Meet the Winsome Goods Team: Part II

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Allison - Seamstress

Spirit Animal: For sure an otter. Because I went to art school and was told at several different weird parties that my spirt animal is an otter. I think it’s because they are resilient and adorable and like to hold hands. And are good swimmers. 

When You’re Not Working: I like to sew more. Which is crazy. I hang out with my dog and my boy. But yeah, wow, I’m always sewing. If I’m not sewing then I’m knitting and if I’m not knitting, I’m hand quilting and if not that, I’m weaving, crocheting or napping.

Hidden Talent: I played piccolo in marching band. When we were warming up I would play The Hustle on it to confuse people, because it was so high pitched that no one knew where the noise was coming from. 

Busting a Sustainability Myth: Recycling isn’t always what you think it is. A lot of the items you think you’re recycling are actually not recyclable or aren’t cleaned properly so they don’t clear the sorting process. Pizza boxes can’t be recycled! And even those snap containers for six packs aren’t either, so they end up getting thrown away. Recycling is good but reusing is even better! Try to reuse as much as possible. 

A Change You’d Like to See in the World: I want people to take the environment seriously, and take a lot of other things a little less seriously for little while. 

If You Had to Wear One Outfit for Forever: My favorite long, blush pink dress and my jean jacket. Oh, with my checkered Vans. 

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Marcia - Production Manager and Seamstress

When You’re Not Working: I have three kids, so I’m often doing something with them. I love to garden - I have a big vegetable garden that I like to tend to and I like landscaping, too. I do small landscaping projects in my city yard.

Currently Reading: Go Went Gone by Jenny Urpenbeck — my husband and I signed up for a book subscription service from Milkweed. There are a couple different subscriptions they have, so about every other month they send you a book in the mail and you can choose if you want to get a book from a small publishing house or from an editor’s pick. We have the editor’s pick subscription and it’s so nice!

Favorite Book: Beloved by Toni Morrison. It’s a really incredible book and the one that sits with me and I tell other people to read. 

Hidden Talent: I used to play the trombone. I had to quit, though, because something happened between my nose and mouth where I couldn’t funnel the air through my mouth anymore, it would just come out my nose! I could play for like 15 minutes and then I was done. I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t tell my band teacher, and I think she thought I quit because I didn’t like her anymore.

Sustainability Tip: Little decisions and actions are alright and a good place to start, but it’s important to understand the severity of the situation. And understand that a lot of our environmental issues come from big companies. 

On Spending the Summer in Guatemala: I really loved being in a place long enough to understand it outside of just traveler’s eyes. It was really great to feel like we weren’t just flitting in and around, but to grasp something about the place.

If You Had to Wear One Outfit for Forever: It would have to be something comfortable - probably a mumu with pockets. Or, elastic-waist pants with pockets and a really soft top. Then my size could change and it would be fine. It’s really all about comfort and having pockets. I would wear Blundstone Boots or go barefoot when it’s hot, if that’s allowed!

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Dana - Vintage Collective

On Starting Kollektiv: My friends Mady, Alissa and I all had a similar eye for style, loved thrifting and had pretty good luck at it. We decided to join forces and start a business inspired by our Swedish and Norwegian backgrounds (mine was my Grandma June).

Favorite Vintage Item: My vintage Wrangler denim jacket. I found it almost 10 years ago at an antique shop in Stillwater, MN. It's faded about 5 shades and I love it dearly.

Spirit Animal: Orca whale. They’re called the “wolves of the sea." I just think they're so majestic and I've been obsessed with them since I can remember. I’m also a huge Free Willy fan, obviously.

When You’re Not Working: You can find me drinking wine, eating pasta (Bar La Grassa is my favorite), hanging out at home with my two crazy rescue pups and girlfriend Bre and seeing live music. Also thrifting- I don't really consider it work, I just really enjoy it.

If You Had to Wear One Outfit for Forever: Honestly, either the Winsome Carmen or Covil dress. I travel quite a bit and bring them both everywhere I go. And my favorite ripped Rustler jeans underneath with an oversized super soft sweater, assuming I stay living in MN.

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Marianne - Seamstress

Hidden Talent: Other than visualizing potential in a home [Marianne is a realtor], I'm a pretty good artist. Mostly painting and drawing. I could whip out your portrait fairly quick, it's a party trick I do for my nieces and nephews.

Favorite Way to Express Yourself: Dancing and singing.

Desert Island Item: My dog, if that’s not cheating. She is always watching me and finding ways to partner up with me. She's amazingly good help and brings me all sorts of useful things that she finds. Like turkey eggs.

When You’re Not Working: I’m outside. Walking, hiking, swimming, gardening, or up in a tree.

If You Had to Wear One Outfit for Forever: I'd go full on Mime. Paint my face when I want to be silent, or if I ever get low on pocket money. The rest of the time I'd look French or like I just got off a sail boat.

Meet the Winsome Goods Team: Part I

From sustainability practices to spirit animals, karaoke songs to hidden talents, our team has a lot to share. In part one of this two-part blog, you’ll meet Kathryn, Bris, Sullivan and Bobbi - just half of the people behind the designs, events, social media and production of Winsome and Hazel + Rose.


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Kathryn - Founder and Designer

Hidden Talent: I legitimately know how to play the violin, but I was a drummer in an all girls punk rock band in high school.

