It isn’t often that you get to see a collection of a famous star’s costumes up close and personal. But at this year’s national conference in Nashville we had the privilege of displaying nine of Dolly Parton’s costumes at our Welcome Reception. (It would have been ten costumes but I’ll get to that story.) We worked with some of the ladies who used to sew for Dolly, in particular Lynn Lesher, to secure the display. In addition, one of our own members, Alania Sheeley, who also lives in Nashville, used to sew for Dolly and was a huge help in setting up the display. Big kudos also go out to Rachel Kurland who brought three dress forms from home that were small enough to accommodate Dolly’s figure.
It was quite a challenge to get all of those dress forms to fit Dolly’s costumes! We had to stuff, prod, and poke those mannequins until we got them just right. The reason we couldn’t show the tenth costume was that we simply didn’t have a dress form small enough to handle the 23” waistline. Most of the costumes had about a 24” waist so we squeezed the garments onto the forms and didn’t zip some of them all the way, but that last one was just not going on any form we had.
We would have advertised the display earlier so that all of our members knew about the event, but we didn’t fully secure the costumes until the week before conference. Lynn Lesher corralled three other people from Dolly’s staff and from Textile Fabrics to help collect and transport the costumes to conference.
We learned a few things from those who worked/work for Dolly while dressing the mannequins: Dolly only wears each costume once. And she may change 4 – 5 times a day when she’s on the road. Dolly then donates her costumes and they are auctioned off in order to raise money for her foundations, one being to buy books for children under 5 years old. 655,000 children received books from Dolly’s Imagination Library in 2012 alone. Since its inception the program has distributed 45 million books. The costumes we were lent for exhibition covered a range of styles. Whether leather, tweed, or feathers, Dolly always pays attention to style and works closely with her designers.
It was a huge bonus to be able to view Dolly’s costumes and to have Lynn and Alania there to talk about their past experiences sewing for Dolly. Dolly’s home is in Nashville, so it was only “fitting” that we have her costumes on display there!
Written by Debbie Bone-Harris, VP of Membership
This year’s Volunteer Project at the ASDP conference in Nashville started with a snag and ended up fabulous due to the ingenuity and many helping hands of our members. It had been requested that members donate fabric and thread to make aprons for Thistle Farms’ Thistle Stop Café. While preparing the room beforehand, we realized the sewing machines were missing. There was plenty of cutting to do, so our initial thought was we could at least cut them out and ask volunteers to take aprons home to be completed.
Never underestimate the power of ASDP members! Two ladies had sewing machines at the hotel and scurried to their rooms to get them. Then a classroom serger was put into action. Extra irons and ironing boards were confiscated from various rooms and we were on a roll. Sewers began working on aprons that had been previously cut out and others started working at the cutting stations. As the cutting progressed, the sewers were asked to work on the ties and neck straps so they could be turned right side out and pressed. Soon the apron seam allowances were being pressed and unsewn aprons were assembled into complete units. The 3 hours flew by and in the end we had 11 completed aprons to give to Thistle Farms the next day. Approximately 25 more aprons, in various stages of completion, were picked up by several members to be completed at home and then forwarded to Thistle Farms.
We would like to thank members for their donations of fabric and thread, the use of their cutting mats, rotary cutters and sewing machines. Thank you to the members who took aprons home to complete and sent them on to Thistles Farms at their own expense. The quick action of everyone getting the process in motion in an efficient and orderly manner was greatly appreciated. It is amazing what this talented group of ladies can do when we work together. We accomplished what we set out to do and had some fun and lively conversation while doing it.
Thank you again to everyone involved
Written by Kathy Levy
I must confess I did not know who the designer Manuel was. That was until I went on his studio tour in Nashville. Wow - have I been missing glitz and bling! Manuel is a designer for Rock & Roll and Country acts. The man is not a fashion designer; he is a costumer and an artist. His original designs have become the trademark of true American style. One name says it all; he is Manuel. He is often referred to as the “Rhinestone Rembrandt,” Here is a little history and background of Manuel.
