REPOST: WHAT AMERICAN-MADE BRANDS REALLY THINK OF TRUMP'S 'MADE IN AMERICA WEEK'

One of my clients, Battenwear was interviewed for this recent GQ article that discusses Donny's 'Made in US' utopia and the disadvantages his policies pose on manufacturing in general. 

Despite being a part of the Made in US 'revival' since its early stages, I understand the need for globalization (we can't get much woven fabric from the US for example because we sold most of our looms to other countries in the 70s and 80s). Single origin products are pretty hard to come by these days in the garment industry, so NAFTA and other trade agreements are actually really vital to our industry.

So... if you ever wondered what some brands think of Mr Donny's policies, follow this link to read.

 
 

FASHION FILMS - PRADA CINÉMA

Since 'fashion film' first became a concept, I've been following, helping conceptualize, producing, and most importantly critiquing them. What makes a fashion film different from a commercial? I think the main distinction is that a fashion film tells a story and is less about the product. But that's really open to discussion.

This season, Prada made a fashion film that I think illustrates the difference between a fashion film and a commercial perfectly. And though there's more than one way to get to the top of a mountain, this route is my personal favorite.

 
 

David Lynch did a bunch with Dior and Marion Cottilard several years back that I also love. Pointless, sure... beautiful, definitely.

I love a good story with no meaning ❤️

#postmodern

HOW BUTTONS ARE MADE

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Best Made Company. We made a lot of clothes in NYC, but we also worked in Europe and Peru.

This spring, while we were in Portugal, we toured a button factory, so I thought I'd share this little video. The coolest part about this factory, is that they recycle all left overs and make more buttons with them too!

How many times have you use buttons without even thinking about how much work goes into making them? 

Enjoy

 
 

KNIT FABRICS VS WOVEN FABRICS

 
 

I am often explaining the difference between knit and woven fabrics to my clients, so I thought I'd put a simplified version of all that are textiles in writing for reference.

FIBER

All fabrics are made from fibers. Fibers can be natural (silk, linen, cotton, hemp, wool, alpaca, cashmere, angora, etc) or synthetic (rayon, nylon, polyester, spandex). Some fibers are synthesized from plants, and so despite being synthetic, they are sometimes called "natural man-made fibers" (bamboo rayon, tencel, modal, cupro).

Spandex fibers are the only fibers that currently provide the most reliable stretch in fabrics. When spandex is used, it is generally the core of the yarn strand, and the other fibers are then spun around the spandex fiber.

YARN

All fabrics are made from yarn. The yarns can be composed of a variety of fibers. When fabrics are made from a blend of fibers (say Poly/Cotton/Spandex, for instance) most of the time the yarn is spun with these fibers mixed together on the same strand.

Yarns can be thick or very thin. The width of the yarn strand is known as a gauge.

Almost any gauge of yarn can be knit or woven into a textile. Some heavy gauge yarns, however, can only be sweater knit.

Yarn can be knit or woven as PFD (prepared for dyeing), which is a natural color, or the yarn can be dyed ahead of time to create a desired color. When stripes are desired, two different solid colored yarns are used on the same fabric. When heathers are desired, the yarn fibers are either dyed a variety of colors before being spun together, or the entire yarn strand is dyed one color, but because the fibers react to the dye differently, the yarn itself gets a heather look. When space dyed looks are desired, a single strand of yarn is dyed a several colors every few centimeters or inches.

 
Space dyed yarn

Space dyed yarn

 

KNIT FABRICS

Knit fabrics are made with a single strand of yarn that is looped to itself. Think: ball of yarn and two knitting needles. 

Knits generally have what we call 'mechanical stretch,' because since the yarn is looped to itself, when pulled on, the fabric will spring back to its original condition, even without spandex fibers present in the yarn. Over time, most fabrics with 100% natural fibers do not keep their shape as well because of the nature of the fiber, but anything knit that is blended with synthetics has a higher chance of keeping its shape longer. When spandex is used in knit fabrics, even with natural fibers, the fabric is made to stretch and will maintain its shape fairly well.

There are many types of looping techniques that can be used in knitting. The texture of the fabric is dependent on the loop technique used. The weight of the fabric is dependent on the gauge of yarn used.

Knits tend to be more fragile than woven fabrics.

 
Knit loops

Knit loops

 

WOVEN FABRICS

Woven fabrics are made using two yarns. One going horizontally across the width of the fabric, and the other going vertically across the length of the fabric. The yarn across the width of the fabric is called the weft yarn, and the yarn running the length of the fabric is called the warp yarn.

Woven fabrics can also have some element of mechanical stretch, but this stretch is generally much less than that of a non-stretch knit fabric. When spandex is used in woven fabrics, it can either be used only in the warp yarn or only in the weft yarn, or in both yarns. When spandex is present in only one of the yarns, it provides what we call a two-way stretch. When spandex is present in both of the yarns, it offers four-way stretch.

Weft yarns are used to weave in and out of the warp yarns. This is done by using a loom. The warp yarns are set up on the loom, and the weft yarn is then woven in and out of the warp before it is tightly pushed together by a reed.

Though mechanical weaving machines are ubiquitous in this day, many woven fabrics are still done on hand looms like the image below.

 
 

Because woven fabrics are made from two yarns, two colors of yarn can be used to make patterns such as plaids, herringbone or tweed looks. When denim is made, it is often made with white or natural weft yarn, and blue warp yarn, which is why traditional denim has one color on the face of the fabric, and another on the back of the fabric.

Also as are result of the warp and weft yarns, woven fabrics can be very, very strong, even when two thin yarns are woven together. Silk habotai for example, is very thin, but because silk yarn itself is rather durable, and the thin yarns can be woven very tightly together, the fabric is very tear and snag resistant despite its lightness in weight.