Go-To Karaoke Song: Nothing Compares 2U by Sinéad O’Connor + Prince

Biggest Challenge + Biggest Reward of Owning Your Own Business? The biggest challenge by far is being responsible for and managing all of the many aspects of the business and being able to prioritize. There are many priorities at different times and sometimes these overlap. Its often challenging to decide what very important things are going be accomplished in any given day/week/year, and what need to be back-burnered. The biggest reward is creating a happy and healthy work environment. I always knew this was important to me, but I think in the last year or so this has been the biggest reward as well. We have a really wonderful team of people who have all contributed to making a very unique and positive space.

Are Aliens Real? I’ll give you another answer to that question. My favorite podcast this year has been The End Of The World with Josh Clark and he has some fascinating arguments regarding whether or not humans are the only life form out there.

Spirit Animal: I feel like I want to be something like a bison; admire me from afar but don’t touch me. I’m not extroverted but I do like a little attention.

Any Sustainability Myths (especially fashion related) You Can Bust? The myth that any purchase is or can be entirely sustainable. Everything has an impact. Organic cotton for example. It sounds fantastic, it doesn’t use any harmful pesticides that are problematic for the environment or the farmers. But it uses a f*ck ton of water, and depending on how you dice it, has a greater impact on our entire ecosystem than generic cotton.

If You Could Only Wear One Outfit for the Rest of Your Life: Since we live in Minnesota, I’m going to think about this like what I would wear if I’m flying on Sun Country [because you can’t bring a free carry on]. I would choose The Carmen, for sure. I would choose The Covill, too, but The Carmen is more season-less. I would wear a turtleneck underneath, that I could take off for summer, and traditional 501 Levi’s with ankle boots. Maybe I would start with everything in white so I could dye the pieces as time went along and as they got dirtier.

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Bris - Co-Designer and Seamstress

Hidden Talent: Sometimes I just eat an entire watermelon.

Outside of Winsome: I design for my own label, Yessenya. My label’s focus is to help people build relationships with the clothing they wear through its aesthetic value and construction. Everything is designed so that it can be worn in the long-term.

Describe Yessenya’s Style in 3 Words: Curious. Thoughtful. Free.

Favorite Reality TV Show: 90 Day Fiancé.

Thoughts On Sustainable Fashion: Sustainable fashion starts with what you already have. I think it’s important that you value the garments you own, whether or not they are from a sustainable brand, and appreciate what they do in your life. They serve a purpose, and we have to respect that every garment took a lot of resources to create. You can work towards sustainability one piece at a time, it doesn’t have to happen overnight.

If You Could Only Wear One Outfit for the Rest of Your Life: It would be some sort of jumpsuit that can transform into other things. In yellow, specifically sunflower yellow because it makes me happy. The sleeves can change from short sleeve to long sleeve, and it would have an easy go-to-the-bathroom function, like a butt-flap.

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Sully - Associate Brand Manager

Do You Believe in White After Labor Day? Yes. Fully. I love to wear all white outfits, I feel very cool when I do. Like a conceptual artist meditating in her studio.

How Have You Incorporated Sustainable Fashion Into Your Life? I really like to focus on the end of a garment’s life. I would echo what Bris said about respecting the wardrobe you have and building a more sustainable one slowly, that’s a great place to start. But what about the clothes we aren’t wearing anymore? Where are they going? For example, if I’ve worn through a white tee-shirt and it’s yellowed or nubby, that’s not something I would bag up and drop at a donation center because it’s going to get thrown away. So lately, I’ve been cutting up old tees and turning them into rags or dish towels. For clothes that are still in good condition or could be repaired, I take those opportunities to re-sell, donate or repurpose them. But all of this takes a level of awareness and thoughtfulness that takes work to practice - you have to sit down and make time to assess what you own and where it’s going to go. I know my heart was in the right place bagging old clothes up and donating, but I never thought about what happened to them after I dropped them off. My tip to anyone reading this is to make that time to be thoughtful about where your old clothes are going. Sort through them yourself and you’ll find that much less gets thrown away.

Spirit Animal: …Is obviously a dolphin and I’m very vocal about it.

One Thing You’d Bring With You to a Desert Island: How long am I on the island? (One year). Okay, then I would bring a dance instructor so I could have a year long dance intensive. It would be a real growth year for me.

If You Could Only Wear One Outfit for the Rest of Your Life: It would definitely be a cowgirl get-up, because then everything would be super worn in and utilitarian. I would wear very comfortable medium-wash jeans that fit like a body glove with brown cowgirl boots, a white button down, and then have a matching fringe leather jacket + chaps set that I could take on and off depending on the weather.

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Bobbi - Owner of Hazel + Rose

Do You Believe in White After Labor Day: Yes. I believe in anything at anytime.

If You Had to Change Your Career But Were Guaranteed Success: I would do something in psychology because I find it so incredibly interesting.

Micro Bangs or Bangs in Your Eyes For Your Whole Life? Micro bangs. I’ve done it before and I’m not scared.

What Do You Do Outside Hazel + Rose? Think about Hazel + Rose. Ha. I go to shows, we eat a lot, go to my parents cabin, snuggle with my two cats Bo and Lala. They were farm rescue cats.

If You Could Only Wear One Outfit for the Rest of Your Life: It would be an all knit outfit comprised of pants, a knit tank and a big, giant knit cardigan - all in beige-y, tan color. And I would wear a Martiniano glove shoe.