He was born Manuel Arturo José Cuevas Martínez Sr.on April 23, 1938 in Coalcomán de Vázquez Pallares in Mexico as the fifth of twelve children of Esperanza and José Guadalupe Cuevas. Manuel’s fascination with his craft began at the age of seven, when his older brother, Adolfo, taught him how to sew. As a young boy growing up in a small village in Mexico, Manuel Cuevas Martinez once sold oranges on the side of the road to make money for a ticket to see a Western starring the Lone Ranger. Years later, as the chief designer in famed Western wear purveyor Nudie Cohen’s shop in California, Manuel’s first custom order was to design a shirt for none other than Clayton Moore - the Lone Ranger himself. From the time his brother first sat him at a sewing machine, Manuel’s destiny was set and he knew America was the place to make his dreams come true. He has made his own clothes ever since. During this time Manuel mastered a wide scope of the clothier’s art, including leather working, hat making, silver working and boot making.
In the late 1940’s Manuel began to commission prom dresses to the girls in his hometown saving his earnings to move to the USA. During the 1930s and ‘40s, as cowboy stars Tom Mix and Gene Autry rose to stardom, several immigrant custom tailors also found prominence. Rodeo Ben, Nathan Turk and Nudie Cohen brought their colorful fabrics, whimsical detailed embroidery, and elements of Slavic folk art to their designs, and the Western entertainers were soon snatching them up as quickly as they could be turned out.
With a natural flair for color and cloth, Manuel arrived in Los Angeles during the height of this era in the mid-1950s, and took a job as a fitter with Sy Devore, the Hollywood tailor to clients including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and the Rat Pack. However, he soon became bored with everyday clothing. Soon after, he went to work at the studio of master embroiderer Viola Grae, who taught him how to use the embroidery machines that are crucial to his design process today and where he met Nudie Cohn. He started work for Cohn around 1960, and later became head tailor and then head designer. He then married Nudie Cohn’s daughter, Barbara L. Cohn on September 4, 1965 in Los Angeles. They had a son, Manuel Cuevas, Jr. (born 1973) and they divorced around 1975.
Soon after opening his shop around 1974, Manuel purchased a dozen or so machines from the infamous designer, Nathan Turk. Turk had just closed up his business, Turk of Hollywood, due to health reasons. In a generous gesture, Turk never cashed Manuel’s check for those machines. Manuel has always admired Nathan Turk and has given credit to Turk for some of his inspirations. Manuel, himself has also been known to be generous in giving a few of his creations away to some of the newer up-coming country musicians who otherwise would do without. He then moved on to the world of costumes at Nudie’s famed western store, designing for the likes of Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. After 14 years in western wear, Manuel branched out and opened his own shop in North Hollywood, Manuel Couture. Eventually Manuel relocated to Nashville, TN in 1989 to continue his association with the music industy. The previous address was 1922 Broadway, Nashville, TN. It is a beautiful four-story 20th century building. A 7000 square foot brick house built in 1904 as brothel! When Manuel moved his company into this building he didn’t change a thing. The ornately detailed sliding doors, wooden trim, mantel and fireplaces matched the exquisite aesthetic of the garments they house. During the summer of 2013, Manuel began to move to his current location 800 Broadway. When we toured the new location, the company had been “settled in” for only a few weeks.
Manuel’s studio is so impressive on so many levels. First, every garment is made in-house and by-hand. Every Swarovski crystal is set by hand, a very tedious job considering the thousands and thousands that are on some garments. There are so many items to look at when you are in his studio; you do not know where to begin looking. Bling & glitz everywhere! There are garments for sale in the studio as it is also a retail store in the front of the building. You can try on garments, but I must warn you—they are heavy with all those crystals!!! To set all of these crystals, there is a 1951 stone setter machine that sets all of the Swarovski’s - it is the machine of choice compared to the newer machines.
Manuel himself works in his studio every day alongside his seamster, Carlos Bonola. Manuel’s right-hand lady, Corissa Benchley, manages the business— sales, accounts, client relations, in-store appointments and press inquiries. Manuel’s son, Manny, has a ready-to-wear line of his own inspired by Manuel and often collaborates with the master on couture pieces. Manuel’s two daughters, Morelia and Jesse-Justin run the shop; Morelia schedules and plans store events and off-site bookings, while Jesse Justin oversees business operations from Chicago where she is pursuing a law degree.
