Fashion Designers Pre Production Survey

Do you have Fashion Designs you’d like to have made into patterns and prototypes to test your designs?

As the Founder of Orlando Fashion District its my mission to help you!

This is Step 1 on the pre production path to getting Your Fashion Designs into production and becoming a bonafide Fashion Designer!

Most of my clients ARE NOT educated or experienced in Fashion. Most have day jobs they want to eventually quit and are transitioning into fashion as their exit strategy.

You do not need a degree or experience in Fashion to become a successful designer. When you surround yourself with people who can guide you through the process by connecting you with the experts, you can get there from here.

I can work with you one of two ways. I can teach you as much as you’d like to learn or know to manage the daily details yourself OR you can hire me to manage it for you while you design and make all the big decisions.

Take this survey about how far along you are with your designs and get a free consultation from me on what next steps you can take to move forward.

https://form.jotform.com/81332938508158

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10 Ways To Pre Sell Your Fashion Collection

As the Founder of Orlando Fashion District, my mission is to help Fashion Designers succeed in business.

Here’s some of my best advice on how to leverage the money you spend on patterns and prototypes to fund the production of your designs vs spending thousands of dollars on a production run that hasn’t been tested on the market yet and hoping it will sell.

  1. Wear them! I highly recommend making yourself the fit model for your Designs whenever possible. Why? Because when I wear what I’ve designed (last night for example) I handed out 20+ business cards at a rock concert to people who said they loved the Steampunk Themed Top Hat, Jacket and Boots I made. I had 2 different people offer me $150 to buy my hat right off my head! Stand out in a crowd. Make yourself a walking billboard and engage your admirers by stopping right then and there and have them follow you on your social media accounts. Boom. Wearing your designs will also let you test the reaction, fit, fabrics, laundering aftermath and so on. It’s a necessary part of the research and development of your brand.
  2. Do a professional looking photo shoot of your designs. Hire models if needed, have a nice background, good lighting and get some great shots of your designs from all angles. These photos can be used for multiple things, which I will outline further below.
  3. Post photos to your social media. This is huge and if you don’t already have a website, Instagram or Facebook page for your designs you better get on it! Use your social media to showcase, debut, take pre orders for your designs and get feedback from your followers. If you need help building an Instagram account, I highly recommend KelpSocial.com they took our Orlando Fashion District account from 200 to 3,600 and growing, organically in a matter of weeks. Tell them you were referred by Orlando Fashion District and get a free month plus 10% off after your trial. You can set your Instagram account up to share your posts to Facebook, saving a lot of posting time.
  4. Launch a crowdfunding campaign. One of the best gurus in the industry on how to do this is Shannon Lohr at Factory45.co Presell your designs and fund your first production run with advanced orders using Your prototypes and photos. You’ll need to have your fabrics sourced and production numbers together with everything ready to rock and roll when the pre orders come in.
  5. Do a Runway Show. This will get you some great professional runway photos of models wearing your designs, good feedback from the crowd and potentially some buyers. I know Designers who sell their fashion right off the runway and take orders for their designs.
  6. Show your Designs at Convention, Tradeshow or Expo events. Some of the biggest events are the Surf Expo for swimwear designers, (surfexpo.com) Magic Las Vegas is one of the Fashion industries biggest sourcing events. http://www.ubmfashion.com/shows/magic I know designers who walked in with prototypes and walked out with Production contracts in hand.
  7. Negotiate retail contracts. I know a woman with an extensive list of top department stores and retailers who she can negotiate retail contracts with of your designs. Contact me directly for this inside information at Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com
  8. Start small on Etsy. Use your photos. Find a local seamstress who can make your designs as needed and sell them with up to a 6 week turnaround time. Get paid in advance and then ship it out made to order.
  9. Ask for Boutique orders. Pack your designs into a garment bag or suitcase and take them around to local boutiques with swatches of any other available fabrics. Show them your collection and ask for orders with a 50% deposit of at least 2X your cost and get the balance on delivery. They should be able to resell your designs for at least 2X what they paid you. (Keystone Pricing) If you can charge more then definitely do!
  10. Use Influencers. Ideally you should give your design to them for free, have them take photos wearing it and write you an unlicensed review you can use, post or share to your social media. Ideally an influencer should have at least 10k followers, be willing to blog their review, post photos to their social media and tag you. If you’d like me to review your design email me at Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com to see if we’re a good match.

For more help, resources and information on how to launch your own fashion brand, many of my clients have hired me as a consultant.

I can help you get through your patterns and prototypes, get graded and digitized, source fabrics, get your social media and branding image together, launch an influencer campaign, find a production house, show your collection on a fashion week or celebrity attempted runway show anywhere in the world and more.

