About four years ago, I was invited by my mentor to accompany him and his team to China. The concept of the label was just coming together, and this was an incredible opportunity to get in on the ground floor, learn about the garment manufacturing industry and how I would want my production practices to take shape.
During the two-week trip, we toured manufacturing, knitting and embroidery factories of all different sizes. I was introduced to his friends and colleagues who let me ask candid questions and gave honest answers. I was overwhelmed with excitement and curiosity, soaking up every ounce of information I could.
One memory stands out in my mind. I was touring a small, certified factory in the outskirts of Dalian. They were making leather jackets, and I was wide-eyed and eager to see every step of the process. I texted a video clip to a friend, and his response was not what I was expecting. He was surprised to see the employees sitting at sewing machines, actually sewing. He thought that the garment manufacturing process these days was all automated, like so many other industries, and factory employees were responsible for surveying the machines that were making the clothes.
At first, I couldn't believe it, but then I thought about it a bit more. In a world where most things are made by machines, it's easy to think that our clothes were made by machines too. And then I wondered, if he thought this, how many other people have made that same assumption?
For one piece of clothing to come to life, many skilled hands are involved. Every seam, every pocket, every button has been done by hand. So really, every garment is handmade. And it's for that reason that we value honest & fair production practices.
Our pieces are designed by yours truly in Oakland, California. But some very important members of the studio family are in Dalian, China, where our sample making and manufacturing takes place. Rather than sourcing factories all over the world for the lowest possible price, I have chosen to invest in this community & the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses trying to compete with larger & more established ones.
In a day and age where overconsumption is so prevalent, it's more important than ever to invest in honest and quality pieces. Understanding who is making our clothes is a big part of that journey.