The second impressive item is a 10 year-long project. After a lifetime of achievements and countless ventures, Manuel chose to give back to the country that brought his dream to a reality. Manuel is more than a clothing designer. His story is the American Dream. A collection of 50 state jackets, one for each state in the USA, each painstakingly tailored to include specific details from each state’s history. The jackets are full of embroidered and rhinestone landscapes and titles. This project is breathtaking as well as extreme dedication. The collection is his way of saying thanks to a country that has offered him a life nearly beyond his imagination His creations are truly a work of art and can be found in museums nationwide, including Metropolitan, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and even the Smithsonian. Locally, in Nashville, you can find his works on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and if you’re just lucky enough to know Manuel’s close friend, Marty Stuart, his closet is rumored to hold over 3000 pieces of Country Cowboy Couture that includes masterpieces from Turk, Nudie and, of course, Manuel. He was responsible for making Johnny Cash the man in black. He crafted Elvis’ signature gold lamé suit. He fashioned the garments Bob Dylan wore when performing for the Pope. He has dressed all three Hank Williams. And if this is not enough to bring him a legendary status in music history, you can thank him for both The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead’s notorious insignias but, it doesn’t stop here: presidents, athletes, dancers, artists and movie stars have donned his glittering couture. He has done wardrobe for over 90 movies and 13 television shows.
Most of Manuel’s custom-made outfits, all of which are sold as custom-made with Manuel’s direct involvement, will normally sell from $5,000 to $7,500, yet some can cost $20,000 or more. A buyer can also opt to buy from Manuel’s’ ready to wear line, Manuel Limited Collection is offered a lower cost across the country at only the finest of Western Wear Stores.
Here are two quotes from Manuel: “Record companies call me to help fabricate personalities for their artists,” he declares. “I do for artists what they need—not what they think they need.” and “You have to measure your dreams and your efforts with the same ruler!”
Written by Robin Kunzer
This year’s conference was held in Nashville TN. If you didn’t get the chance to see the fashion show you missed some very creative garments!
I would like to take this time to give you some background about myself and how I ended up saying “yes” to the position of Fashion Show Coordinator.
Although I have been a member of ASDP since 2007 and have attended every conference since Denver, I never volunteered to “chair” any ASDP event. However, that all changed last year. Due to unexpected circumstances, last year’s Fashion Show Coordinator had to step down. Robin Bolton, a previous fashion show coordinator, called to ask if I would be interested in being Fashion Show Coordinator in 2012. I had participated and modeled for fashion shows years ago, but I had never been a Fashion Show Coordinator! What was I getting myself into? Robin assured me she would guide me through the process. I knew the background of the situation so how could I say no? The event needed a coordinator, so I said yes!
As the rookie, I worked with Robin B. in Novi. I took notes and tried to absorb as much as I could regarding what needed to be done in a short period of time. Though overwhelmed at the time, I began to think that maybe I would consider being the coordinator for the following year. When asked to be the coordinator for 2013 I said yes!
There was so much to do the day of the Fashion Show that I had to leave class early. The first order of business was to line up the 26 garments and arrange all of the Member Showcase entries in numerical order. All garments in the line-up were dropped off the night before and that morning. A clothes rack of garments had to be transported from the second floor down to the first floor and into a dressing room, a difficult maneuver when moving the rack by yourself. All of the garments entered in the show had previously been matched with a model, but only on paper. My task was to find as many models as I could, match them up to their selected garment(s), have them try the garment(s) on and pray to the “runway goddess” that they fit. You guessed I; there were a few garments that did not fit the assigned model correctly and new models needed to be found.
In the meantime, the 15 Threads Sleeves Challenge garments were being juried by Susan Khalje, Judith Neukam and Lynn Lesher. Since I was privy to the photos in the Sleeve Challenge, I can tell you we have some very, very creative people in our group! The judging process takes time and the judges could not be disturbed, so the job of matching models and garments, for this section of the fashion show, came to a halt. I had to wait until the judging was completed. The clock was ticking!
The next job was to make sure the fashion show equipment was up and running. This included making sure the sound system was compatible with the IPad we were using to play the background music and to be sure the microphone was working. I also needed to be sure the setup and layout of the runway were correct. We needed more lighting on the runway, so spot lights were brought in and adjusted so they did not blind the models while walking the runway.
I received word the judging for the Threads Challenge was complete and the garments headed down to the back stage area. Although most of the designers who entered the challenge were modeling their own designs, a few designers chose not to. I needed to make sure each of these garments had a model and there were still a few Member Showcase garments without models. The hunt for models continued.
At 5:30 pm all involved in the fashion show were in the dressing room to receive instructions. The garments and accessories are ready to go. Healthy snacks and beverages have been provided for those who have not had a chance to eat dinner. We had a discussion on the line-up, walking the runway, playing to the audience and the procedure for having photos taken. There was a short question and answer session and a walk through.
