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Production Mode Press: Paper Magazine

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Produc­tion Mode felt skirt featured on Papermagazine.com.

Photo by Diego Campos

Styling by Kit This with assis­tance from Tanner C. Bran­son.

Hair by Randy Wilder at 10 Mgmt

Makeup by Andrea Samuels at Factor

Mani­cure by Ashley Crowe

Prop Styling by Kelly McKaig

Cloth­ing Cred­its:

Left to Right: Cortazia, Grace, Erica

Grace wears Alex Carter coat, at Sir & Madame. Alice and Olivia blouse, at Nord­strom. Cities in Dust double disc earrings. Manolo Blah­nik.

Cortazia wears Odeeh blouse, at Chalk Evanston. Roland Mouret pants, at Chalk Glen­coe. Balen­ci­aga belt, at Blake. A Détacher slides, at Robin Rich­man.

Erica wears Carven sweater, at Chalk Evanston. Produc­tion Mode skirt. Manolo Blah­nik shoes.

http://www.papermag.com/hotline-bling-2509133514.html

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Art Institute: PM Designer Jamie Hayes Leads Roundtable Discussion

This fall the Art Insti­tute invited me to acti­vate the exhibit Revoli­ut­siia! Demon­strat­siia! Soviet Art Put to the Test. As part of the exhibit, cura­tors asked differ­ent artists to host an event within the Work­ers Club, a recon­struc­tion of Alek­sandr Rodchenko’s 1925 design, Work­ers Clubs were spaces for leisure and educa­tion for work­ers and their fami­lies located within Soviet facto­ries.

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I gath­ered ten activist/artists to discuss the ques­tion: What is the role of the artist/activist in dark polit­i­cal times?” Our group spent the morn­ing discussing our own expe­ri­ences with art and social justice, and the inter­sec­tion of the two.

We talked about the fallacy of think­ing of time and evolu­tion as linear, and also the hubris that artists alone can rein­vent soci­ety. We also talked about the impor­tance of contin­u­ing to make art, polit­i­cal or other­wise, as the act of creat­ing keeps us vibrant and helps us to dream of a better, more just and loving future.

The exhibit explores the role of artists in build­ing soci­ety during the time period imme­di­ately follow­ing the Soviet Revo­lu­tion, and incred­i­bly rich period of art history. This period of Russ­ian Construc­tivism is espe­cially influ­en­tial to my work, not only aesthet­i­cally, but also in terms of the way that Construc­tivist artists consid­ered the whole cycle of produc­tion.

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Graphic designs in the exhi­bi­tion

Artists like Stepanova and Popova under­stood the impor­tance of cloth­ing design, and consid­ered the design of the 2-D print in rela­tion to the cut of the cloth­ing to produce 3-dimen­sional shapes on the body. They designed so as to waste as little cloth as possi­ble, work­ing directly with textile mills to inte­grate the surface pattern design with the patterns used to cut the cloth.

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Textile by Popova

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Textile by Stepanova

They also under­stood fashion’s role in creat­ing iden­tity within soci­ety. In fact, already in the early 1920s, they were using design to ques­tion and subvert gender and class roles.

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Designs by Varvara Stepanova

It was a time when the “lesser arts” like cloth­ing and textile design were consid­ered to be of the utmost impor­tance because of their preva­lence through­out soci­ety and due to the intense amount of human and natural resources required to produce cloth­ing. In addi­tion, gender equity was a pillar of the revo­lu­tion, so  tradi­tion­ally “femi­nine” arts like cloth­ing design, as well as female artists like Stepanova and Popova,  were well respected at the time. IMG_8553

The exhibit runs through Janu­ary 15, 2018.

Thank you to Annemarie Strassel, Abigail Glaum-Lath­bury, Ayesha Jaco, Damon Locks, Hoda Katebi, Char­lie Vinz, Eve Fine­man, Megha Rala­p­ati, & Terri Kapsalis for join­ing me in the discus­sion.

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MOVE/REPEAT Collection Launch & Studio Open House

Photo by Sara Pooley of Emma Collins (L) in a Produc­tion Mode drop crotch jump­suit & Linda Pulik ® in the maxi tunic at our collec­tion debut perfor­mance
We invite you to the launch of our new collec­tion, MOVE/REPEAT, at our produc­tion space/showroom, Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties. The collec­tion will be avail­able for purchase at special preview prices as a thank you to early support­ers.

