Production Mode Press: Chicago Reader Feature
Thanks to the Chicago Reader for featuring Production Mode in their Space Feature, and for championing our brand of slow fashion: ethically sourced, locally made-to-order clothing, built to last.
Take a virtual tour of the Department of Curiosities, the production space/showroom co-founded and co-run by myself and Gerry Quinton of Morua, below. We are open every Friday from 12–7 pm, and by appointment. Come by for a tour, consultation, or to pick up some of our ready-made items.Read more
Production Mode’s St. Louis Connection & Press
This past spring I had the pleasure of reconnecting with the fashion community in my hometown of St. Louis. Back in the 1930s and 40s, St. Louis had a thriving garment district, specializing in junior clothing.
image from St. Louis Magazine
There are still vestiges of the garment industry in St. Louis, and it was there that I learned how to sew, in the basement of the Winston’s Fabrics. The teacher was an extremely talented woman who ran the alterations room at a Sak’s Fifth Avenue for many years. She was an inspiration- she could adapt a crappy home sewing pattern into a fashionable, well-fitting garment, and shared all kinds of garment industry sewing secrets with us, and seemed to be having more fun in her retirement than most of my university peers.
It’s lovely now to see new designers, artists, and curators reclaiming and reinvigorating the fashion world in St. Louis. I was lucky enough to connect with this community during my recent visits, thanks to artist Paula J. Wilson, with whom I was visiting during her time as Beaumont Artist-in-Residence at Washington University.
First, I met with Angela Malchionno and Carly Hilo of the Enamel, their mission, which focuses on both process and final product, was a perfect fit for showcasing the Production Mode line. Their goal- to highlight the lineage of products—where they come from, how they were made, and their impact on environment and community–is a inspiration. In a short time they’ve been able to build an engaged and educated audience for conscious textiles and the creation thereof in St. Louis.
Production Mode’s first pop-up was held there at the end of March. In anticipation of the event, both St. Louis Magazine and Alive Magazine published interviews with myself and Enamel co-founder, Angela Malchionno. Read more here and here. In order to highlight Enamel’s process-oriented mission, Paula Wilson brought her wood burnishing tools and demoed pyrographing on leather during the event, along with other artist friends visiting St. Louis at the time, Sara Velas, of the Velaslavaysay Panorama in Los Angeles, and Damon Locks of Chicago.
Photo Montage by Weird Cult(ure). More on the event from their great article on Enamel and the Production Mode pop-up can be found here.
Attendees got in on the action, too, as seen in this video of pyrographing, also from Weird Cult(ure).
On my next visit to St. Louis, I was lucky enough to visit projects+gallery, a new gallery in the Central West End focusing on the intersection of art and fashion. Their first exhibit is a stunner- a retrospective of Hideki Seo’s work.
I’m excited to see projects+gallery develop, and to see its effects on the design community in St. Louis and the region, and to see my hometown prospering and nurturing the connections between fashion and art.
June Production Mode Events!
I’m excited to announce that Production Mode will be participating in several great events in Chicago this June. First up:
This Wednesday, June 3rd, please join me for the one-night only screening of the True Cost film at the Patio Theater. The film documents the detrimental effects of the fast fashion industry on consumers, producers, and our environment. Production Mode will be part of the panel discussion after the film, along with the director, producer, and other Chicago Fair Trade members. Ethical fashion brands including Production Mode will be on display and for sale before and after the film, and on hand to answer questions about slow vs. fast fashion and transparency in sourcing. Below is a video clip of me speaking about many of the film’s themes at last year’s Greenheart Transforms conference.
Next up, we’ll be participating in our first Dose Market, Sunday, June 14th, at Venue One, 1034 W. Randolph in the West Loop. Tickets are $8 online, $10 at the door, both include free drink ticket for 21+ … online tickets include a $15 gift certificate to Pretty Quick and a chance to win a trip from Mr & Mrs Smith. Tons of talented Chicago artists, artisans, and purveyors of slow food and fashion will be on-hand. Meet the makers and help build the local design community here in Chicago!
A Cabinet of Curiosities, March 22nd in Chicago.
This Sunday, March 22nd, from 1–5 pm, Production Mode & Morua will be hosting a Cabinet of Curiosities event at our shared workshop/storefront, Department of Curiosities, 3013 W. Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647.
Along with our two lines, we’ll also be showcasing the lovely fused glass and molten metal works of Etta Kostick Jewelry.
Also on hand will be Damon Locks, who will show his digital collages and screen prints. His works make me question my sense of persepective, both literally and metaphorically. Damon Locks- X-Ray Pt. 2
Territory Design will also show lovingly sourced and curated textiles and crafts from all corners of the world, including these handmade, lidded palm basket from Oaxaca, Mexico, shown below.
Morua and Production Mode’s lines will also be on display, and our production/studio space will also be on view.
The artists/designers behind each line will be available to describe their process and wares. Please come out to celebrate and support Chicago’s art and design community!
Chicago Magazine Feature
A little context on the genesis of D.O.C.: for years Gerry Quinton (designer of Morua) and I dreamed of sharing a studio. Finally when she moved back from England at the end of 2013, we began to look for spaces. We found so much more than we bargained for–not only a studio, but also a storefront, and thus, D.O.C. was born.