The Fabrics of Winsome Goods

A moment of self reflection: we use words like “ethical” and “sustainable” a lot. And while we use them sincerely, we want to be clear on exactly what we mean when we say our products are ethical and sustainable. With our recent launch of Winsome Zero (our post on that is below this one), we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on every kind of fabric we’ve used in the last year and a half; we’ve seen periwinkle silks, neon orange linens, and earthy wools come back as scraps that get transformed into entirely new creations. And as they’ve returned to us in new forms, we remember their humble arrivals into the Winsome studio as big rolls of fabric. So, why do we choose the fabrics we do? How do these raw materials fit into our mission of sustainability? Without further ado, we’d like to share a tale of the life of a Winsome fabric.

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It all begins at the dawn of each new Winsome collection; to bring sketches to life, we need fabric. And when we search for fabric, we search with three criteria in mind: hand feel + comfort, quality, and fabric composition. Here’s what that all means:

The hand feel of a fabric refers to how the fabric actually feels against skin. Is it soft? Does it give? Is it comfortable? Is it light? Is it heavy? The adjectives go on and on. But the heart of it is that we want to find a fabric we would want to wear on our bodies all the time, and for long periods of time. Itchy wools and too-tight denims aren’t making the cut.

When we talk about quality, yes, we are referring to how luxurious or special a fabric feels, but we really focus on the quality of the fabric as it has to do with holding up over time and its ease of care. High quality fabric should make us feel great and it should stay great for years to come.

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Finally, the big one - fabric composition: when buying new fabric (we’ll address dead stock fabric in a moment), we focus on procuring exclusively natural fabrics. Natural fabrics are made from textiles that occur naturally in the world - like cotton, wool, leather and even silk. We avoid synthetic fabrics - human-made fibers typically made from chemicals - for a number of reasons. The first is that natural fabrics are much easier to take care of than synthetic fabrics. That may come as a surprise - doesn’t silk need to be dry cleaned? And wool? Doesn’t that need to be dry cleaned, too? The answer is yes, many natural fabrics more often than not need to be dry cleaned. However, we pre-wash every Winsome garment to ensure ease of care for our customers. Many companies do not pre-wash their products to maintain that super crisp fabric quality on the rack and to avoid accounting for the shrinkage rate of pre-washed materials. We pre-wash at Winsome so that you don’t have to worry about dry cleaning or shrinkage. Plus, our pure, natural fabrics don’t need to be dry cleaned or treated with more chemicals. We find that when clothes need to be dry cleaned, they either never get worn or they stay dirty for very long periods of time, and we want things to be easy. Moreover, natural fabrics don’t need to be washed as much as many synthetics do because natural fibers don’t hold onto stench the way synthetic fibers do. To put it frankly: have you ever noticed that the armpits of your favorite poly-blend shirt always seem to smell? It’s not you, it’s the synthetics. Natural fabrics tend to have a lower environmental impact than synthetic fabrics because, among so many other things, you don’t have to wash them as frequently and when you do wash them, they release fewer harmful microfibers into our water streams. All fabrics release some microfibers when washed, that’s unavoidable (tip: you can use a laundry bag to help catch some!), but synthetic fabrics release microfibers into our water systems that never break down. Natural fibers break down faster and help to keep pollutants out of our water.

These three criteria help us to find the best new fabrics for Winsome Goods. However, we do use quite a bit of dead stock fabric as well. Dead stock fabric is kind of like second hand fabric. It’s not purchased new from textile companies and it’s not made specifically for a new order. Rather, dead stock fabric is available because it was made for something at some point in time, and went unused for one reason or another. Unused dead stock fabric could theoretically end up in landfills, so we love to make use of these fabrics that are already in the world before we go on to order and make new fabric.

We also really love the challenge of working with dead stock fabric. Because there’s only a limited quantity of it, and there’s no option to get more or have it made again, we have to work within the limits of that specific fabric. We can only design and produce goods from it once in its exact form—in a sense, it's like an ephemeral work of art. The perk of working with dead stock fabrics is that they are unique, peculiar, or otherwise hard to find. Plus, we can work with fabrics that would be far more expensive if they were purchased new - that’s how we get a lot of our super cozy wool knits.  

With all that fabric, we get to produce our garments. To do so, we cut into the fabric to create the shape of the garment and on goes the production process (read more about that in our last post about the Winsome Zero collection). Pieces of the fabric that remain after cutting are considered scrap fabric, and in most cases, that scrap fabric gets tossed. But, thanks to Winsome Zero, we keep our scraps and repurpose them into brand new products. Our Winsome Zero rugs are made up of a beautiful conglomerate of varied dead stock fabrics, made-to-order linens and silks, and so much more. To us, a sustainable and ethical fabric cycle is exactly this: one that takes into account everything that it takes to make a fabric, and one that utilizes the fabric to its highest purpose through and past the end of its life cycle. If you’re interested in learning more about our process, our fabrics, or sustainable shopping in general, don’t hesitate to reach out over email or direct message. We’d love to hear from you!

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Winsome ZERO: Our Mission for Zero Waste

As the title of this post may suggest, we are launching something brand new here at Winsome Goods and it is incredibly exciting. Next week, we will officially launch Winsome ZERO to the public, a product line made entirely from (what would have been) textile waste. This project marks another major step for us in creating an entirely sustainable brand; the launch of ZERO means that we have achieved a zero waste fabric system, 100% of the fabric we receive at the studio will be used in goods without any portion ending up as waste. Unlike Winsome products you may know and love already, these new products cannot be worn as clothes. You’ll have to keep reading for the grand reveal.