Fashionably Yours,

Gina Vincenza Van Epps

Fashion Influencer

aka Psycho Seamstress

Founder of

Orlando Fashion District

Fashion Destination

#ofd

http://www.Psychoseamstress.com

http://www.OrlandoFashionDistrict.com

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Quora

Garment Designers Pre Production Checklist

For the last several years I have been balancing my time between fashion and costuming for companies including Disney and Universal Theme Parks.

Since 2011, I have worked with over 50 celebrity clients like Beyonce and was featured in her Formation World Tour Behind The Scenes Fashion video.
I've worked on costumes for Justin Bieber's Believe Film, Taylor Swift's Red Tour, Rihanna's Diamonds and Anti World Tours and many, many more.
Last year I even restored Janis Joplin's Cape for the Hard Rock International, which is now on display in San Francisco, CA. You can read all about these adventures in my other blog posts.

I now have my own design and production house, where I specialize in pre production work, wholesale fabric sourcing and managing domestic and international production runs on all kinds of garments, shoes, bags and even tactical and combat training gear through House Of Vincenza.

As the Founder and President of Orlando Fashion District we've taken on the mission to make Orlando a Fashion Destination and to support and encourage fashion designers everywhere.

Designers hire to help them take their designs from concept to creation and into production, many of them aren't exactly sure how the process works.

To help you understand how this process works, I created this checklist of things you need to start working on, if you have designs you'd like to reproduce.

  1. Solid Concept – this can come in the form of sketches, photos or even an existing garment you'd like to use as inspiration for your designs. The more detailed the better. Refining these details in the process will cost more money than having them figured out in advance.
  2. Pattern – this has to be created in order to build a prototype of your design. It will be the foundation of everything and may need to be altered several times to get it perfect.
  3. Fabrics – using the fabrics you'd like to go into production with, is the best way to build your prototypes. If you don't have them sorted out, custom printed and sourced in sample quantities prior to moving forward, it could delay the process. Changing fabrics later means making another prototype. Skipping this step can be an expensive mistake if the production fabrics don't behave, look or feel the same way as your prototype fabrics. If you "can't afford" to make a new prototype, then you need to rework your funding.
  4. Notions – zippers, buttons, snaps, elastics, threads and any other materials you'll be using for your design needs to be sourced up front in sample quantities. These items will all need to be tested as part of your prototype. Changing this later means another prototype will need to be made in order to avoid production problems cause by these last minute changes that won't work right in your design.
  5. Labels – start working on your clothing label designs at the same time as your prototypes or it could delay production. These can take a few weeks to get these the way you'd like.
  6. Prototypes – this will be the first reality test of your designs. Don't expect it to be perfect the first time. This process can take several revisions. Be prepared for that. Emotionally and Financially. It might seem like a long and expensive process, but if you fail to test everything here and now and then move forward into production it could cost you a lot more time and money to go back and correct something after you've had hundreds of them made wrong or in a way that doesn't fit or work properly.
  7. Tech Pack – Once you've got a solid design prototype you can move on to the next step, which is creating all of the technical specifications of your garment. This is commonly referred to as a "tech pack" in the industry. Moving forward into production without this, especially with a new provider can leave a lot of things open to their interpretation. Not a good plan. Technical specs will clearly define and communicate to the production house, how your garment should be assembled, what types of seams go where, what kind and colors of thread, how to install your elastic, notions and so on are all explained in this document. Look at it as the assembly instruction that go along with your pattern and parts. What you get without it is an expensive crap shoot.
  8. Digitizing – This is the process of converting your paper patterns into an auto cad program like Gerber. If you've got access to someone who uses this or a similar program in the beginning stages it can save time and money down the road. It can be used to create your grading instead of having it done by hand. You can also use it to creat your "pattern markers" or "cut sheets" which I will talk about more in my next post.
  9. Grading – This is the process of creating all of the sizes for each design. It can be small, medium and large or numbered sizes. There are ASTM.org industry standards that can help determine these guidelines based on algorithms of global sizing standards. (There's also a thing called "vanity" sizing. A lot of brands run big so that you will fit into a smaller size and hopefully buy it because we all wish we were a size smaller. Ugh. It's a thing.) Making a sample of each size before you go into production with it is an important part of proper grading. Having an ASTM dimensioned fit model for each size will help make your sizing fit average size buyers.
  10. Production – Deciding on a production house is the next step. I will talk more about this in my next posts. Domestic production in the USA vs International Production is a complicated decision. Staying in the USA is possible for most items, but expensive compared to international options. Why? Mainly because the minimum wage in the USA is several times higher than other countries. There are also fabric issues to consider. Going international means it will be more cost effective to use fabrics the factory has either readily available or choosing from what they can source for you. Getting fabric samples from your production house in advance can streamline the pre production process.