Here are some cool illustrations I found from Carrie Parry that show how some natural fabrics are woven from fiber to finished product

COTTON FABRIC


CUPRO


SILK


Illustrations from Carrie Parry

COURTNEY CADY, SHALLOW FASHION 2016


WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MADE IN USA PRODUCTS

 
 

For a few years now, there has been a returned interest to manufacturing in the US. But the market has yet to adjust their expectations of what this means.

From a brand side, this means higher costs, which is obvious, but it also means smaller order quantities. While fast-fashion can be done in the US, a majority of domestic manufacturers are really made to support the slow-fashion ethos.

This means less than 1000 units as an opening order. But it also means more than 50. Most brands who come to me, think they can start a business with 50 pieces of one style. Not ideal for anyone. First of all, your website is going to look sparse, and second of all, you are going to pay nearly double what it would cost to create 3 or more products at once, with at least 150-300 piece opening orders.

From a retail side, this means higher price points. No more $20.00 sweatshirts. If the fabric costs $8.00 in total, and the tags add another $2.00, plus the sewing is $10.00 or more, how can a brand sell a US made sweatshirt for $20.00? They can't. And if people want to support fair labor practices, support domestic manufacturing and they wish to purchase a quality product, then the expectation of a $20.00 sweatshirt should be left for the Made in China companies.

And while Made in China (or made anywhere else besides US and Europe) doesn't mean low quality or unfair labor practices by default, it does mean a larger impact on the environment and on our economy. Also, companies who produce overseas are more likely to make a higher profit more easily, but the money they invested to turn the profit isn't recirculated into our economy, it is spent overseas where the goods were made.

So it's really just a conversation about values. If you want a $20.00 sweatshirt, buy it from a Made in China company. But if you want to buy something made with a slow-fashion ethos, buy US Made. I think as of right now, it's a mix of both for even the conscious consumer, because we can't always afford that $200.00 dress. But if more people begin to understand both the manufacturing perspective and the consumer perspective, US made could be revived in an impactful way in the future.

The choice is ours.


COURTNEY CADY, SHALLOW FASHION 2016


HOW TO START A CLOTHING LINE

 
Illustration: Carrie Parry

Illustration: Carrie Parry

 

Below is a quick checklist of the things you'll need before you can start your clothing line:

Boring back-end things:

  1. Registered business name
  2. Wholesale license
  3. Federal Tax ID #

Business-oriented things:

  1. Sales model
  2. Retail price point

Once you've gotten all that off your checklist, you will need to decide when you'd like to launch. Even if you are only doing direct to consumer (web sales), it is important to consider the fashion calendar. Click here to see general deadlines according to the fashion calendar.

Only after this, do you get to do the fun, creative things.

Fun, creative things:

  1. Moodboard
  2. Color story
  3. Lineplan

After your lineplan is established, the following technical items should be in place:

  1. Fit
  2. Fabrics
  3. Trim

Many people struggle with this part of the process, so this is where a services like the Shallow Fashion come in handy. Fit is very tricky. So is finding fabric sources. And who is going to make your samples? This is all information that is usually beyond a new brand's scope.

You can try your best to figure this part out on your own, or if you have the funds, it is a very good idea to find consultants or product development services that can help you along the way.

Shallow Fashion offers these services for the entire United States. Please contact us if you need these types of services.


COURTNEY CADY, SHALLOW FASHION 2014


FASHION CALENDARS

 
 

Even if you sell direct to consumer (have a web store), it is good to follow the fashion calendar to make sure your collections are ready to sell each shopping season.

It would be a disaster to start selling something new when all the other stores are putting items out on sale. For example, fall merchandise goes on sale just before winter, so it wouldn't make sense to try to have anything new at full price for sale during this time. It would be better to either sell full price merchandise during the regular fall season, or simply wait to sell it in winter.


Here is a brief outline of deadlines you can use for the fashion calendar. This calendar will help you understand what stores and consumers expect of clothing lines.

 

FASHION DELIVERY CALENDAR

FALL COLLECTIONS (AW)
DELIVERY 1: JULY 1 - JULY 30
DELIVERY 2: AUGUST 1 - AUGUST 30 

WINTER COLLECTIONS (RESORT)
ONE DELIVERY: OCTOBER 15 - NOVEMBER 25

SPRING COLLECTIONS (SS)
DELIVERY 1: FEBRUARY 1 - FEBRUARY 28
DELIVERY 2: MARCH 1 - MARCH 30

SUMMER COLLECTIONS (PRE-FALL)
ONE DELIVERY: MAY 15 - JUNE 15

 

*SOME LINES DESIGN FOUR COLLECTIONS A YEAR, WHILE OTHERS DESIGN TWO. THIS IS ENTIRELY YOUR CHOICE.


If you are going to do wholesale, it is important to make sure you honor the market calendar as well. Each region is different, so it is good to look up specific market weeks for exact dates, but here is a rough outline of deadlines:

 

FASHION MARKET CALENDAR

FALL COLLECTIONS (AW)
SHOW JANUARY - FEBRUARY

WINTER COLLECTIONS (RESORT)
SHOW IN MARCH - APRIL

SPRING COLLECTIONS (SS)
SHOW IN JULY - AUGUST

SUMMER COLLECTIONS (PRE-FALL)
SHOW IN OCTOBER - NOVEMBER

*SOME LINES SHOW FOUR TIMES A YEAR, WHILE OTHERS SHOW TWICE. THIS IS YOUR CHOICE.


COURTNEY CADY, SHALLOW FASHION 2014