When we founded Winsome Goods in 2014, we did so with the commitment to always prioritize sustainable and ethical practices. Every year since, we find new ways to stay true to our mission and develop it even more. Winsome ZERO was fueled by the desire to move closer to a zero waste, closed loop system for everything that we produce. A closed loop system is, in short, the practice of manufacturing products that are created from renewable resources and/or existing materials that can then be completely reused and repurposed at the end of their life cycles. A full closed loop system takes into account every detail of production, like what kind of energy powers the tools we use to create products. So while we figure out how to power our sewing machines without an electrical socket, we are incredibly proud to say that Winsome ZERO is all about zero fabric waste products.

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So where do all the scraps/would-be-waste come from? We knew we were creating textile waste in production, and became much more aware of just how much waste we had when we started saving it during production of our Spring 2018 line. Unless we are working with zero waste patterns (which are typically one-size-fits-all garments with relaxed, but limited, silhouettes), there are cutaway scraps in all clothing production. Before a garment ever becomes the beautiful thing that you see hanging on a rack, it has produced fabric waste. Once patterns for a garment are cut, the scraps left over are traditionally discarded. Sometimes, the cost of a garment is not only driven by the fabric it uses, but also by the fabric is wastes. 

When we make a garment, we lay patterns (essentially the outline of the garment) out on fabric yardage and cut around them in the least wasteful way possible. Metaphor time: think of cookie dough rolled out flat - if you place cookie cutters far apart from each other or don’t use the dough-space wisely, you get a lot of wasted cookie dough that you can’t make into a shapely cookie in the end. We don’t want to do that with our fabric because then we would make more fabric waste than necessary. Any waste we have we save in big buckets so that we can reuse and repurpose them in the future, and that’s what our ZERO products are made of.

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But wait, there’s more. In addition to cut-away scraps there are other kinds of textile waste created in the studio: test garments that didn’t work out, defective fabric that cannot be used, and garments that are accidentally damaged in production are all considered production waste. All of this material that would otherwise be thrown away is included in our new product, too.

When we had accumulated all that textile waste, we wanted to find a solution for how to use it. We partnered with design educator Lindsey Strange and her students at the University of Minnesota Apparel Design program. Students were given the task of researching and developing solutions for repurposing or recycling all of our scrap. They were given several parameters in which to work, such as: using as wide of a variety of scrap as possible, finding a cost effective model, and ensuring the product felt appropriate for Winsome as a brand. What Strange’s students came up with is the heart of Winsome ZERO—this fascinating craft method of making one-of-a-kind rugs from a vast array of textile waste.

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Our method of producing these rugs is non-toxic and able to incorporate all sizes and shapes of scraps, leaving zero waste behind. The process demands a great amount of manual labor, which means that this project provides more hours of well-paid work for our small team of employees. 

Over the course of the last year we have been experimenting, refining and developing this method. We’ve been practicing with styles, colors, shapes, patterns and uses. We’ve been figuring out what works and what doesn’t, what’s beautiful and what is useful. Now, we are finally ready to launch Winsome ZERO.

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For this first launch, we have six, one-of-a-kind styles available for your enjoyment. Both Welcome Mats and Area Rugs are available in three colors—blues, oranges, and mixed blue/orange. Welcome Mats measure 3 feet in width by 2 feet in height and save approximately 2 pounds of fabric scrap each. Mats retail for $190, which includes shipping.

Area Rugs measure 7 feet in width by 5 feet in height and save 11-14 pounds of fabric scrap each. Rugs retail for $1100, which includes shipping. A photo of our Blues area rug is featured below.

All Winsome ZERO products will be available to the public on June 18th. We will be celebrating that night with a Happy Hour from 5-8pm in our studio in Northeast Minneapolis - please come join us! There will be a pre-sale for long-time Winsome customers on June 15th. If you have known and loved us and want to shop the pre-sale, please email us at info@winsomegoods.com and we will send you the online code.

Thank you for being on this journey with us. We couldn’t do this without you. More to come, so stay tuned.

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Sustainable and Ethical Fashion: What does it mean?

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be able to take part in The Collective speaker series organized by LAB MPLS which occurs annually here in Minneapolis. I spoke about the benefits and drawbacks of current sustainable and ethical fashion options and why we do not have any 100% sustainable choices in the garment industry. I wanted to share all that information and be able to elaborate on a few of the topics as well as offer suggestions on how we can move forward with the knowledge and resources available.

Photo taken by Anna Lee

Photo taken by Anna Lee

What is it?

What is sustainable fashion vs. ethical fashion? How are they different?

Sustainable fashion refers to the fabric, processes and quality (among so many other things) that contribute to less of an environmental impact. Ethical fashion, also known as social fashion is most often about the producers and their fair and safe working environments, living wages and more that contribute to enhancing quality of life. Ethical fashion can also refer to a company’s overall focus and mission in relation to how they give back to the world and community they operate in. Our dedication to discovering and supporting the businesses that strive for either of these operatives are what we call “Conscious Consumerism”.

Within Sustainable and Ethical fashion, there are many ways that clothing can be labeled Sustainable or Ethical. Examples include: Organic, GOT certified, reused, recycled (either fiber or garment form), deadstock, natural fabrics, long lasting design, quality, transparent production, etc. Then there are things that don’t necessarily fall into either the sustainable or ethical category but we still associate with positive purchasing and conscious consumerism. These are things like made in the USA, shop small, shop local and independent design.

But what do all of these subcategories mean? What are natural fabrics and what are their benefits and drawbacks? Bellow are several of the most common sustainable and ethical garment categories along with a brief explanation of their contribution and shortcomings to our closed loop initiatives.