Some of the other things you can do with all of these prototypes is enter runway shows, do photo shoots, trunk shows and start working on pre marketing your designs.

My next post will be about going into the production process. I'll write about it from a USA domestic perspective and from an international perspective.

Good Talk!

Got any questions?
Did I leave anything out? Gina@HouseOfVincenza.com

Stay Tuned.

How To Start A Fashion Line… Realistically and ETHICALLY!

A few times a week I get calls and emails from people who want me to help them create a fashion garment or clothing line. Many of them admittedly know nothing about what it actually takes to make that happen…

dress

If you think you can call up a pattern maker or seamstress and have them create a garment you can turn around and sell for $25 with a profit in it for you, let me nicely advise  “you’re trippin!”

25 dress

Sorry to burst your bubble, but allow me to enlighten you…

  1. for retail prices like that, it would require a factory production order of about 1,000 + pieces
  2. a retail line of stores willing to place large orders of your designs or other successful mass market distribution plan already in place
  3. an INITIAL investment of about $25,000 to cover patterns, prototypes, factory samples, 100 yard rolls of fabric, notions, thread, labor, labels, cargo shipping to the USA, customs fees, import taxes, shipping get it from the port to a distribution center, then shipping to get it to the retailer
  4. AND your items will probably be made in unethical, human trafficking and/or child labor conditions for a $5 profit per garment. Let’s just hope you don’t have to put it on sale!!

Soooooo, unless you’ve got that kind of cash laying around, don’t quit your day job AND let’s hope “they” cut, sew and assemble everything correctly or it could be a total loss (I’ve seen it happen with a friends’ fashion line!!)

money-blackhole

In order for me to help you understand what it takes to realistically bring your concepts to creation, Here is a step by step outline of the process for taking a garment into factory production and the reasonable expenses involved.

First of all you’ve got to have a general idea of what you want to create, one garment at a time. Even if you start with one design, define the details with photos or rough sketches. I meet with a lot of clients who start with a collage of photos we combine their favorite elements of each into the one garment they want to create. ie this neckline, that sleeve, this front, that back, etc. (For the record, you can not simply knock off someone else’s garment with the exact same fabrics, notions and details or you could get sued. You have to change the original garment by design, fabric, notions and/or stitching details by at least 25%!!!)

collage

Now make a list of all the features you want your garment to have such as seam finishes, pockets, top stitching details, hem finishes, fabrics, zippers, buttons, notions, etc. Take photos of details you want from your own clothing or a stores clothing line for reference.

zip

Second thing you need to do is create a fashion illustration or “flat” taking all of the inspiration photos and combine them into a functional image of what you want your end product to look like. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will help the pattern maker get all of the details right the first time. A good fashion illustrator will charge about $50-100 per hour to draw everything in detail.

Fashion_Illustration

Next, you will need to have a pattern made. This averages about $150 and up, per garment. Pattern making is an art that requires precise knowledge of fit, body curves and other techniques. Sometimes you can use a store bought home sewing pattern as a base and alter it to your specification. This can still take a few hours to do.

pattern making

“Grading” the pattern into different sizes, comes later and will be an additional expense. Grading by hand usually starts at $50 per each additional size depending upon the number of pattern pieces, but it can go much higher. I recommend, if you’re serious about launching a fashion line, you find a pattern maker who knows how to use Gerber, which is an autocad program for fashion. There are expenses involved in translating your paper patterns into the autocad system, (from $25 per design and up) but it will greatly reduce the turn around time and expense to grade ($15 per size vs $50+ by hand), alter and transmit your designs to the factory in the long run. Add these figures in your budget if your item is not one size fits all.

Graded pattern

Choosing fabrics for your prototype can be done a number of ways. Many times we create the prototype out of muslin, canvas, duck, spandex or other cheap fabric that behaves similar to the final fabric, mainly so the fit can be defined without cutting into more expensive final fabric. Prototypes usually start at $150 each or up to $50 an hour or more, to cut and sew. If someone charges less make sure they have the skills to do all of these things.

hire a pro

To give you an example of a real life situation and it’s numbers, I had a client with 14 items in her collection. Between pattern making and 3 phases of prototypes it costed about $7000.00 in labor. This did not include materials, which ranged from $25-180 PER YARD. Her fabrics were very delicate, high end and her garments had couture details.

couture-pattern-muslin

Sourcing of final fabrics and notions is an important part of creating a fashion line. There are many factors to consider. There are a series of fabric show around the country by DG Expo which are free to attend and invaluable to finding everything you need to create a successful clothing line.

