was that it showed a real British sense of the pin-up girl. We usually think of pin-ups as these super-tanned, fake tits, LA-plastic and Hollywood-porno kind of women, whereas British Page Three girls feel more playful.
I worked with three girls, two of whom are Suicide girls, who are like an alternative version of glamour models with tattoos and piercings – or just different looking. I’ve kind of been stalking them on the Internet. I’m also interested in the scenester culture, and given what I was referencing, the team I worked with had to really understand it. It turned out to be a little power team!
DD: You’re known for challenging perceptions of masculinity in your main line but what does femininity mean to you?
Carri Munden: It’s about inner strength and knowing yourself, and not being afraid to be girly, feminine or a woman.
DD: Will we see your JuJu shoes on the celebrities and pop stars you often collaborate with?
Carri Munden: I hope so! I gave a pair to Rita Ora as she was going out to Australia for her tour and she Instagram-ed a picture of them. Azealia Banks got into like a fight with her and I felt kind of responsible. All her fans got into a Twitter feud… but I liked how Rita dealt with that, it was very positive and she doesn’t really get involved in that bitchy schoolgirl shit of who wore them first. You know how fans get obsessive. Rita was my first choice because she’s womanly, has an amazing body and also really playful in the way she dresses. She can do super sexy and tomboy, so she was a total muse for me.
DD: You’ve worked with a wealth of artists such as M.I.A, Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky, so you must get a lot of requests to work with various brands...
Carri Munden: I’d never do something for the sake of money or for hype, it’s got to be a connection with the collaborator and have an element of challenge. Not since Nike or Stüssy have I done something on such a mass level and for girls – though guys could look totally hot wearing them! So that interested me. I don’t see it as compromising working on a mass level.
DD: Your work is individual and independent, you don’t run within the fashion system. Is it difficult to stay positive?
Carri Munden: I love fashion and how accelerated it is but it gets quite formulaic and I get bored quickly. I didn’t do a full collection in the last few seasons, and most of my presentations have been film or digital-based, as I wanted to bring like a real intimate interaction with the audience. But there are reasons why there are formulas, when you do a catwalk it’s easy for press and buyers to see the clothes and collection and understand it. When I work with digital, I’m showing more of a concept. It hasn’t made things easier but hopefully it’s built an identity. While I don’t care what people think, I listen to the people who support me and have personal relationships with the loyal buyers and stores. I travel a lot so I see what’s going on and how people wear my clothes in different countries, which all helps.
DD: The notion of tribes and paganism is central to your work. How would you describe the Cassette Playa tribe? Do you consider it anti-fashion?
Carri Munden: I’m not really interested in dictating to people, I’m interested in personal style and self-expression. And I think as human beings we all want to connect with something or someone else, so whether it’s tribes like in the Amazon or Papua New Guinea, or whether it’s a style or subcultural tribe, it’s a powerful concept. With Cassette Playa, I’ve always had the idea of attracting people with fragmented identities but who feel unified. It’s about being fearless, about knowing yourself and about being respectful to others. Some people might just get it on an aesthetic level but I think a lot of others who wear my clothes are interested in the research that I do or the concepts behind it, and they take it to very different levels.
DD: What helps you keep ahead of the curve?
Carri Munden: I think it’s that intense thirst for knowledge and understanding. I’m genuinely into all these stuff and want to be challenged. That always drives me forward. Doing collections also give me the opportunity to choose elements I’m interested in and geek out and learn. And even though I’m into so many things, I think there’s a thread for all I’m into; whether it’s fantasy or something quite primal.