NATURAL FABRIC

What is it?: Natural fabrics are textiles who’s fibers are made from organic (living) material. Examples of this are cottons, linens, silks, wools, bamboo, and more.

Pros: These are naturally replenishing materials that break down easily once discarded. Depending on the fiber they can be durable, soft, breathable, moisture wicking and overall very comfortable.

Cons: Many natural fabrics require a massive amount of water to sustain crops. Cotton, for example, requires 2,400 liters in order to produce a single t-shirt. Additionally, there is often the use of pesticides and chemicals in growing and production.

Other Facts: Bamboo specifically is one of the most economical and sustainable crops, it is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, requiring very small amounts of water and releases 35% more oxygen into the air than hardwoods. But bamboo actually requires an unbelievable amount of energy and chemicals to process into wearable fibers. The process of turning the plant into the fabric is actually the exact same process as creating rayon, which uses petroleum, a non-renewable, toxic substance.

ORGANIC FABRIC

What is it?: These are natural fabrics made without the use of chemicals, pesticides or harmful dyes.

Pros: Not using toxic and harmful chemicals in production can not only be good for the environment, but good for all workers involved in the manufacturing process.

Cons: Requires far more water and land to produce the same yields as conventional fibers. Arguably, organic cotton uses more resources and can be overall more harmful to the environment than conventional cotton.

RECYCLED FABRIC:

What is it? This is any fabric made from breaking down existing product or materials and may be one of the most promising paths forward for sustainable textiles. The most popular example of this is fabric made from used water bottles. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be synthetic. There are also recycled natural fabrics such as cotton and wool.

Pros: Fabrics uses existing material are a solution for items that would otherwise be waste or pollution. If this process were perfect, it could theoretically create a closed loop process of turning waste back into usable products.

Cons: The technology for recycled fabrics is still quite poor. Fibers such as cotton and wools are broken and damaged in the aggressive recycling process which creates a lower quality finished product, both in appearance and durability. Think about a typical cotton fiber. It is 2.5” is length and then twisted together to make a yarn. which is then woven and knitted to create a fabric. When this fiber is recycled, the fabric is broken down, breaking most of those cotton fibers, which are then twisted back together to make a new yarn. But the shorter fibers don’t hold together as easily, and are often a lot more rough in hand feel. Many companies, are working toward incorporating recycled fabrics into their designs. However, they are fairly limited because these fabrics do not past durability testing. As an example recycled cotton fibers must be mixed with 80% non-recycled fibers in order to pass some industry standard quality tests.

Other Info: Even with these downsides, this is one of the more promising paths to sustainable fabric as this technology improves. Some companies are even pursuing ownership of the fibers in garments even after the product has been purchased by the consumer. The reason being, once the garment has reached the end of it’s lifecycle, it must be returned to the same company, taken apart and made into something entirely new.

SECOND HAND

What is it?: Any garment that has been previously purchased or owned and then discarded, donated or sold.

Pros: This is a great option for many consumers, maybe even the most sustainable and ethical when looking at a single garment. We are purchasing garments that have already been made. The carbon footprint of any garment purchased second hand is small and limited only to that in transportation, cleaning and packaging.

Cons: In order to maintain a supply chain, quality and durable clothing will still need to produced in order to sustain a resale market. Every garment has a lifespan, and none of the garments that currently exist are going to last forever, especially if they are getting used. Also, donation practices are still very imperfect. Somewhat thanks to fast fashion and low quality garments, small percentages of garments donated make it to new homes. Many textile products donated are destroyed or shipped back overseas, wasting fuel in transportation and ultimately polluting the environments of some of the most needy. Our resale market is often skimming the good product off the top, while continuing to leave a lot of waste behind that must be dealt with.

CLOTHING RENTAL MARKET:

What is it?: This is a relatively new option derived from the shared market place similar to Airbnb or Uber. It’s the idea that clothing can simply be rented instead of owned.

Pros: You don’t actually need to own many of your clothing items, or at least the type of garments you wouldn’t wear very often (ex. formal wear). This can save money and stress. Garments that may get used one time in your own closet, can be rented at a fraction of the price of purchasing and can be sent back to a company in order to be cleaned and worn again by another individual.

Cons: This too is quite imperfect. MOST of the garment rental companies own the product that is available for rent. Meaning, we haven’t necessarily solved the problem of unworn garments. These company’s’ closets end up being an inflated version of our own, where some items are in continual rotation, while others sit and wait and often never get any use. While it still saves your wallet, it hasn’t entirely solved the problem of unworn garments, it’s just hidden it.

SHOP SMALL:

What is it?: Small scale businesses which can be somewhat ambiguous, but often means privately and independently owned.

Pros: Your individual purchases make a more significant impact for a single business. You may have already heard or seen this saying: Every time you purchase a garment from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance. Also, It may be much easier to inquire as to business practices and sources, by talking to owners directly;

Cons: Shop small doesn’t always mean sustainable or ethical. It is still necessary to determine whether best practices are being used.


SHOP LOCAL/USA MADE:

What is it? Any item that is being sold and/or has been manufactured in your community and/or the United States.

Pros: More of the money you spend stays in your own community. Sales tax contribute directly to your own streets, schools, parks and government facilities. Employees paid are likely from your own community as well, meaning you are helping support your neighbors. Also, the cost and footprint of transportation from business to your home is drastically reduced, lowering the overall carbon footprint. And, when considering USA made, it is more likely garments are being produced under the strict USA codes for health and safety, and legal minimum wages.