  1. How many of each item do you intend on making at a time? 25/50/100 (this is called a run)
  2. How many yards will you need for each item? Sometimes as a designer it can be difficult to get a response from a wholesale factory or mill on fabrics and pricing, because they would rather deal directly with a design or production house because they see them as a more profitable client. I’ve had that happen to several clients.
  3. What kind of fabric do you want to use? Woven, Knit, Natural Fiber, Synthetic, Denim, Stretch, Etc…
  4. Will your garment simply be wash and wear or will it require hand washing or dry cleaning? This will be important to your decision. (Wash, wear and tear testing will need be done once you’ve gotten past the prototype phase and have a sample in the desired fabrics for production.)
  5. How will it play with the other fabrics involved? ie, will one shrink more than another, will it bleed, fade, need interfacing, lining, etc… (this again needs to be part of the research and development of your garments)
  6. Find out if you can get a few yards of sample Fabric to use for a sample garments.
  7. Fabric for production is usually ordered by the bolt or roll to ensure consistency in production and to get the best price. Find out what their minimums are. Some companies have a minimum roll price of so many yards. This can range from 25+ yards and up for example. Otherwise you will pay twice as much (usually retail) for anything less that their minimum quantity.

ROLLS OF FABRIC LINE THE WALL_0

What kind of trims will it need? Lace, Bias Tape, Piping, etc, those will need to be sourced and purchased in volume.

SOURCING

What kind of zippers, buttons, snaps, hooks do you want to use for closures? Will they need to be custom made with your logo on them? All this will need to be budgeted, sourced and purchased for production.

Labels

What kind of labels are required by law?
You could have your entire run rejected if it is not labeled properly. Many garments are required to be labeled with the fiber contents of the fabrics, where the item was made and any safety related information.
You should have one label with care instructions and one that has your logo, brand, size of the garment and can also contain its inventory item number, web address, etc. These can be one in the same, screen printed onto the fabric or made to order tags that have been printed, woven, embroidered and could be made of fabric or other synthetic materials.

Choosing a production facility.

  1. First thing you will want to do is research what type of garments each factory is set up to run.
    For example, some factories specialize in certain types of garments or fabrics. Find a few that might work.
  2. Have each factory make you a sample of how they would produce your item. This is called a factory sample. In order to do this, they will need a combination of the following items.
    1. A prototype or sample of the item you wish to reproduce
    2. Patterns for the size you want them to make
    3. A “tech pack” or spread sheet of information and illustrations regarding every precise measurements and construction details of your garment.
    4. Samples of all of the materials required to produce your garment or specifications on what materials you’d like them to use for their sample.

Here are some samples of what those documents look like. You will need to hire a professional to put these together in most cases.

tech tech2 tech3

It can take several weeks to turn around a factory sample and can cost a anywhere from $100-1000 to get everything together for the factory.

Another thing to consider is any language barrier. If you can’t communicate easily and frequently with this factory by email or they take days to respond to a simple request that should be taken into consideration as a red flag.

If you choose this factory you should also be prepared to fly to this county to visit the factory, meet with its staff and inspect it for yourself. If your planing on investing several thousand dollars, the expense is worth it.

Another thing to consider is to hire a liaison from that area to go to the factory unannounced to check on the quality and progress of your run. I had a friend who did all of the above and still lost several thousand dollars due to quality issues and unapproved fabric swapping that cost her about $10k in losses. She ordered a three piece outfit, which became unusable because they messed up one piece in production on the entire run.

Sound overwhelming? There is a lot involved in taking a fashion line into production. If you don’t want all these headaches it is best to hire someone to manage your project who has a background in overseas fashion production.

What’s the alternative? Get real! Unless you are Walmart, you need to return to earth and start on a smaller scale. Here are a few ideas that have worked for some of my clients. In order to make money, you need to have a realistic price point that includes a reasonable cost for materials and labor.

Here’s how to figure that out:

  1. How much can you reasonably get all the materials you will need to make your item? This will be your Materials Cost
  2. Getting your pattern and prototype made will run about $150 for the pattern and $150 for the prototype AND UP if your garment is complicated. This is part of your Research & Development Cost and a critical part of the process, if this is not done correctly it will be down hill from here.
  3. Once the first pattern and prototype (usually in a muslin or other cheap fabric that behaves similar to the fabrics you’d like to use in your final garment) have been made you should have an estimate on how long it will take to cut and sew your garment and an initial sample of what you’d like to make.
  4. Now is the time to review your design, fit it to your “fit model” and proceed in refining your design as many times as necessary, to meet with your final approval.
  5. Once you’ve got everything perfectly the way you want it, the next step is to create a designer sample in your final, more expensive fabrics. Whoever is sewing your samples, should be able to provide a retail quality skill level (no sewing mistakes) AND have the right equipment (which can be very expensive). This is important because your samples could eventually end up being photographed, used for marketing, fashion shows and even sold to clients directly.
  6. Take your sample garment, hire a model and a photographer (or just do it yourself!) and create some professional looking images of your garment. You can post these images to Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Instagram, Pintrest and other social media sites and ask people if they would buy this item. You can even start taking orders with a realistic turn around time (4-6 weeks on Etsy). You can also set up trunk shows at local boutiques and shop it around to some retailer to see if they’d be interested in placing an order.
  7. After you have test marketed you item you can start to prepare to produce them as needed using a local seamstress or short run production house at a fair wage, which in the US, is going to run about $10+ for a skilled seamstress with good equipment.
  8. You can launch an entire collection this way by starting small.