The collec­tion features textiles designed and woven in Chicago by our neigh­bors, The Weav­ing Mill. We spent over a year devel­op­ing the textiles, a felted merino wool/cotton blend, in collab­o­ra­tion with Mexico City-based artist Nuria Montiel. The result­ing weav­ings inspired by her draw­ings and art prac­tice.

We then devel­oped a collec­tion of wrapped and draped capes, tunics, hoods, and over­sized coats that cocoon and cloak the wearer. All items are designed, cut, and sewn in our Logan Square studio follow­ing a slow fash­ion model of ethi­cal produc­tion.

In July we debuted the work on dancers in a piece chore­o­graphed by Anna Martine White­head, with music by Damon Locks, and set pieces by Nuria Montiel at the Hyde Park Art Center.

We now are coming full circle to present the work in our work­shop, an inti­mate setting where pieces can be tried on and fitted at your leisure.

Also on view will be the first Produc­tion Mode Collec­tion, the full Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties collec­tion, and Morua corsetry and couture, all made in the Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties space.

Join us as we cele­brate the launch of our new collec­tion!

Details:

Collec­tion Launch/Studio Open House
Satur­day, August 19th, 2–8 pm
Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties
3013 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

Produc­tion Mode warp getting ready to be put on the loom at the Weav­ing Mill. Photo still from the film “Floor­plan” by Julia Dratel.
 

 

Martine White­head (L) & Keyierra Collins ® wrapped in the “sketch” blan­ket created by the Weav­ing Mill to final­ize textile designs on the loom. Photo by Sara Pooley from the MOVE/REPEAT perfor­mance.

 

 

Photo by Sara Pooley of Keyierra Collins, Petty Crocker/Itunu Ebijimi, PM designer Jamie Hayes, & Martine White­head, and perhaps others in the knot … 🙂
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Production Mode MOVE/REPEAT Collection Debut on 7/7!

Produc­tion Mode’s New Collec­tion Debuts  July 7th at 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Art Center
 

 

 

MOVE/REPEAT: An Evening of Dance, Fash­ion, & Music

The new Produc­tion Mode collec­tion premieres Friday, July 7th, at Hyde Park Art Center with a dance perfor­mance chore­o­graphed by Anna Martine White­head, set pieces by Nuria Montiel Perez Grovas and live elec­tronic music by Damon Locks. The dancers will perform in the collec­tion.
 

Emily Winter ® of The Weav­ing Mill sampling on the loom to final­ize textile designs for the Produc­tion Mode collec­tion along with PM designer Jamie Hayes (L).

 

The collec­tion features 5 custom textiles, made of felted merino wool/cotton woven in Chicago by the Weav­ing Mill in collab­o­ra­tion with Nuria Montiel. As always, the collec­tion is designed, cut and sewn in-house at our studio/showroom, Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties. Expect draped, wrapped, and twisted silhou­ettes, combined with soft, tailored pieces–blankets and wraps to cocoon in.
 

Many of the pieces in the new collec­tion are designed to be worn in multi­ple ways, so will come with with pins made at Busy Beaver Button Co. to allow the wearer to play with styling.

MOVE/REPEAT

Details:

Friday, July 7th
Doors Open | 6:30pm
Perfor­mance Begins | 7pm sharp
Recep­tion + Trunk Show to follow perfor­mance

Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Ave.
Chicago, IL 60615

 

 

 

Join us for an evening of dance, music, art, & fash­ion! More info can be found here: http://www.hydeparkart.org/events/2017–07-07-moverepeat-an-evening-of-dance-fashion-music

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PM Designer Jamie Hayes Voted “Best Local Designer” in Chicago Reader Poll

Thanks, Chicago, for voting me “Best Local Designer”. I’m grate­ful for this beau­ti­ful city and commu­nity that has always been so support­ive of me and my work!I’m excited to show you our next collec­tion: MOVE/REPEAT, debut­ing July 7th at 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Art Center. Addi­tional details can be found here: http://www.hydeparkart.org/events/2017–07-07-moverepeat-an-evening-of-dance-fashion-music 
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Summer 2017 News & Events

Produc­tion Mode designer, Jamie Hayes, has been nomi­nated as “Best Local Fash­ion Designer” by the Chicago Reader.

