Fashion, Fetish and Freedom: The Ethical Avante-Garde RITUAL

“Somewhere out there in the universe there is a dream being dreamed that will save us all. In this time of crumbling eco-systems and rampant apathy, the dreams of the artists are the best chance we have to get to the other side. We have to dream of something better, to become something bigger.”

I read these words in one of RITUAL’s blog posts, and found myself smiling at the drive and hope that Jillian Ann, co-founder of fashion brand RITUAL, constantly pours into the world through her clothing line – it’s a true extension of her own beliefs and personality.

RITUAL has been featured in Vogue and Marie Claire. It’s been worn or featured by the likes of Rihanna, Paris Hilton, David Guetta and Nicki Minaj, and featured on programmes including Gotham and The Flash. Yet labelling this a fashion brand alone feels almost feeble, and I’ve found myself pondering how to explain the very essence of RITUAL, when it seems to encompass an entire lifestyle within its roots.

Featuring the Stardust Jacket by RITUAL

One may call it an equilibrium between opposing concepts or impressions: coy elegance between the folds of draping fabrics, and unabashed boldness shining through in the introduction of fetish-like bondage and tight, angled leather. Made for those who not only want to be styled like Selina Kyle, but also want to invoke the beauty that emerges from each garment, there’s a beautiful harmony between softness and attitude in RITUAL’s pieces. It brings “darkness into light”, as Jillian describes, creating a balance between all sides of ourselves. In her own words: “RITUAL was created in order to bring ceremony, devotion and RITUALS back into our lives. To reclaim the words for ourselves and our inner intentions and dreams.”

Featuring the Muse Gown and Magnetic Jacket by RITUAL

It is this undying fire to encourage self-expression and creativity, which makes RITUAL so enticing. Male and female couture merges the futuristic with the mythical. Androgynous accessories let you mix and match over multiple outfit designs. Yet the brand also encourages universal awareness as to how:

Everything is connected

Where do your clothes come from? Who were they made by? How long do you think they will last? Following in Jillian Ann’s own footsteps, the brand encourages its followers to listen to their own creative voice – and open their eyes to the true state of fashion and its effects on the world. Shifting concepts through insightful social media and blog posts, the very ethos of RITUAL itself is clearly displayed when you visit their website. With an entire section dedicated to explaining their sustainability, the brand explains how RITUAL works to reduce their environmental impact, and support an impressive Zero Waste Exchange Policy to buy back their leather garments (in good condition), to sell on to a new owner at a discounted rate. RITUAL even boasts a Lifetime Guarantee on leather products, fighting back in the age of disposable commodities. For those who don’t wear leather, alternatives also exist, and every leather garment can be made in silk or canvas, modal or other alternatives. Through the culture nourished here, it’s impossible for RITUAL wearers not to become more aware of where their clothes come from. In doing so, Jillian continues to educate.

Also a musician, model and activist, multi-artist Jillian Ann’s travels around the world opened her eyes to the ongoing destruction of our planet – and even our own species. “Creating RITUAL was the biggest personal challenge I ever accepted” Jillian Ann explains. “I saw first-hand how industrial fashion was impacting the environment as well as treating the workers as little more than modern day slaves and I wanted to change that. The only way I knew how to affect change was to just to do it. I also wanted to change how fashion was seen, made and worn and doing that meant creating the entire infrastructure from the ground up.”

Featuring the Sirius Duster by RITUAL

Featuring the Stardust Jacket and the Lyran Harness Dress By RITUAL

Self-funding the business from her modeling and music careers, the growth of RITUAL fell heavily on the trust that the sales would come in each week. “I used to do everything alone, and going from that to supporting over a hundred people in three countries was extremely daunting. I had to learn how to protect myself and everyone working for me. How to keep the system positive in the face of challenges – and working globally meant waking up to having to meet deadlines while dealing with challenges from volcanoes, floods and frauds.” There have been plenty of challenges along the way, and Jillian owes a lot of her capacity to face each trial to two books: The Kybalion (Hermetic Philosophy) and The Truth of the Tao.

The endless download: from home to the stars

Creativity is an “endless download” of absorbing the world around her, influences having accumulated from a lifetime of experiences. “I created RITUAL to be a home to house the creativity.” Jillian smiles. “Because I created it, there are no limitations to what I can create.” Home-schooled and friend-shy as a child, she rebelled from her strict religious household very young to search for her own personal Truth. “I ran away and saw all manner of things considered dark and light on my quest to find the truth, from raving till dawn, to being suspended from the ceiling, to mediating for ten days in silence. My designs are inspired by my spiritual journey, ceremony, personal rituals, dreams and the stars. Music and nature, art, my relationships… For me no one thing has influenced me more than the other. Everything taught me something; each lesson was needed to get to the next level. I find challenges and lessons to be vital to evolution and growth. I learned a lot through the hardest moments; then I appreciated the beautiful moments more.”