Once you have some orders flowing in, have created a following and your local seamstress or short run production house becomes too busy to handle your orders, here is a great way to get factory quality and quantity at a fair and ethical price…

Fashion Hope

Fashion Hope is an international organization, founded by a friend of mine, Marc Palmer.
Marc can:

  1. Introduce you to funding sources and their audience, which could help you FUND your fashion line ethically with certified fair wage production, worldwide
  2. Assist you in creating a documentary of your fashion story and mission for reasonable fees contact info@fashionhope.org regarding the cost.
  3. Assist Designers with a strong media following and other outside funding to coordinate a trip to a country where they have rescued women from unethical, human trafficking situations and converted them into a fair wage working environments
  4. Through Fashion Hope, you will get to work hands on with their fashion production experts to ensure your project is in good hands and experience the people and community where your garments will be produced
  5. You can join the growing list of ethical designers and promote your line as being both fair wage and ethical in its production practices, which are huge selling points
  6. Be Introduced to the coordinators of annual fashion week events any where in the world, get discounts or FREE benefits once you have an established Brand
  7. Become part of the “IN CROWD” who can give a confidant answer about where and how your garments are being made

To learn more about Fashion Hope and become a part of the growing movement to produce Fashion ethically, you can find Marc Palmer’s Fashion Hope page at Fashion Hope on Facebook or email Marc@FashionHope.org

For more on the issues of human trafficking and to find out how many slaves you own, check out…http://mtvexit.org/ and http://slaveryfootprint.org/survey/

I am on a mission to create an Orlando Fashion District, if you would like to become part of this movement, please like my Facebook Page for all of the latest info and share your local favorites!!

Thanks for tuning in!

Follow me on Facebook at Psycho Seamstress for all the latest!

Check out some of my fashion client and film work at House of Vincenza

Gina Vincenza Van Epps is aka Psycho Seamstress

A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer and Costume Fabrication Specialist, Key Wardrobe

Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

Bacchanal Carnival, a Rock Operetta in the Works

In January of 2013, I met with the friend of a friend, named Blu Fogarty.

10420048_10152502736061963_1915668819032732096_n
Blu is a very talented performer at Universal Studios, who wanted to show me a Rock Operetta he had written entitled “Bacchanal Carnival”. The show is a very diverse Morality Play about a character called “Everyman”, he actually performed it for me, from beginning to end, playing and singing the parts for each of the characters he had written. It was quite impressive. I felt compelled to become involved.

sc000cc4f5
Blu’s goal is to tour his charity benefit rock operetta and use it to raise money for local charities by partnering with them in communities where it will be shown. (See the C.O.R.E. Incorporated Facebook Page or Website for more information.)
Over the last 2 years Blu formed a 501c3 non profit organization called C.O.R.E. Incorporated, whose primary mission is to put this show on tour.

sc000d06c3
Last year, I agreed to help by putting together a good, better and best budget for wardrobe.

My Fashion Designer friend David Barnes of Piida Diida agreed to fill in some of the costume blanks with concept drawings.

Stiltwalking Performers
Through another series of meetings Blu decided to replace the touring orchestra with a Circus Style Calliope Machine with a Steam Punk edge.

I introduced Blu to a few more friends, who I thought might be able to help him along his journey including Winfield Murdock, a very talented Costume Designer, Fabrication Specialist and Owner of Winfield Murdock Creative Works in Orlando.

Winfield Murdock Creative Works
This winter Blu had an event coming up and has been wanting his “MC” costume fabricated, so he could wear it to meetings with potential investors to help convey his concept, perform parts of the play and for general marketing purposes.
Miguel Moreta, a London Educated Fashion Graduate, Costume Designer & Fabricator I’ve been working with over the last few months, sat down with Blu a few weeks ago and sketched out all of the details needed to move the project into fabrication.

MC Costume Drawings by Miguel Moreta
Winfield Murdock met with Blu to discuss the final details and began working on construction.

MC Jacket Construction  Leather Pants Panels MC Pants

I worked mostly on the leather pants from beginning to end.