At 7 pm the models were beginning to get dressed with the help of their “handmaids”. Although there are some fast changes backstage, it is important not to be too rushed when getting dressed. A “handmaid” is a volunteer ready to help the model in and out of the garment as fast as possible. Another important volunteer is the “line-up person.” This person is responsible for lining up the models in the correct order and checking the models over before they walk on the runway. These are the two most viable backstage volunteers who help make the fashion show run smoothly.
Don Claussen, of “Trap the Light Photography”, was our photographer for the event. Photos were taken a little differently this year. Instead of taking pictures on the runway, still shots were taken. A small space was set up just before the models walked out onto the runway. Here the models were asked to pose for their “photo shoot.” Don made all the models feel very relaxed in front of the camera. I talked to Don a couple of weeks after the fashion show. He said, “I had a great time and really enjoyed the opportunity to see some wonderful garments worn by such friendly models.”
At 7:30 pm the first ten models had been photographed and were standing in line waiting to go on stage. It was show time! I was standing to the back and side of the runway. My responsibility at this point was to have all the models in the correct order and to have eye contact with the commentator should there be a mishap. Helen Haughey welcomed the audience and the show was underway.
The second group of models was photographed and ready to go as the first group left the runway. Several models from the first group needed to do quick changes since they had at least one more outfit to show. It was an atmosphere of calm chaos in the back stage area, but all went well.
The 15 entries for the Threads Sleeve Challenge were lined up in order and ready to walk out onto the runway. As they walked out one at a time, the audience had a chance to study the garments. The Threads finalists returned to the runway for a final walk so the audience had a chance to choose their favorite for the “Audience Choice Award.” Among these entries are innovative ideas and designs and choosing just one is difficult! Susan Khalje introduced the judges for the Threads Challenge; Judith Neukam, Lynn Lesher and Susan Khalje. Judith Neukam explained the judging process, the categories, and commented on the amazing talent of the group. She had a few personal comments and thoughts before announcing the winners of the 2013 Threads Challenge.
And the winners are:
There was much excitement as well as happy tears as ASDP members hugged and congratulated one another. The atrium was filled with exuberance. Congratulations to all Challenger Winners!
The show is over! Everything ran smoothly in the front where I was stationed. I do not have a clue what went on in back, but I have heard things ran exceptionally well backstage. Positive comments were received such as beautiful, ran smoothly, rehearsal was helpful, and it was wonderful to have all of the women who volunteered backstage. I’d like to take this time to thank all of the members who volunteered to make this event run smoothly. It is very much appreciated.
I can’t tell you everything that is involved in presenting a fashion show because I’m still learning what goes on behind the scenes and in the spotlight. Check in with me again next year because I said “yes” yet again for another year of Fashion Show Coordinator for ASDP in 2014. See you in “Liberty Town!”
Networking can be defined as: The practice of gathering of contacts, the process or practice of building up or maintaining informal relationships, especially with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunities.
Networking is sometimes an overused term, but the definition given above definitely describes what happens when our members get together oneon-one, in a chapter, in social media, or at our national conference. Two people getting together for a cup of coffee may not feel like networking, but there is much information exchanged. Discussions about where to find a certain thread or the color and type of fabric used for a client’s garment or how to deal with the construction of a garment are but a few exchanges that might occur between two individuals.
On the chapter level, networking can evolve even more. Chapters many times will invite an outside speaker to come and give a presentation to its members. This presentation is a springboard to an active discussion during the meeting and continued interactions in the days and months to follow. If a chapter chooses to do a community service project, the networking that occurs is not only between its members, but reaches the local community and lets others know about ASDP. Of course, this may spark someone who has been considering a sewing business into action and possibly more members for ASDP.
Facebook, blogs, Go to Meeting, Go to Webinar are some examples of social media in which networking occurs. In the past year, our national board has started utilizing Go to Meeting for its monthly meetings. Go to Meeting has made board meetings more intimate in that feedback is given not only verbally but also through facial expressions. I feel much more connected to other board members because of this face-to-face interaction.
The ASDP annual conference is networking on a huge scale. Not only do members converse with each other, but there are also ample opportunities to learn a new skill, or listen to how others solve a particular sewing issue. Meeting together, learning together, shopping together, socializing together, touching fabric and notions together, laughing, hugging and supporting each other is what conference is all about. This physicality of being together is much more than any Go to Meeting, blog or Facebook could ever be.
