- Magdalene Chan
Jill Fraser, the San Francisco designer who cofounded vegan brand Jill Milan in 2010, talks fashion, who and what inspires her, and why she loves San Francisco. Her values influence her work and mission, and she’s worked with many San Francisco locals as well as top celebrities. We find out more.
Why did you get into Fashion?
My mother went to fashion school in New York, and so I assume I got my interest in fashion from her.
What do you love about Fashion?
My degrees are from Oxford in history and I’m very interested in historical and cultural influences on fashion.
What inspired you to be a designer?
I work with our designers who have been veterans of Prada and other luxury houses. The inspiration for starting the company came from my inability to find very high quality handbags that weren’t made of leather.
What inspires your designs?
Many of our customers have backgrounds in the arts and most are very highly educated. We always start by asking ourselves what their interests and needs are. In general, I think our designs are very urban and minimalistic.
What do you love about San Francisco?
The city encourages change and individualism. For instance, San Francisco has been occupied by Spanish settlers, gold miners, Chinese immigrants, and later dot-comers. These individuals all left their families and friends behind to seek a better life. San Francisco is a city of risk-takers and more than a few mavericks.
Vision and Mission
My vision is to create a vegan brand that is on par with some of the finest European brands. To do this, we source the best Italian fabrics, manufacture at family-owned ateliers in Italy, and never compromise on quality in any way. For instance, all the ateliers we work with have been owned by the same families for generations and they all have worked with leading luxury brands such as Bulgari.
We have developed products and donated proceeds from sales of items to charities that support animal welfare issues, the arts, and provide financial support to families in need that have been affected by cancer.
My great-grandfather was the renowned architect, Lucius Briggs, who designed throughout the early part of the 20th century, so I greatly admire San Francisco’s architecture—the Art Deco influences, for instance. In San Francisco, too, there are so many opportunities to partner with charitable causes. For instance, we hope to be working the San Francisco SPCA this summer to produce a fashion show. Finally, San Francisco has an extremely vibrant arts community, which makes the city very interesting and stimulating.
Celebrities Who Have Carried Jill Milan
Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Poehler, Carrie Underwood, Hailee Steinfeld, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Hilary Duff, Bellamy Young, Laura Dern, Katie Lowes, Isla Fisher, Rachel Nichols, Rashida Jones, Stana Katic, Bryce Dallas Howard, Margot Bingham, Elizabeth Hurley, Jaime King, Caity Lotz, Ashley Jones, Sarah Hyland, Jane Fonda, Katharine McPhee, Nicole Gale Anderson, Laila Ali, Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, Fiona Gubelmann, and Countess Michelle Czernin von Chudenitz.
Jill Milan has been carried to the premieres of The Dark Knight Rises (Anne Hathaway), Django Unchained (Kerry Washington), Les Miserables (Anne Hathaway), Rise of the Guardians (Isla Fisher), American Horror Story (Fiona Gubelmann), Game of Thrones (Stana Katic); Devious Maids (Eva Longoria); Alex Cross (Rachel Nichols).
Jill Milan has appeared at these awards ceremonies: American Music Awards (Carrie Underwood); Emmy Awards (Amy Poehler); Golden Globes (Rashida Jones, Katie Lowes), (Bryce Dallas Howard); SAG Awards (Laura Dern, Margot Bingham, Nicole Gale Anderson); Independent Spirit Awards (Stana Katic); Saturn Awards (Countess Michelle Czernin von Chudenitz); Critic’s Choice Awards (Jaime King); Satellite Awards (Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark); Genesis Awards (Fiona Gubelmann).
Jill Milan has been featured in W, Vogue.com, The Zoe Report, The Knot, Lucky Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bag Snob, Us Weekly, Vancity Buzz, Perez Hilton, The Huffington Post, Purse Blog, and many other publications.