The end result was a Custom Military Style Tails Coat, Hand Made Leather Top Hat and Patchwork Leather Pants.
This costume is one of many amazing costumes pending fabrication for this show.

MC Front MC Back MC Pants Patched Back Seam
If you’d like to donate time, talent, money, goods or services to help Blu bring his concept further into creation, please contact Blu@coreincorporated.org and tell him I sent you.

Blu needs help with production, audio, video, lighting, casting, performers, soundtrack, props, costumes, funding, grants and more!

Core Incorporated Website and Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/hardCOREincorporated  http://www.coreincorporated.org/

Winfield Murdock Creative Works Website & Facebook Page

http://www.winfieldmurdock.com/   https://www.facebook.com/WinfieldMurdockCreativeWorks

David Barnes of Piida Diida   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Piida-Diida-Clothing/120707634627104

Gina Vincenza Van Epps aka Psycho Seamstress
A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Designer & Costume Fabrication Specialist

Gina@PsychoSeamstress.com

Psycho Seamstress  https://www.facebook.com/psychoseamstress

Psycho Stagewear  https://www.facebook.com/psycho13stagewear

House of Vincenza   https://www.facebook.com/houseofvincenza

Orlando Fashion District  https://www.facebook.com/OrlandoFashionDistrict

Central Florida Sewing Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/fashionincubatordh/

Read this to find out if you might be supporting human trafficking or child labor…

Lately, I have been seeing all of these ads popping up on Facebook… “Love This Dress? It’s only $7!”  When I see my friends “Liking” this, I want to scream! When you buy a garment at a price that low, you are supporting an unethical industry. If you’re not quite sure how that works, follow me…

Screenshot (4)

I get calls all the time from “designer wanna be’s” who want me to make this or that fashion garment for $10-15, so that they can sell it for $25. After a lengthy, polite and educational conversation about “how things work” in the garment industry, the crux of what I explain is that in order to get things made at that price they’d have to order about 5,000 of them, source and buy rolls of fabric, sent a prototype and pattern I would charge $500 to reverse engineer from their stick figure drawings and pintrest photos, not to mention shipping, along with choosing notions and after they are sewn, shipping to the USA, paying customs, all for a hefty investment of about $50,000. Right about that time they are pretty darn deflated and most likely scrap that bright idea, because I have just peed in their Cheerios and will never hear from them again. Sorry to burst your bubble, but even if I made that dress in an hour at minimum wage you still have to buy the fabric, notions, thread, gasoline to pick it up from me, pay me to make the pattern and so on. Do the math, it costs more than you think.

Here is how it’s really made at that price… Every day, millions of woman and children are forced into labor and denied their fundamental rights to freedom of choice, safety and security. The garment industry is a huge “employer” of women and children forced into labor. With that being said, maybe if you begin to understand WHY “Made In China” or other countries is an important factor to consider.

FAIR WAGE  is something we all earn in this country, but we take it for granted that someone else was able to earn the same when making you that $7 dress in a foreign country.

There is a movement going on in this country right now and it is leaning toward making purchases all across the board  that are ETHICAL. WHERE it’s made, isn’t necessarily as important as HOW it’s made.  AND YES, we WILL PAY MORE, but the goods you will be receiving will be made with INTEGRITY in exchange for a FAIR PRICE. If this upsets you, then maybe you should start working twice as many hours for half as much pay OR NO PAY at all, until you understand the concept of FAIR WAGE.

I think most of you will remember that story a few years ago involving Jaclyn Smith and Kathie Lee Gifford who fell under scrutiny when it was discovered their lines were being made in sweatshops for Kmart and Wal-Mart retailers…

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/14/nyregion/4-top-retailers-are-linked-to-2-factories-said-to-be-sweatshops.html

The story was front page news and created an uproar of awareness, but if you think those practices ended there,  I’ve got more news for you.

This is more likely the scenario, Watch this video made by Simple Plan for MTV stand on Ethical Fashion Practices for a peak into the world of child labor and the story of how a child’s cry for help got sewn into the hem of a shirt… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1__N77CLoEc

Do you shop for ethical products? I didn’t even know what that was until recently, when I was approached by an Ethical and ECO Designer to pattern and prototype her Eco Lux Collection.  Slowly through working with her, I became aware of things that are considered to be the “norm” in the fashion industry.  For example, she has been the first designer I have ever worked with that was concerned about the origins, working conditions and sustainability of the fabrics she was choosing for her collection….    Who knew that making silk fabric required the death of the silk worm? I had no idea that was even an option, well, it is an option and there are companies who allow the worm to live! A worm may seem like an insignificant sacrifice to some, but to others it is an animal rights issue and business practice, worthy of consideration. (and I thought drowning one in a bottle of Tequila was cruel!)