I am very pleased to say that we had ten brand new ASDP members who attended their very first conference this year! It is my hope that these new members, some of them young enough to be my daughter, will continue their relationship with this organization. It was truly a delight to meet them and find out about their businesses, future plans, and to feel the level of professionalism they have.
A majority of conference attendees state that by the end of conference, “with all of the information and networking, their brain feels like mush.” This issue of Perspectives contains quite a bit of conference related material. It is our way of sharing a bit of conference with everyone. Enjoy!
Written by Teresa Nieswaag, President
MSDP has some exciting news. Our new Master Alteration Specialist (MAS) Certification Program is now open for registration! Many ASDP members asked us to create a program tailored to those who do alterations. So, who better to ask to be on the committee that helped create this than four highly respected alteration specialists as well as two members of the MSDP board of directors. We worked over a year to come up with this comprehensive program for the MAS Certification.
This program consists of five modules: Professional Practices, Fabrics, Alteration Techniques, Alteration Fit, and Alteration Overview. Each has its specific requirements and methods of evaluation. Upon successful completion of all five modules, a certificate will be awarded and the participant will be allowed to use the MAS designation in his/her business.
All evaluators have been carefully screened and approved by the MSDP Board of Directors. Blind evaluation will be conducted on all modules except Alteration Fit, which will be juried in person by a three-member evaluation team, and Professional Practices, which will be evaluated by a Small Business Administration Center director. Applicants will be assigned an identification number to be used on all submissions. Blind evaluation will be conducted so evaluators will not know whose work they are evaluating and the applicants will not be aware of who is evaluating their work.
Be the first to register for the Master Alteration Specialist Certification Program!
The cost of the MAS Certification Program is $800 for ASDP members and $1200 for non-ASDP members. We look forward to working with you to become a Master Alteration Specialist!
Written by Linda Macke, MSDP Liason
As we gear up for fall sewing events, I’m starting to hear more from the chapters. Here are some of the latest happenings that have been reported by the Chapter Representatives.
The Great Plains chapter may be a small group, but these women have become friends. They plan events when they can each travel a small distance and take in an interesting exhibit while they spend time together.
This year has offered them more opportunities than usual. Exhibits they’ve seen include: Durham Museum’s Women Who Rock - Vision, Passion and Power, organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Constructing History - Structures and Silhouettes exhibit in the Hillestad Textile Gallery at the University of Nebraska; Nebraska History Museum exhibit of gowns and memorabilia from Miss America 2011 (a 17-year old from Nebraska); and vintage wedding gowns sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society. Most recently, in August members attended the formal and evening wear runway show at Omaha Fashion Week, as a follow-up to the show they’d taken in during the Spring event. The chapter plans to meet in November to plan for next year, and in December they will have a lunch and gift exchange – their gifts have to be something made from “stuff we have on hand in our stash.” What a great way to show they care for one another!
The first meeting of the program year for the Baltimore chapter was held on September 12. The focus of the meeting was to complete garments for the Dress for Success program, started in the chapter’s booth at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Baltimore last May. They meant to distribute these garments at the June gala, which had to be cancelled because of a predicted storm. Blondell Howard offered her Sassy Sewer Sewing Lounge as a workspace for the September meeting. This was a wonderful continuation of the “sew it forward” effort ASDP members have been participating in for the past several years, congratulations and thank you, Baltimore members!
The New England chapter is kicking off its program year with two ‘open’ meetings, where non-members are welcome to attend along with chapter members. The first, Restyling Clothing for Comfort, is scheduled for September 21. During this hands-on program, attendees were guided by Pat Kane, as they learned to restyle and modify store-bought clothes for comfort and better looks. Pat is a chapter member who specializes in fit for both stage costumes and custom garments for her clients. Next up, on October 26, Maureen Egan, member of both ASDP and Silk Painters International (SPIN), will lead a lecture and demonstration on Surface Design for Fashion: Painting on Fabric. These fashion applications for fabric paint and dye may get messy, so participants are advised to bring an apron for when they try their hand at the techniques following the demonstration.
Written by Janee Connor, VP of Chapter Relations
One aspect of alteration work that I thoroughly enjoy is that each job presents a new puzzle to be solved. Some puzzles, like changing a hem, are usually pretty straightforward. Other puzzles, however, can be quite challenging – for example, when I needed to add just over 4” to the circumference of a wedding gown bodice.