Featuring the Altair Vest and the Catsuit Leggings by RITUAL

Her most recent collection, STARS, moves Jillian Ann once again into a new direction. Rather than designing and releasing the collection at once, she is sharing it piece by piece. With a few designs already released in 2018, the year ahead promises to be even more exciting: “I have tons of new designs I will be rolling out over the next year and I’m working on a men’s and couture line to add to it. The collection is inspired by that process of moving through darkness and loss into the light, without denying any of the feelings around it.”

2018 also marked the cementing of RITUAL’s new showroom in the fashion district of Los Angeles. The private showroom, by appointment only, will host a selection of exclusive events trunk shows and previews of new designs.

Featuring the Nuclear Dress by RITUAL

Featuring the Venus Jacket by RITUAL and Crystal Necklace by Clayton Beck for RITUAL

Featuring the Lyran Cuffs, the Lyran Harness, the RITUAL Corset and Arwynn Dress by RITUAL

The never-ending battle for balance

As ever, the battle for sustainability within her brand is constant – and Jillian Ann continues to look for new ways to move RITUAL forward in harmony with the earth and its people. “Nature has always been my sanctuary. Seeing it ripped apart and destroyed has broken my heart. Fashion is one of the top destructive forces to our planet and one of the least talked about, because fashion is dependent on a short lifecycle in order to keep moving new pieces. ‘Fast fashion’ has created a destructive force both environmentally as well as around human rights.”
The research into longer lasting, even more eco-friendly materials such as Lenzing modal is ongoing, as it is into leather alternatives such as pineapple and mushroom leathers, latex and recycled tires. Leather used is solely the bi-product of the meat industry, yet she is aware of the growing voice speaking out against animal skins being used at all.

“This is a conversation point I feel is vital to shift in our collective awareness. I spend a huge amount of time reflecting on animal rights and I dug really deep into the life, death, and treatment of animals not only as a source of food but fashion components. Plastic used in fashion or elsewhere, has a greater and worse impact on the wearer, the planet, and the animals. It is easy to point a finger at leather and fur rather than looking beyond the easy judgment. I can’t bring myself to use plastic-based materials as a primary source because of what plastic is doing to the planet. The dying process is highly destructive and will not decompose. The manufacturing of plastic based textile causes massive pollution and is often done in developing countries where the leftover chemicals are dumped into the air, ground or water systems. We do not see the impact in developed countries – but after spending a good amount of time off the tourism grid in developing countries, the impact is devastation. That part of the manufacturing process is hidden, yet is a harsh reality.”

Featuring the Halcyon Jacket by RITUAL & Crystal Harness by RITUAL & Clayton Beck

Featuring the Stardust Jacket by RITUAL

Practicing what she preaches, Jillian Ann’s dreams of something better have been the foundation for the enticingly individual RITUAL brand. In its heart and voice, she has created a lifestyle which will continue to evolve alongside life itself. No doubt, as our world continues to bear the burden of fast fashion and unethical practices, RITUAL stands tall to light the way to a different path that consumers can take. A path to something bigger; something wild, free and fierce, yet still connected to the earth.

“Trust has been the only way I have been able to create what I have.” Jillian muses. “I’m prepared for any future challenges. What prepared me was building something from nothing, then losing everything I thought I could believe in – and learning how to stay strong enough to not let it, or me, break.

I’m happy with where I am and RITUAL is now because I learned how creative, strong and resourceful we can all be when we are passionate about what we are creating. Bend, cry, move, adapt, evolve… but not break or give up.”


Featuring the Lyran Cuffs, the Lyran Harness, the RITUAL Corset and Arwynn Dress by RITUAL

Featuring the Stardust Jacket by RITUAL

Featuring the Aramaki Hood and Catsuit Leggings by RITUAL, with the Crystal Harness by RITUAL & Clayton Beck

Featuring the Lyran Harness Dress and Lyran Hoody Bodysuit by RITUAL

Featuring the Delphini Jacket by RITUAL

Featuring the Eva Harness by RITUAL. Dress by Alkemica

Featuring the Venus Jacket by RITUAL and Crystal Necklace by Clayton Beck for RITUAL

Note: The above featured pieces (including never-before-published images) are worn by RITUAL Designer and Model Jillian Ann, with photography by Clayton Beck Creative. Productions Supervisor: Ric De La Rosa. Special thanks to 775 Media.

To keep up to date on RITUAL’s journey, you can subscribe to their website, or follow RITUAL on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

About Author

Based in the UK, Natalia Joruk lives amongst a mass of art, nature, curious trinkets and green tea. As Deputy Editor, she works closely with the Editor-in-Chief, supporting with the design, curation and overall growth of Beautiful Bizarre and the annual Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize. She also oversees distribution of the magazine, so drop her a line if you know someone who would like to stock! One of her favourite perks is getting to know artists, gallery owners and their teams personally, so feel free to email her if there is anything she can help you with – or just to connect!


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