To learn more about the death of the silk worm and some Eco Fabric Choices Click Here…  http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/guide-natural-and-eco-friendly-fabrics

Once I become aware of something, especially something that is wrong or unethical, I become “convicted” for lack of a better word. I begin thinking about why it’s wrong, then try to figure out if there is a way to make it right. This is how you make a difference in this world, one person at a time, changing the way YOU think and hopefully changing the way YOU do things because of this new awareness.

Everything happens for a reason and the more things that start coming into my awareness under the same heading, I take as a sign from the Universe, that I should be paying attention. Enter my former employer. Mind you, when I was working for Marc Palmer, it was unrelated to the Fashion Business, it is his day job that funds his passion, which goes by the name of Fashion Hope, a Human Trafficking Awareness and Ethical Fashion Organization that supports setting up Ethical Production Facilities with Ethical Designers.

http://www.fashionhope.org/  and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fashion-Hope/140706195942899?fref=nf

Me, (yes, I am AD/HD LOL and DUH) Marc Palmer, Founder of Fashion Hope Organization and Frieda Friedman, Designer and Seamstress of Award Winning Competition Dancewear and Costume Fabrication Specialist at Universal Theme Parks

I knew about Marc’s Fashion Hope Organization in general, when we worked together, but since our jobs were not fashion related, we didn’t really talk about it much until I quit my day job working for him and began pursuing my sewing career full time a few years ago. Marc and I met up this last week and when we began discussing his new leather bag line Marko Taylor and the fashion business at my new home studio and Headquarters for Orlando Fashion District, which I am in the process of establishing! I share my home with 3 other Seamstress/Wardrobe/Costuming Ladies who all work with me at Universal Theme Parks.

While my roommate Elisabeth was sitting in, with the intent of using the fashion related meeting to write a post for her blog “Confessions of a Wardrobe Assistant”. The evening ended with Elisabeth accepting the role of Social Media Coordinator for Fashion Hope and planning a trip to NYC to attend Fashion Week to represent Fashion Hope’s Eco Couture and Ethical Designer, David Tupaz! Wow, stay tuned for more on that and go follow her blog @  http://confessionsofawardrobeasst.blogspot.com/ for all the latest on her adventures at Fashion Week and Beyond!

Photo: Gearing up for my first trip to NYC & NYC Fashion Week! #wardrobeconfession #fashionhopenews #nycfashionweek #davidtupaz #psychoseamstress

Ironically a few days earlier, Frieda’s client Shirl Clark came by to visit our home studio to discuss some of the issues she was having with the factories producing her line in China. Enter Marc and Fashion Hope, now they are working together to get Shirl on board with sourcing and producing her line through Fashion Hope.

Marc Palmer of Fashion Hope and Shirl Clark, Orlando Fashion Designer of Resort and Yacht Fashions.

Here is one of Shirl’s Best Selling Swimsuits, patterned and prototyped by Frieda Friedman, a genius pattern maker and now business partner in establishing Orlando Fashion District.  https://www.facebook.com/fafdesignsfl

ShirlClark

www.shirlclark.com and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/shirlclarkcollection

Well, now that you’ve become more aware, what are you willing to do about it?  Business as usual or change the world?

^

6 Ways You Can Help Support Ethical Products…

You may be saying to yourself, “I can’t afford to spend more money on the things I buy!”  Life is about making choices. Sometimes the hard ones are not easy. If what you have learned here has made you more aware, that will continue. More stories like this will catch your eye.

1. “How many slaves work for you?”  Take this quiz and find out… http://slaveryfootprint.org/survey/#where_do_you_live   After you take the quiz you can get access to information that will help you make better shopping decisions.

2. COMMIT. If you would like to STOP supporting industries that are unethical, then start by saying this “What would it take for me to stop supporting unethical industries?” When you ask questions, you get answers. (This is a prayer I say daily about many things in my life.)

3. DISCRIMINATE. Next time you are tempted to buy that $7 garment, wonder how it was made and ask yourself, “Do I really NEED this?” Maybe you could SHOP LESS and SPEND MORE by treating yourself less often with something that was made with integrity. Research companies that sell Ethical Goods and BUY THEM! Here is one… http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/source-directory/directory/4

4. RECYCLE. Shop at clothing resale stores and support recycling! Find one that you can take your gently used clothing to on a regular basis that has equally nice clothing to choose from.

5. HIRE DIRECT. Next time you want a new item of clothing for that special occasion, hire that local seamstress!

6. MAKE IT YOURSELF. Do you have a stockpile of fabrics and patterns for things you’ve intended on making for yourself? Commit to making yourself one item on a regular basis!