Part of solving alteration puzzles calls on my knowledge of sewing. However, a great deal of performing alterations calls on my knowledge of fitting. Not only does a better fit make the garment more flattering, it also makes the garment more comfortable. I’ve found that my customers often come to me, rather than going to a local dry cleaner, simply because of my ability to fit.
Learning to fit different types of garments on a wide variety of bodies took a lot of practice and experimentation. Like many skills you acquire for your business, the time and effort you put in pays off in the long run. Having top-notch fitting skills certainly allows me to charge more for my alteration services.
I also get a lot of satisfaction doing alterations. Part of my satisfaction derives simply from solving the new puzzle that has been brought to me, but it’s more than that. Because of the way the women’s clothing industry has evolved over the last 50 years, many people – perhaps most people – don’t have a clue what a good fit is. As I fit a garment, they can literally see the difference and after they’ve worn the altered garment, they feel the difference.
Some repeat clients make an appointment saying, “I want you to work your magic on a new garment I’ve bought.” They might feel like it’s magic, but I know it’s not; it’s just employing a finely honed skill set and, for me, the biggest satisfaction of all is helping people feel better in their clothes, because everyone goes about their day with a much more positive frame of mind when they feel good in what they’re wearing.
Written by Sarah Veblen, author of The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting
Alterations are a huge part of my business and I feel that with many of the alterations that I do, I learn something. As many of you know, taking a garment apart to make the changes can be an eye-opening lesson on how the industry fabricates these garments. Those of you who work a storefront alterations business have become very adept and fast at many complicated alteration projects. The phrase, “time is money” definitely pertains to alterations.
In one of this month's blog posts, Sarah Veblen discusses creating beautiful fit using alterations, and how “magical” her work appears to her clients. This positive feedback is an amazing emotional boost in our sometimes very drama filled jobs. In doing precise fitting alterations to create a well-fitting garment, at times with a tight deadline, clients appreciate our skills and for the most part gladly pay our fees.
Through the online discuss list, members help each other solve some of these alteration puzzles. When the question arises, “How do I do this?” there are often numerous answers from other members based on their experience. There are even, many times, some very helpful illustrations to clarify these answers! This sharing of information serves as continual education for many of us along with positive reinforcement that we are very capable sewing professionals. This reinforcement is especially important when we are dealing with a client that will never be happy, even with our very best work. “So, this is the time to focus on all the clients you make very happy and try to forget the one who makes it impossible for you to do your stuff” is a direct quote from the discuss list that is so very pertinent for our businesses.
Learning from each other is one of the biggest perks of ASDP membership. I hope that you will find some new information in this blog to use in your business.
This book should be required reading for anyone interested or working in any aspect of the apparel industry, big or small. Not since Teri Agin’s The End of Fashion does an author address, in such an easily understood manner, the “why’s” that have created what we know today as fashion. More specifically, Cline addresses “fast fashion,” the demise of American apparel manufacturing, and the attitude held by large companies that product quality should be “good enough” but shouldn’t affect making a big profit. Essentially the themes communicated throughout are that consumers today do not know good quality from bad, are easily swayed by incredibly low prices, and expect a lot for a little, usually on the backs of workers making less than a living wage in less than adequate conditions.
What impressed me about this book is that Cline sought to communicate the big picture of what has happened, is happening, and where we can go from here in regards to the production of apparel and textile products worldwide. Although much time was spent discussing the rise of China as the world’s powerhouse in apparel manufacturing and its implications, Cline also laid out the path of countries, including the U.S., taking hold of production opportunities as the quality and cost of living raises for Chinese workers result in higher production costs. She is hopeful that production companies will seek out socially, and ecologically, responsible manufacturing facilities that pay living wages and/or “re-shore” manufacturing back to American soil. Other encouraging trends discussed include the rise, or return, of “slow fashion,” in which local designers make small runs of styles, offering them at local retail establishments, leading to exclusivity and educating consumers on quality. Given that fast fashion is for the most part uninspiring, Cline believes that more people will be seeking to restyle or repurpose what they have in their own wardrobes, leading to more demand for seamstresses and tailors as well as educational opportunities in sewing and design.
In all, Overdressed is an easy, interesting read. In fact, I will be using it in several of my academic classes as required reading to communicate to my students the realities of the apparel industry today. Although the book is a sober reminder of how apparel quality has declined, it does offer a bright outlook for the future of fashion.
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