Vote here through 6/12 at noon. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, June 24th: Open House & Trunk Show with Lill Street Jewelry & Ceramics

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Join us Satur­day, June 24th, from noon-5 pm at our showroom/production space, Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties for a trunk show featur­ing a curated selec­tion of contem­po­rary haute craft jewelry and ceram­ics from  Lill­street Gallery.  We’ll have liba­tions created and served by Mott Street.  In addi­tion, the Produc­tion Mode collec­tion will be on hand along with Morua and Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties, and as always, you can tour our produc­tion space and try on our wares. 

Details:

Open House & Lill­street Gallery Trunk Show
Satur­day, June 24th, noon- 5 pm
Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties
3013 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
www.departmentofcuriosities.com

Production Mode’s New Collection Debuts on July 7th at Hyde Park Art Center!

MOVE/REPEAT: An Evening of Dance, Fash­ion, & Music

The new Produc­tion Mode collec­tion premieres Friday, July 7th, at Hyde Park Art Center with a dance perfor­mance chore­o­graphed by Anna Martine White­head, set pieces by Nuria Montiel Perez Grovas and live elec­tronic music by Damon Locks. The dancers will perform in the collec­tion.

The collec­tion features 5 custom textiles, made of felted merino wool/cotton woven in Chicago by the Weav­ing Mill in collab­o­ra­tion with Nuria Montiel. As always, the collec­tion is designed, cut and sewn in-house at our studio/showroom, Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties. Expect draped, wrapped, and twisted silhou­ettes, combined with soft, tailored pieces–blankets and wraps to cocoon in.

Details:

Friday, July 7th
Doors Open | 6:30pm
Perfor­mance Begins | 7pm sharp
Recep­tion + Trunk Show to follow perfor­mance

Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Ave.
Chicago, IL 60615

Recent Press

Thanks to Culture Trip for featur­ing Produc­tion Mode designer, Jamie Hayes, as a Chicago-based designer to watch. And thank you, for watch­ing:) Read more here.
 

 

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Thank you to The Brval­ist for featur­ing Produc­tion Mode and for delv­ing into the roman­tic grit of Chicago’s Inde­pen­dent Fash­ion Scene. In Chicago, we are defi­nitely outside of the fash­ion system. I love that this arti­cle featured design­ers that acknowl­edge and embrace this outsider status. We do it by work­ing outside of the tradi­tional fash­ion calen­dar in a slow fash­ion model, making all of our work in-house at our Logan Square atelier. Read more about Chicago’s rich design land­scape here.
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Production Mode Holiday Events

 

We invite you to view our collec­tion during the holi­days at the follow­ing events …

 

 

Decem­ber 1st-4th, we will be at the One of a Kind Show at Chicago’s Merchan­dise Mart. Come see us at Booth #3099, along with our sister brand, Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties.

 

Satur­na­lia will take over our shop, Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties, from Decem­ber 10–18th! In addi­tion to our in-house lines, Produc­tion Mode, Morua, and DOC, we will also show­case the wares of fellow independent/slow fash­ion design­ers and arti­sans.

In addi­tion, please join us for the follow­ing special events: 

  • Musi­cal perfor­mance by Nick Mazzarella & Damon Locks, Satur­day, Decem­ber 10th 5 pm (free)
  • Saffron Vintage Trunk Show Decem­ber 10th-11th during busi­ness hours
  • The Funda­men­tals of Fragrance: Resins & Woods, Sunday, Decem­ber 11th, 6 pm (tick­eted)
  • Lecture by fash­ion histo­rian Jacque­line Wayne­Guite, Monday, Decem­ber 12th at 6 pm (free)
  • Midnight Kitchen Projects Tast­ing & Demo, Friday, Decem­ber 16th, 7 pm (tick­eted)

Recent Press

 

Thank you, to Bill­board Maga­zine, and styl­ist Whit­ney Middle­ton, for featur­ing our vegetable tanned leather top on the cover of the recent Grammy preview issue. 

 

Thanks to Newc­ity Chicago for featur­ing Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties and Produc­tion Mode in 2016’s Best of issue. Read more here!

 

Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at one of our holi­day events!

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Production Mode Press: Billboard Magazine Cover

Produc­tion Mode vegetable tanned leather top featured on the cover of Bill­board Maga­zine, as shot by Austin Hargrave, styled by Whit­ney Middle­ton, and worn by Grammy nomi­nee Maren Morris.

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And here are more shots of Morris from the print maga­zine, wear­ing a Produc­tion Mode vegetable tanned leather coat, paired with a Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties long­line bra (our sister line, co-designed by PM designer, Jamie Hayes).