Cons: Similar to shop small, this doesn’t automatically mean that the businesses use ethical or sustainable practices. And, it’s hard for us to remember in a city like Minneapolis but many sustainable or ethical options are not often local for many people.

SOCIALLY FOCUSED:

What is it?: Companies that have a specific, stated and practiced social effort.

Pros: You know that the company is supporting a cause and you know what that cause is, which helps you to have a better understanding of where your money is going.

Cons: Not necessarily sustainably focused. Many of these companies are still international, contributing to waste in packaging and transportation.

What Now?

Having the knowledge of what all of these things mean, how do we even begin to make our decisions?

As a business owner, sustainability advocate and fellow consumer, these are my personal suggestions and beliefs: Let’s do the best we can.

Let’s consider the entire system, not just the garment itself. Where did it come from? How long will it be used? How we will ultimately dispose of it? Where will it go? What will it become? Does it still have value? Ultimate sustainability will be the result of a closed loop system. We can strive to extend the lifespan of the things we own and close that gap to the best of our ability.

Let’s consider that significant and meaningful improvement and change in the fashion industry is going to be an evolution. While many of us can stand to own less, our answers are likely not as easy or simple as not buying things. We live in a society that depends on our economy and we are all connected. Instead of just throwing on the breaks, let’s consider advancement and how we can all contribute to steering that advancement in the direction of sustainability and better quality of life for all.

Let’s support the businesses doing the most good. If a company is doing the absolute best they can now, with the resources and technology available, it is likely they will keep doing the best they can as their resources expand and technology improves.

Let’s advocate for change outside of the clothing industry. Renewable energy and manufacturing regulations impact our industry and are necessary for a sustainable future. Learn, vote, advocate and educate.

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If you are interested in learning more or would like to get more involved, here are helpful resources:

Fashion Revolution

The True Cost

Green America

Responsibility in Fashion

Know the Chain

What is your Conscious Shopper Type?

Are you ethically minded? Is your priority sustainability? Take the quiz below for your conscious shopper “personality type”

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Views from a Winsome Intern: Warda Moosa

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Hi there! I am Warda Moosa, a junior in the Apparel design program at the University of Minnesota. This fall semester I had the pleasure of interning with Winsome Goods. Before starting the internship, I set some learning goals for myself to have a better understanding of what I want to achieve while I am there. I had a clear goal of learning how the creative design works at Winsome and what differentiates it from what we do in our classes. I also wanted to learn and understand the business side of their brand. This is one of the reasons I chose to intern at Winsome, because I knew the brand is still small and that they produce everything in-house. As someone who is interested in owning their own business only day this was quite important for me. These past four months have been quite amazing I had the opportunity to learn so much and understand how the design brands work in the real world. This internship also has enabled me to have a greater amount of respect for brands that produce their products in-house as it isn’t an easy task. My capstone project I chose to end my internship with was to research sustainability & Winsome. This project has given me the ability to critically think about sustainability and the role it plays in our community. I wanted to focus on community here, because often sustainability is talked about in the global perspective and some people think it’s a global issue, hence it doesn’t necessary affect a Minnesota resident which is true but in the longer run it can.

Winsome Goods Storefront

Winsome Goods Storefront

If you’ve been hearing about deadstock fabric before but you didn’t know what it means or have never heard it before then this post should clear your confusion. Deadstock is fabric that goes unused by the mill or brand that has fabricated it. Either due to incorrect color that was obtained or due to over production. So, what’s so great about this fabric you may ask? Well, deadstock fabric is often kept out of landfill they would have otherwise ended up at by selling it to designers or fabric stores at discounted rates. Drawbacks? The biggest reason deadstock isn’t quite popular among designers and international brands is scalability. It’s very difficult to scale-up with deadstock fabrics because they are available in very limited quantities.

Fabric at the Winsome Goods Studio

Fabric at the Winsome Goods Studio

Fashion revolution is a non-profit that has been one of the many organizations that have formed due to the catastrophic incident that happened five years ago; Rana Plaza. Five years ago, an eight-story building collapsed in Bangladesh which trapped and killed over 1100 people employed by the garment industry. In the face of this calamitous event formed Fashion Revolution. Their mission is to unite people and organizations to work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Fashion Revolution's Head of Policy, Sarah Ditty to talk about sustainability and where Fashion Revolution is headed to.

Warda Moosa: What are some of Fashion revolutions biggest achievements to date?
Sarah Ditty: Before we formed there were a handful of companies that disclosed where their clothes are manufactured. Now there is over 100 companies that disclose this information to the public. This is an important point because when they publish this information online NGO’s can go and investigate the places they manufacture to ensure correct laws and regulations are followed. We also managed to create the global movement that has sparkled from consumers to retailers to manufactures to designers on #WhoMadeMyClothes. Last year over 2.5 million worldwide were talking about this topic one way or the other be it by starting conservation's in social media, or attending events hosted by us. 

Kathryn (founder) and Marcia (production manager) of Winsome Goods

Kathryn (founder) and Marcia (production manager) of Winsome Goods

WM: Do you think sustainability which a big trend is currently will die soon and make a comeback just like other trends. Or is it here to stay?

SD: No, sustainability is here to stay. Climate change is only accelerating and becoming more visible. We all must come together to work more towards sustainability.

WM: What can we expect from Fashion Revolution in the next coming two years?
SD: We will be publishing the fourth edition annual index magazine which comes out every April. We will be reviewing and ranking 250 apparel brands according to how much information they have disclosed about their social environmental policies and impacts. We will be publishing the white paper which is essentially a review of where the industry has come in the last five years and setting the course for fashion revolution's activities for the next five years. We will be producing a free course on the United Nations sustainable goals. Finally, we’ll be speaking to several experts on environmental sustainability.

