The big reveal
Over the past several months I have identified top-notch local partners to contribute each step in the made to measure production process: body scanning at NC State in Raleigh to take women’s measurements, Apparel Prototyping and Design Solutions in Pelzer, SC to digitize the pattern so it can be adapted to an individual woman’s measurements in real time, computerized cutting in Smithville, TN to dramatically reduce the time to cut women’s jackets for each individualized pattern with optimal accuracy, and a forward thinking, ethical and high quality sewing group–Sew Co.–in Western North Carolina to sew the Riding Jackets. Though it took quite a few months to find the right groups for this work, we are ready to test the first U.S. based, technology-supported, women’s made to measure production process.
The question we seek to answer: Can we solve a major apparel challenge for women–poor fitting garments–and use it to bring back U.S. apparel manufacturing jobs? It is too promising not to try.
And we need a bit of money to do it. Several friends and supporters pointed me in the direction of iFundWomen, a crowdsourcing platform dedicated to closing the funding gap, particularly for early stage companies. What sealed the deal is that iFundWomen allows you to spend the money as you raise it. For our unique endeavor it means that as we reach each modest funding goal we will be able to proceed to the next phase in the made to measure testing.
1st $500 –> Scan 5 women @ NC State for measurements
+ $1,300 –> Digitize the patterns @ APADS, South Carolina
+ $500 –> Cut the first made to measure Riding Jackets in Tennessee
+ $2,000 –> Sew the first made to measure Riding Jackets @ Sew Co., NC
As we test each piece in the process we will film our work and share it back to our supporters so you can see what the heck this all looks like. We launch our 30-day campaign September 26 to close Wednesday October 25th. Five women with completely different body types will participate from body scanning to the final fitting.
In the 8 remaining weeks before our launch, I am doing a blog series to recap where we’ve been and how we got here.
The beginning (Part 1 of 8)
It is August, 2010 and I have purchased my first commuter bike in Carrboro, North Carolina just as my public health program is starting at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. I start riding everywhere. No choice. No car. In the sweltering humidly, in the rain, in the frosty mornings, and dark cold evenings. To class, to a presentation, to a meeting, to drinks, to a potluck.
And I learn about the performance of my basic clothing items. This skirt flips up when you ride, those pants get caught, that shirt doesn’t breath and gets supper sweaty, this jacket restricts the ability to move your arms forward, light colored anything attracts chain oil like coffee to a white shirt. These pants are high enough in the back, tapper just so, breath, are well constructed. That shirt is perfectly designed. Why?
I mulled over these questions: Why are great performing and fitting, beautifully made apparel items for women so few and far between? What would more designs look like? What would they be made of? The wheels turn… Trudging up the hill, those last few block until home, until campus, until the grocery store. What would make this better, more stylish, smarter?
What pants, tops, jackets, shoes, bags, would allow me to bike to my destinations and arrive looking professional and put together, style forward, strong, capable? Now seven years ago, these ideas were just seeds, stored in my head, just a little fun to dream about on my bike and then lying dormant, waiting for the right moment.
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