Blog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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:

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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. 

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Next up, we’ll be partic­i­pat­ing in our first Dose MarketSunday, 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!

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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.

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Along with our two lines, we’ll also be show­cas­ing the lovely fused glass and molten metal works of Etta Kostick Jewelry.

10995472_10153200270274026_3108588723678481444_n   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.  Picture-31Damon 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.

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Lastly, Hvnter Gvtherer will show their beau­ti­ful metal­works, informed by both ancient ideas and elegant mini­mal­ism. IMG_1041

Hvnter Gvtherer

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!

 

 

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Chicago Magazine Feature

 

 

Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 11.10.02 PMChicago Maga­zine just published a great arti­cle about the ethos behind Depart­ment of Curiosi­ties, the boutique/production space shared by Produc­tion Mode and Morua.

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.

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If you’re in Chicago, please stop in for a visit–we love for people to see where and how our cloth­ing is made!

 

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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.

Paula then designed and printed an initial sample run of leather as part of her resi­dency at Cannon­ball Miami, using the facil­i­ties of Turn Based Press.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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City of Chicago Passes Sweatfree Ordinance!

This Thurs­day, Octo­ber 16, Chicago Fair Trade will cele­brate the passage of the Sweat­free Ordi­nance!

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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.

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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!

 

 

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