I say…

My Summer of 84 in NYC

My talented friend and Artist, Nancy Scheer​​ reminded me on Facebook that this is the 30 year anniversary of our summer at Parsons School of Design in NYC!
It was quite a hell hole back then, with a very high crime rate, but it was the unmatched epitome of fashion and music in the 1980’s.
At 17, I was let loose in NYC, with an electric guitar, some leather pants and some art supplies!
We attended art classes Monday To Thursday.
I took a Communication Design class in the days before computer graphics even existed. Commercial Art back then, consisted of using vinyl graphic Letraset type fonts and photo editing was literally cutting off someones head in one photo and paste it to another body! We had art by day and party by night.
I flew to NYC with a fellow artfag from High School, Chrisula Constantine.

My 1980's Birthday, Probably 17th.

My 1980’s Birthday, Probably 17th.

Chrissy and I had fully intended on moving to L.A. after High School to find the rest of our metal band we had already name “Latem Tar” (Metal Rat spelled backwards!) but then boys happened and I ended up moving to Florida, where I have remained since 85.

We shared a lofted Union Square apartment. Our bedroom, was basically two beds, up a 8″ ladder and the room below contained 2 wardrobes for our stuff and a small desk. We had a giant window that over looked the street and the building directly across.

We shared a kitchen and eating area with Vivian and Beth, who had a bedroom like ours. There was a common living and recreation area, shared by other students, down the hall and a pay phone. Most of the time the elevator was broken and we had to walk or stumble up 11 flights of stairs. We walked everywhere and had blisters for weeks!

Within a day or so, we noticed people across the street spying on us with cameras and binoculars, Chris and I went out and bought a giant Judas Priest poster which became our “curtain”, but since the open window was our only air conditioning, it stayed open 24/7. You could hear the riff raff on the streets, and smell the garbage from the 11th floor.

Our bathroom was notable and became a tour stop on our floor. Somehow we managed to get the handicap room with a giant walk in shower and toilet with bars on the side. We all took turns worshipping it.

We had the weekend to do whatever we wanted. I think I learned more on the weekends than I ever learned in school!
It was off the chain, we drank, bought food from vendors on the streets, partied, and carried on like rock stars. We went to a theme party that was a mock funeral, Coffin and all.

With the right amount of cash and looks, you could get into all the hot clubs like the famous Danceteria from the Movie “Desperately Seeking Susan”. It was there, where Madonna was, that I got squished into a tiny elevator with a hot guy, I would later fall in love with and not see or hear from again, until he found me 25 years later.

@ Michel's NYU Dorm Room

@ Michel’s NYU Dorm Room

NYC back then was the home to Studio 54, The Limelight, CBGB’s, The Underground, The Peppermint Lounge and more. The local news paper was “The Village Voice”. The famous shops were “Trash and Vaudeville” and resale stores with clothes to die for! We visited all of those places.

I went to a concert and saw Ratt, Twisted Sister and my hero at the time, Lita Ford on the Pier. I was wearing purple spandex pants and some jerk put his cigarette out on my leg!

Lita Ford's Guitar and Roadcase

The elevator guy looked like a rock star, he was attending NYU and later became a famous Heavy Metal DJ at L’Amour’s, Michel Gutman, he still has the epic CD collection to prove it! (in 2009, he returned to the states after living in Israel, we lived together for about 9 months in Hot Springs AR, then split, but that’s another story!)

Chrisula and I would get dressed up each weekend to attended the midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Live performances with the famous guy on the record, Sal. I bought an Adam Ant record at Bleeker Bobs, some purple leather pants at CC Stars and ate Pizza at Ray’s. One day my art teacher (whose name, I can’t remember) was eating something I had never seen before, it was Sushi, she let me try some and I’ve been hooked ever since. She threw a party at her loft apartment in an old dockside factory, we traveled by the Twin Towers and what I think was the Brooklyn Bridge to get there.

I just realize, wow, I still am wearing, at this very moment the black rubber vacuum cleaner o ring bracelet I bought in a store across the street from the famous Electric Lady recording studio built by Jimi Hendrix, where Chrisula Constantine and I were stalking, to get a glimpse of KISS who was allegedly recording there.

I saw the Gay Parade march down 5th Ave and the Statue of Liberty covered in scaffolding as that was the year they did some restoration work on it.

I remember walking down the street one day and someone stopped me to ask where the Empire State Building was, I turned and looked at the skyline and realized I had been living only blocks away, all this time!

I spent the 4th of July on Tar Beach, the roof of our building watching fireworks and the Macy’s parade.

In 1998 I got a 3am motorcycle tour of NYC and rode by the building I once lived in on Union Square, the former lobby had since become a restaurant and was all fixed up. A lot had changed for the better.

The experience of living in New York City for the summer of 1984, was priceless. It was truly one of the best summers of my life. I am sure it was scary for my parents, but I’m glad they let me go. It was an amazing adventure.