Over the past year, the space and concept have taken shape slowly, as time and money would permit. First, we had to find our aesthetic–separate from our two very different lines. Second, we had to furnish the store–mainly with a lot of sweat equity and with help from our very generous and handy friends and neighbors. Next came our launch party in late January, celebrating our respective lines and our now-presentable space. Now we are creating under the D.O.C. name as well as under our respective labels. We hope to launch our first collaborative collection in August of 2015. In the meantime, we’ve expanded to Fridays from 12–7 pm (as well as by appointment). Additionally, we’re beginning to host events. Our first will be a pop-up shop on Sunday, March 22nd from 1–5 pm featuring the work of Hunter Gatherer, Damon Locks, Etta Kostick Jewelry, and Territory Design.
If you’re in Chicago, please stop in for a visit–we love for people to see where and how our clothing is made!
Process: Hand-Screen Printing Leather
Printed leather is the heart of the Production Mode 2015 collection, but the idea was a bit of a happy accident: Paula Wilson and I were discussing ideas for a custom screen print that she would design for the line, ostensibly on cloth. In one of our conversations, Paula said, “Maybe the base cloth should be hide-colored”. When she said the word “hide”, the lightbulb went on and all the sudden the direction of the collection was set.
She came up with a billion brilliant ideas, but eventually we settled on one that took into account the special challenges and opportunities of working with leather and screenprinting, an all-over print with no visible repeat that could be cut with minimal waste, using a single screen printed using two colors, offset so that the inaccuracies of hand-pulled screen prints would add, rather than subtract, to the finished product. The design embodied the goals of the Production Mode brand: to exploit the strengths of small-scale production, namely the ability to manufacture limited edition, handmade, high quality pieces nimbly, creatively, and ethically.
The next hurdle was to find someone willing and able to print 82 hides–enough to create a small run of garments and accessories. Paula connected me to Nora Renick-Rinehart, who jumped at the challenge of a project of this scale (very large for one person). Nora in turn added her expertise and magic to the print. She turned it into a seamless repeat, added some “noise” to the screen to create interesting variations and interplays of the two colors, and tested different inks, fixatives, curing, and setting methods.
In the video above Nora breaks down her printing process (all the while keeping up a brisk printing pace). Thanks to a lot of meticulous and tedious prep work (pinning down the hides, calculating the repeat, prepping and cleaning screens), she makes the process look fast and easy.
City of Chicago Passes Sweatfree Ordinance!
This Thursday, October 16, Chicago Fair Trade will celebrate the passage of the Sweatfree Ordinance!
The campaign is part of a larger campaign called Sweatfree Communities. It’s brilliant, and here’s why: it calls on municipalities, states, religious denominations, school districts–basically any large body–to use large-scale purchasing power to create a sea change in the garment industry.
Why is this important? As a small designer trying to manufacture ethically, all I can do is avoid sweatshops and support contractors and suppliers who are already manufacturing ethically. While doing so helps me to sleep better at night, I realize that on my own, I lack the financial leverage to pressure large contractors to pay cutters and stitchers fair wages and to make large scale changes in the garment industry. Likewise, as a consumer, I choose to avoid brands that use sweatshop labor and instead purchase clothing from ethical brands, or buy vintage/thrift items, or make my own clothing. But the loss of my disposable income alone is not enough to cause big brands like Walmart, Gap, etc, to monitor contractors and ensure that workers are paid a fair wage, that no child labor is employed, and that workers labor in a healthy and safe environment.
While I can’t stress enough the cumulative power of small, individual choices, I know that we can do even more to create change when we organize and work collectively. For example, our tax dollars fund multi-million dollar uniform contracts. We form our respective cities’ tax base, so we get a say in how that money is spent. And a multi-million dollar contract is quite a carrot. Now, thanks to the passage of the Sweatfree Ordinance, uniform vendors who have contracts with the City must comply with new rules in order to keep these lucrative contracts. First, they must agree to make their supply chains transparent. In the garment industry, where opacity and a race-to-the-bottom in terms of wages and labor rights is the norm, transparency is an enormous step! Once we know where our cities’ uniforms are made, we can draw on reports and investigations from the Workers’ Rights Consortium and the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. If contractors are found to be violating basic health, safety, or labor rights, then they are given a list of recommendations to correct any issues, and time to implement changes. If they choose to not comply, then they will lose these lucrative contracts.
Testifying in favor of the ordinance along with fellow Chicago Fair Trade member, Pushpika Freitas, Owner/Founder of Marketplace of India
We live in a globalized world where currently 98% of our garments are made abroad, often in abysmal conditions. To adapt to in this globalized world, we must continue to support globalized movements like Sweatfree Communites, like Fair Trade. These movements not only help to end entirely preventable tragedies like the Rana Plaza factory collapse, but also help to level the playing field for ethical business, and to raise the floor for all workers and their families, both at home and abroad.
So please, join CFT this Thursday to celebrate with fair trade wine, locally made beer, snacks, and the company of CFT’s visionary, inspiring members!