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And another shot from the Bill­board website of Morris along­side Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper:

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Read more and watch a video of Morris here.

 

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Interview with Ethical Fashion Site Trusted Clothes (Part Two)

Trusted Clothes, an orga­ni­za­tion devoted to promot­ing ethi­cal and  sustain­able fash­ion, recently inter­viewed me for their blog. Below is another excerpt from Part 2 of the inter­view, writ­ten by Scott Douglas Jacob­sen.

What makes Produc­tion Mode unique?

The propri­etary, exclu­sive mate­ri­als. Also the level of transparency—I share where the mate­ri­als come from and who makes the garments. In fact,  you can come into our studio and see first­hand how things are made.  I would also say the qual­ity of the fit. I consulted with a tech­ni­cal designer with many years of expe­ri­ence work­ing with leather to refine the fit. A lot of time and energy was spent on these patterns. The fit is very good for ready-to-wear, and then can be further refined for people that can come to Chicago for a fitting. That’s some­thing a lot of design­ers don’t offer.

jamie hayes trusted clothes interviewThe Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties Space

Your inau­gural collec­tion consisted of leather that was vegetable tanned from a union­ized shop, Chicago’s Horween tannery. Why the Horween tannery for the inau­gural collec­tion?

For a couple reasons, one was a happy acci­dent. I was discussing the custom print with Paula Wilson, the designer of the print. She said, “What color should the base cloth be?” I refer­enced one of her paint­ings. She said, “Oh, a hide color.” I had a light­bulb moment. I said, “No, no, you should print it on a hide!”

The search then began for the best qual­ity leather. Leather is touchy if you’re talk­ing about “ethi­cal” fash­ion. Some people, under­stand­ably, do not see leather as ethi­cal since an animal must die in order to produce it. I respect and under­stand that.

That said, there are many other issues of ethics in leather produc­tion. I wanted to be as famil­iar with my suppli­ers as possi­ble. And there is one tannery left in Chicago, Horween Leather. They use the process of vegetable tanning– an arti­sanal, tradi­tional way to tan leather that uses organic plant matter such as sticks, barks, and tree extracts. It is a 6-weeks process in contrast to chrome-tanning, which is a 6-hour process.

Chrome-tanning uses chromium, which is a heavy metal and highly carcino­genic. So the choice to use vegetable tanned leather became really clear for me. I didn’t want to use a mate­r­ial that is carcinogenic–especially know­ing that these carcino­gens will end up in our water­ways or land­fills. Also, I learned that vegetable-tanned leather tends to age much better than chrome-tanned leather. So if you think how vintage leather goods get that great patina versus a scuffed, worn out look that is typi­cal nowa­days, that’s the differ­ence between a vegetable tan and a chrome tan.

In terms of the qual­ity, aesthet­ics, the envi­ron­ment, and work­ers’ rights (Horween is a union­ized factory), it was an easy deci­sion to go with Horween. In addi­tion, it is wonder­ful space to visit. It’s less than a mile from my studio, so I can go there when­ever I want and speak to my sales repre­sen­ta­tive. Plus the money I spend with Horween stays within the local econ­omy.

jamie hayes interview trusted clothesJamie pick­ing out leather at Horween tannery

All of these things were serendip­i­tous, and helped provide the direc­tion for the collec­tion. Since Chicago’s fash­ion indus­try is pretty deci­mated at this point, there really aren’t many options in the ways of mills or even fabric reps here in Chicago. Horween is the last tannery left in Chicago.

The hides were designed by Paula J. Wilson, executed by Nora Renick-Rine­hart, and then stitched by Klezar. What is the impor­tance of this network of vari­ous indi­vid­u­als with differ­ent skill-sets to the over­all produc­tion line for the final prod­ucts?

We have this cult of artist or the designer. This idea that the person does every­thing them­selves. Even if you’re amaz­ingly talented and good at everything–designing, print­ing, cutting, and stitch­ing, you’re only one person. You can’t do every­thing. Art and design are always done in collab­o­ra­tion, whether people are trans­par­ent about that or not.

I am not a screen-printer. I am a good stitcher for a designer, but I am noth­ing like Klezar. I do as much as I can myself, espe­cially at first, to educate myself about a process, so that I can better commu­ni­cate with the team. For exam­ple, I did do a few screen-prints on leather. However, there’s no way I could execute anything close to as wonder­ful as Paula and Nora. It takes years and years of prac­tice to achieve their level of exper­tise.

