Today marks the end of the first week of our iFundWomen Custom-Made Womenswear Campaign. Thank you for all your support to help us get here.
Last Tuesday was not only our launch day, but the day we went to the professional tailor: Nighisti Selby’s studio to measure each of the beta client women for our custom-made womenswear work. Yes, it was an intense day. We had just officially launched our iFundWomen campaign page and off I ran to get to Nighisti’s for the measurement sessions.
I drove over in a frenzied state, shoving a tamale in my mouth, thinking through the measuring, the charging of the various devices, the social media posts, the women, my amazing videographer and intern all coming together. Would it all come together?!
And I burst through the doors with all this, my arms full, my mind full. And then I’m in Nighisti’s sanctuary: her studio, what she calls her “jungle”. Me, Colleen the videographer, Sydney the social media intern all take a seat to listen to her wisdom pour out. Her stories. How she listens to each customer. Makes them feel at home. How they teach her. What she learns from them. How their perspectives enrich her work, push her to try new things.
And in come the women, one by one. “So beautiful” she clucks at all the diversity of shapes and sizes. Like me she feels that it is the variation that makes the art of design and tailoring beautiful. “Why would you want everyone to look the same?” I follow her techniques and tips to take each woman’s measurements along with her. I love this work. I love learning about the variation, and the intimate connection with the individual I am working with; the connection with what makes them different and beautiful outside and in.
Thank God for Nighisti Selby. With all the moving parts, all the challenges, all the schedules, all the faith that it will come together and the uncertainty, I come to Nighisti, she leads me to my heart, and all else falls away.
And Nighisti starts talking about our culture around women’s bodies. How we have standard sizes that don’t make sense with our hips and busts and waists. How men make the sizes and they make no sense at all. And she says something very interesting. When she was in Italy studying tailoring, all their clothing was made to measure. There was never a point where she thought something was off about her body, it was exactly as it was and all her clothing was made for it. No opportunities to consider that it should be different or that it is not beautiful just the way it is. And then she comes to the U.S. and there is this standard sizing, and women on TV that look tall and skinny and models with eating disorders. She sees all these women coming in who think they should be a different shape. We are surrounded by this stuff. We can’t help it.
And so I realize that I want to bring a piece of this old world of Nighisti’s Italy back to life. Our bodies are beautiful as they are, with all their variation. No one, no sizing system, no culture, no advertisers or magazines or apparel lines are going to tell us differently. Of course we have to unlearn a lot of the crap that we’ve absorbed to get there: to embrace our bodies and love them, and make beautiful garments that respect them just the way they are. Mind-blowing and old school. New technology with an old-world idea on how we make clothing. Awesome. Challenging.
With any luck, next week we will be digitally adapting the patterns to work with and learn from this beautiful variation in women’s measurements, the next step to making garments that fit each woman's individual form beautifully.
View the full series of videos, including our short vignettes on the inspiring local women who are our beta clients on Instagram @reidmillerapparel.
There is still time to donate and spread the word! Check out our iFundWomen Custom-Made Womenswear Campaign page here and please share it with your friends!
THANK YOU for helping me make this happen. My gratitude for being able to try this out is enormous.