Knit top from the Winsome Goods Spring/Summer 2015 collection made from deadstock fabric.

Knit top from the Winsome Goods Spring/Summer 2015 collection made from deadstock fabric.

You must be wondering by now how this translates to Winsome? Winsome Goods in the early days used to utilize deadstock fabrics, but after growing the brand couldn’t scale-up with deadstock fabrics as they are available in limited quantities. Kathryn, the designer for the brand wanted to know how they brand could potentially start utilizing deadstock again. After my research, I discovered deadstock is truly only one way for brands to pursue sustainability but there are plenty of avenues to pursue sustainability. Winsome can continue utilizing deadstock fabric occasionally in their collections by creating one to two exclusives pieces within the collection that uses completely deadstock, and they can also create one exclusive piece for each season. Like I mentioned above deadstock is only one way to pursue sustainability. There are other sustainable fabrics out there that can be scaled up with like recycled polyester, vegan fabrics like linen, tencel and hemp. There is also innovation happening with-in fabrics. Recently, the leaves of the pineapple plant have recently become one of the most sustainable vegan leather alternatives on the market (goodonyou.eco).

While talking to Sarah Ditty of Fashion Revolution she mentioned an important part about brands being sustainable and that’s sharing their journey with their consumers. I recently, did a research paper on sustainable practices and found out that while there are plenty of sustainable practices out there for consumers and retailers there is a huge lack of awareness in our community. Local brands can start by hosting open studios for consumers to understand the behind the scenes of the garment manufacturing process, partner up with other local brands and host talks about sustainability and the importance it has in our community. The journey towards a better and more sustainable world is long, but we all must commit to it and help one another.

Winsome Workshops

WORKSHOPS

The level at which I am excited to launch our Workshops is comparable with excitement I felt when buying a house, taking a month long vacation, and adopting a puppy. It’s something that just feels right.. I said it to my team and I’ll say it here, I feel like I’ve found my calling.

Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve been exploring workshops through many avenues, all over the US, initially partnering with a dear friend Emily of Abraham Label to create a workshop on Sustainable and Ethical Fashion. Workshops have ranged from all-day events to hour long presentations. I’ve learned so much through these experiences, particularly about what gets people interested, how long the attention span is and how to best communicate skills and knowledge. However, I always felt limited in the tools and resources I was able to bring with me. Clothing design and production is very tool oriented. There is a specialize machine or tool for almost every task you can think of. Which is why I’m excited to finally bring workshops in-house, where I’ll not only be able to cover broader topics, but will be able to get more technical and specialized working with all of the tools and machinery at our disposal.

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The purpose of these workshops is to to provide a casual, friendly environment to try a new skill or further your existing knowledge of the clothing, creative and manufacturing industries. I want to offer something for the slightly interested as well as the always-learning professional. These workshops are created to be a place to revive this dying art of sewing and clothing production with a modern and sustainable approach.

We launch today with five courses: Intro to Sewing, How to Sew the Marcel Tank, Alterations and Repairs, How to Repurpose Fabric Scraps, and Seams, Hems and Finishes. More Workshops to come including but not limited to, How to Shop Vintage, and more experienced level workshop, Pattern Making. All materials are provided in each class and are included in the class fee. Read about each workshop bellow and follow the links to see available workshop dates and times. I sincerely hope to see you at a Winsome Workshop soon.

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INTRO TO SEWING

This is a beginner level course designed for anyone curious in taking the first step in sewing. Do you like the idea of hemming your own dresses but don’t know what bobbin thread is? Do you own a sewing machine but have never threaded it?

In this class we will gingerly cover the very basics of sewing with a home sewing machine. We will learn about the commonly used components of the machine, its stitch functions and the beginning applications of sewing fabric. At the end of the class you will know how to set up your machine, dial in your settings and sew simple stitches.

This is a 6 hour course // $100 // Taught by Winsome Founder, Kathryn Sterner.

HOW TO SEW THE MARCELL TANK

This is a moderate level course designed for anyone interested in learning the construction of this classic Winsome garment. To get the most out of this class, it’s recommended that you have a working understanding of the home sewing machine (sign up for the Intro to the Home Sewing Machine Class, if you need this background).

In this class we will walk step-by-step through the process of sewing the Marcell tank start to finish. Create a garment for yourself or someone else, you can select from sizes XS-XXXL in colors ivory or black. At the end of this course you will have the basic understanding of the anatomy of the Marcell tank, construction techniques to apply to other projects (seam finishes, binding, rolled hem),  and a garment of your own to keep.

This is a 3 hour course // $100 // Taught by Winsome Founder, Kathryn Sterner.

ALTERATIONS AND REPAIRS

This is a beginner to moderate level course designed for anyone interested in altering, tailoring or repairing their own clothing. To get the most out of this class, it’s recommended that you have a basic understanding of the home sewing machine (sign up for the Intro to the Home Sewing Machine Class, if you need this background)

In this class we will walk though some of the most common clothing alterations and learn the skills to modify or repair your own clothing. These skills can help you adjust or repair the clothing you already own, and provide you with the freedom to better shop vintage, thrift or second hand. At the end of this course you will compile all of your repair examples into a take-home book to use as reference for future projects.