A true collab­o­ra­tion becomes better than the sum of its parts. Every­one is push­ing each other. Every­one is open to new ideas. Hope­fully, what comes out takes you to a place you wouldn’t normally go with your own art work; I like to think that’s what happened with this art collec­tion.

If people want to look more into things, they can look at the showroom/production space, the Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties. What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

A couple of things. I am active in the Chicago Fair Trade, where we are involved in anti-sweat­shop advo­cacy work here in Chicago. Also, I do tech­ni­cal design for other ethi­cal design compa­nies.

At Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties, the space that I share with another designer, Gerry Quin­ton, we recently designed and launched a line of slow fash­ion, ethi­cally made lingerie and night­wear under the name Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties.

jamie hayes interview trusted clothes

Jamie Hayes & Gerry Quin­ton; photo cour­tesy of Frank Maga­zine.

Also, I am going to have a pop-up shop at the theWit Hotel in Chicago in the month of August, and a fash­ion show on August 25th, show­ing both Produc­tion Mode and Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties, at their rooftop space.

I’m launch­ing the next Produc­tion Mode line in the Fall.

And I am involved with the League of Women Design­ers in Chicago.

You mentioned a shared value with Gerry. I suspect this for other collab­o­ra­tions as well. That leaves me to think, “What mean­ing or personal fulfill­ment does this work bring for you?”

So much personal fulfillment—that’s really key to me! I have worked in the fash­ion indus­try since 1999, but I actu­ally left the field for a few years because I was miss­ing that personal fulfill­ment. I had to do some soul search­ing. While I loved the process of design, design­ing and making cloth­ing and express­ing myself though style, I really needed to check in with myself and face what was going on in the indus­try.

First of all, I had to find a way to work in the fash­ion indus­try while still respect­ing a basic ethi­cal framework–one in which people and the earth are respected, and in which we as consumers curb our own consump­tion levels. Also, I needed to ques­tion some of the main tenets of the indus­try. It is common prac­tice in the indus­try to create and promote a culture which makes the consumer feel badly about them­selves. Then we imply that they can solve those body/­self-image issues through purchas­ing things, espe­cially cloth­ing, to make them­selves feel better or to distract them­selves from the ills in their lives.

I had to dig deeper and think, “What’s the social mean­ing of fash­ion? How can style be used in a posi­tive way to build self-esteem, to help a person express their iden­tity and culture – to find out who they are?”

My work post-grad­u­ate school has been guided by these ques­tions and issues. That’s been key to me find­ing personal fulfill­ment in my work.

For me, fabric, color, textures, line and pattern bring me great joy. I hope I bring joy to my clients as well. There’s joy in art and design. All of those things keep me going and bring me great personal satis­fac­tion. I feel lucky to do some­thing that I love that is in line with my values. Sadly, I think that’s a rare thing in our culture right now. I wish it weren’t the case, but I feel lucky to be situ­ated here.

With regard to organizations/companies, and so on, like Trusted Clothes and Produc­tion Mode, what’s the impor­tance of them to you?

It is to show an alter­na­tive to the main­stream. That it is possi­ble to create and purchase ethi­cally-made, well-designed cloth­ing. Also, to get people in the indus­try to ques­tion how things are made, and  hope­fully, to create a sea change.

I look forward to a future where there are no more ethi­cal cloth­ing or aggre­ga­tor sites like Trusted Cloth­ing. Ethi­cal, sustain­able manu­fac­ture should be the norm. Until it is, though, we defi­nitely need to keep spread­ing the word and asking for change in the larger commu­nity.


Thanks to Trusted Clothes and author Scott Douglas Jacob­sen for the inter­view, and for their support of Ethi­cal Fash­ion!

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Interview with Ethical Fashion Site Trusted Clothes

Trusted Clothes, an orga­ni­za­tion devoted to promot­ing ethi­cal and  sustain­able fash­ion, recently inter­viewed me for their blog. Below is an excerpt of the inter­view, writ­ten by Scott Douglas Jacob­sen.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE HAYES (PART ONE)

Jaime Hayes interview trusted clothes

Tell us about your­self – family back­ground, personal story, educa­tion, and previ­ous profes­sional capac­i­ties.

I started in the fash­ion indus­try in 1999 in St. Louis, work­ing at a boutique after college, and sewing after my senior year in college because I wanted some­thing hands-on and concrete. I was study­ing English liter­a­ture, and while I loved to read and write, it was abstract and alien­at­ing for me. My person­al­ity type doesn’t mesh with it.

Jaime hayes interview trusted clothes

PM Studio- photo by Damon Locks

It is nice, at the end of the day, to have a pile of work, see what you’ve accom­plished, and in a concrete way. I moved to Chicago to get a second BA at Colum­bia College in Fash­ion Design. I was lucky. I got a job in the indus­try while I in school. It was at a hand­bag company called 1154 Lill Studio.

The company was a real pioneer in mass customiza­tion. As a result, we needed to make every­thing one-by-one, made-to-order, and with a quick turn­around time – three weeks. We made every­thing in-house first and then in the Chicago area. It was a lesson in produc­tion manage­ment and effi­ciency. I was seeing local manu­fac­tur­ers first­hand, which was rare at a time when almost every­body was offshoring.

My conscious­ness was raised in work­ing with contrac­tors and real­iz­ing that a lot of people don’t get paid fairly, making friends with stitch­ers, and hear­ing their stories of immi­gra­tion and exploita­tion in the sewing indus­try. So, I started asking ques­tions and becom­ing consci­en­tious.

Jaime Hayes INterview

100% Wool Felt Top and Vegetable Tanned Leather Skirt. Photo is by Jenni Hamp­shire.

I ended up getting a grad­u­ate degree, a Master’s degree at the Univer­sity Chicago in Social Work. I focused on labor rights in the garment indus­try. I worked as a labor orga­nizer for a few years in Chicago. Primar­ily, I was work­ing with undoc­u­mented, Mexi­can population–frontline work­ers.

I was giving train­ing on worker’s rights and help­ing to orga­nize campaigns in the work place. However, I missed work­ing with my hands—the colors and textures of fashion–the more direct creativ­ity that world affords. Follow­ing this, I joined Chicago Fair Trade and became involved in that move­ment as a volun­teer help­ing to pass a Sweat­free Ordi­nance at the city and county level in Chicago.

Also, I took on a lot of free­lance work with fair trade compa­nies. I worked for SERRV. They sent me to China. I did some work in Peru, in the Lima area. Also, I have done a lot of tech­ni­cal design for local compa­nies in ethi­cal and fair trade fash­ion. Finally, I launched my own line in Janu­ary of 2015.

You argue for a living wage for work­ers. Why is it impor­tant for the sustain­able and ethi­cal fash­ion indus­try?

It is impor­tant across the board. I’m focused on fash­ion because that’s what I do for a living. It is impor­tant in a more global level as well. Fash­ion, cloth­ing, and sewn prod­ucts are some of the most labor inten­sive indus­tries in the whole world. It is a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ indus­try.

Jaime Hayes interview trusted clothes

Hand Burnished Leather Coin Purse- photo by Linda Pulik

Anyone inter­ested in women’s rights, support­ing those most easily exploited, or erad­i­cat­ing poverty, would do well to look at the fash­ion indus­try because that’s the ‘bottom.’ We can find the easily exploited people there.

If these work­ers can be paid well and treated fairly, we can do a lot to improve the rights of women and young girls, erad­i­cate poverty, improve health outcomes, increase liter­acy, and so on. It is a huge issue. We need to be aware of it. In Chicago, the labor move­ment cites $15/hour as the living wage.

So, we pay above that for our stitcher. That’s how we gauge that here, but it is differ­ent in each city and coun­try based on the cost of living in that place.

To sepa­rate two ideas float­ing around in the conver­sa­tion, the phrase “ethi­cal and sustain­able fash­ion,” but this belies two sepa­rate and related ideas. Ethi­cal fash­ion on the one hand; sustain­able fash­ion on the other hand. To start, what is the impor­tance of ethi­cal fash­ion to you?

For me, the impor­tance is the human factor. Nobody should be dying while making our clothes. Even so, 2013 was the dead­liest year on record in the fash­ion indus­try. If you look back histor­i­cally, it is simi­lar to the begin­ning of the 20th century in the US with the Trian­gle Shirt­waist Factory fire. People die while making fash­ion. That’s ridicu­lous.

What we’re speak­ing of when we say ethi­cal fash­ion is really base­line, sadly. People should make a living wage. A wage that allows them to live on and support a family. To be frank, $15/hour in Chicago would not be enough in Chicago, but it’s better than the mini­mum wage in Chicago.

Secondly, people should work in a healthy and safe envi­ron­ment. Sadly, that’s not the case in a lot of the garment indus­try, espe­cially that which is offshored.

What is the impor­tance of sustain­able fash­ion to you?

The issues are simi­lar. There’s over­lap, but sustain­abil­ity refers to the envi­ron­ment and issues affect­ing the planet. I come out of the labor move­ment. So, I am less educated about those issues, but even if you just look at sustain­abil­ity from a human perspec­tive, the health of the planet has huge rami­fi­ca­tions for every­one.

We are all connected. We should care about what is happen­ing on the other side of the world. It is about human rights. We all deserve basic human rights, and beyond that, the abil­ity to thrive and grow. From the human perspec­tive, the pesti­cides that are used to grow our cotton, the petro­leum that is used to create poly­ester, the dyes that are used to create the colors in the fabrics … all of these things affect the work­ers who are apply­ing those pesti­cides or dyes. They go into our water supplies. It is about treat­ing out world well. There is huge over­lap between issues of sustain­abil­ity and ethics.

jamie hayes interview trusted clothes

Hand Screen Printed Leather Jacket; photo by Damien Thomp­son Photog­ra­phy

My favorite term is slow fash­ion because this takes into account the qual­ity of the prod­uct and the design. It’s coming out of and inspired by the slow food move­ment, the tenets of which are to know the prove­nance of this food or, in our case, the cloth­ing. So, where do our clothes come from? What about the raw mate­ri­als like the cotton, wool, poly, or leather? To have trans­parency about that, to appre­ci­ate and value the item, the expe­ri­ence around it, to slow down, buy less, buy higher qual­ity. That’s impor­tant infor­ma­tion to provide as a designer. Because, to be honest, you cannot do every­thing perfectly, espe­cially as a small company. You might not know all of the labor condi­tions in the factory that makes your zippers or buttons, but you can choose the high­est qual­ity zipper.  This can allow the garment to have as long a life as possi­ble.

Some­times, we have to think about compet­ing issues and balance those all out. Slow fash­ion is the most honest way to do that as a designer in my opin­ion.

What was the inspi­ra­tion for Produc­tion Mode – and its title?

(Laughs) Coming out of the labor move­ment, I have done a lot of neo-Marx­ist read­ings. I was think­ing about means of produc­tion and the orga­ni­za­tion of work, and what brings people joy. I was think­ing about that when I named the company.

But the inspi­ra­tion goes way beyond that. At the end of the day, I am a designer. I love fash­ion. I think we need to make a lot of changes in the indus­try, but I love cloth­ing as a means of self-expres­sion. It brings me a lot of joy. I think it brings a lot of people on this planet a lot of joy. It’s an expres­sion of who we are: our culture, iden­tity, values. It doesn’t have to be a super­fi­cial, passive consumer expe­ri­ence.  It could be tailored to fit your body exactly. That’s how it was used for generations—until recently, in fact.

Now, it is a dispos­able thing. It doesn’t have to be that way. One thing I always want to be a part of the company is the concept of artist collab­o­ra­tion. It stretches me as a designer. It makes sure there is some­thing unique about the prod­uct and time­less.

For exam­ple, for the first line that I launched, I collab­o­rated with an artist named Paula J. Wilson. She designed an all-over print for leather. Another artist, Nora Renick-Rine­hart, executed the print and applied it to leather. It is not some­thing seen often with leather. It is limited edition. It is designed by a well-known artist. So, there’s a whole story. I can trace the prove­nance of the mate­ri­als, the print, the execu­tion of the print, etc.

For the next line, which I’ll launch in the Fall of this year, the fabric is designed in collab­o­ra­tion with an artist named Nuria Montiel. It is executed by local weavers called the Weav­ing Mill in Chicago. They are located about a mile from my studio. They have two indus­trial dobby looms. It is a collab­o­ra­tion between the four of us to produce the fabric for the line. It can’t be found anywhere else. It was inspired by Nuria’s art work, influ­enced by the textiles of the Bauhaus move­ment, and Peru­vian and Mexi­can textile tradi­tions.

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I’ll post part two soon. Thanks to Trusted Clothes and author Scott Douglas Jacob­sen for the inter­view, and for their support of Ethi­cal Fash­ion!
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