This is a 6 hour course // $100 // Taught by Winsome Founder, Kathryn Sterner and Apparel Design Educator, Lindsey Strange

HOW TO REPURPOSE TEXTILE SCRAPS

This is a class for all, no experience necessary, all levels of experience welcome. Spend a casual, fun eventing in the Winsome studio learning how to repurpose textiles scraps to create new fabric. At the end of this course you will have the skills to make new items from used textiles around your home as well as a fabric scrap card holder to keep.

This is a 3 hour course // $60 // Taught by Winsome Founder, Kathryn Sterner.

SEAMS, HEMS AND FINISHES

This is a moderate level course designed for those who’d like to further their sewing skills. There are so many possibilities for making the inside of a garment just as beautiful as the outside, even when a serger is not available. In this class we will explore the many possibilities of finishing seams, hems and openings.  We’ll practice these techniques, as well as discuss the appropriate uses and applications for each method.. At the end of this course you will compile all of these examples into a take-home book to use as reference for future projects.

his is a 6 hour course // $100 // Taught by Winsome Founder, Kathryn Sterner.

Winsome Fall/Winter 2018 + Illustration Project

The Adelaide top, Photographed by Colin Simmons

The Adelaide top, Photographed by Colin Simmons

Here it is: the twice yearly collection release. Fall/Winter 2018 in all of its wool, cotton and silk glory. This collection has enough pockets to negate a purse and so many ways to wear that I may just take a break from my regular closet and see if it is just possible to survive off of these few items alone.

The Nina Top, Photographed by Colin Simmons

The Nina Top, Photographed by Colin Simmons

Like each Winsome collection, these styles are rooted in traditional silhouettes while stretching expected boundaries in the sometimes not-so-subtle details. This collection drew heavily from vintage clothing and patterning books. I became particular fascinated with a 1950's wedding dress design book and some details are explicitly pulled from this source (the Adelaide sleeve for instance). 

The less sophisticated inspiration came from my decreasing desire to often carry a purse or bag. The result: more pockets and variety in pockets. Some of these styles take advantage of the unused real estate on the back of the garment (take a look at the Leon and the Ines). 

The Leon Jacket, photographed by Colin Simmons

The Leon Jacket, photographed by Colin Simmons

But in addition to these 14 cozy styles, we at Winsome decided to approach the launch of the collection a little differently. We tasked four illustrators: Natalie Johnson, Nori Norbhu, Holly Stapleton, and Kate Worum, with illustrating pieces from our collection, each in their own style, each worn by their vision of an influential female. 

The Nina top Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Natalie Johnson

The Nina top Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Natalie Johnson

I knew this illustration project was going to be exciting and inspiring, but I was surprised by how personally motivating it was.

I'm a creative, and like many creatives it's often difficult to relinquish the creative control over a design or artwork.  It's challenging to not infuse your own ideas or aesthetics in order to tailor the product into your personal, ideal vision.

This project requited a new level of trust that I have not been forced to have in previous work, trust in our artists, trust in my team, and trust in the complicated and unique artistic process. Moreover, as a professional female, I sometimes find myself torn and confused over how often I should have all the answers. Because we are in a time where we are fighting to play one the same field, fighting to be heard, fighting for our freedom to feel less apologetic. So when I don’t have the answers I find myself somewhat afraid. Not afraid to voice the knowledge and ideas that I have, but instead I am afraid of not having the knowledge or ideas to begin with. I’m afraid that not having that somehow voids my seat at the table or participation in this important battle of equality. 

And this season, there were moments that I just didn’t have it.  I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the energy, I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have all the ideas. And I’m slowly learning that there is no better time than these times to lean on, and put trust in, others.

The Edith top Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Holly Stapleton

The Edith top Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Holly Stapleton

This project help reiterate why outside perspective is so important and that it can be incredibly inspiring to reach outside our comfort zone. Through illustration instead of photography alone we were able to see how others envision our collection. If location and physical realities were no boundary, what do people imagine? Who is wearing our clothing? What does a collaboration look like when it’s not actively curated? Instead of searching for similar aesthetics, we found a diverse range of female illustrators to depict our garments in anyway they wished.

And WOW, I’m so glad.

The Marion Pullover Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Nori Norbhu

The Marion Pullover Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Nori Norbhu

Prints of these illustrations are available for sale here. 

100% of profits from these prints are donated to the Emergency Migrant Fund located here in Minneapolis. This fund is particularly important to us as it is currently helping one of our own, Marcia, our production manager. Marcia, and her family recently took in a family who escaped gang violence in Honduras, and this Emergency Migrant fund is supporting her family and situation. This fund helps them, as well as future families providing for refugee families, get back on their feet and start a new and safe life here in the United States by supplying them groceries, school supplies, clothing, and many other important necessities, as they came here with nothing. A full article about this story is posted here

The Ines Jacket/Dress Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Kate Worum

The Ines Jacket/Dress Photographed by Colin Simmons, Illustrated by Kate Worum

WIN X WEL Collaboration

Photo by Erin Pederson

Photo by Erin Pederson

When your talented, successful, beautiful friend comes to you and says "let's collaborate", the obvious answer is "yes" and the most logical thing to do is to get started right away and do everything in your power to make it happen. OR if you are ME, what you do instead is to freak out a little, let the weight of life's problems get you down and work yourself into an anxiety induced frenzy until it's a f*cking miracle that your talented, successful, beautiful friend of yours still wants to work with you. 

The Cella Top and Ida Pant captured by Erin Pederson

The Cella Top and Ida Pant captured by Erin Pederson

Luckily Madelynn Furlong was that friend that stuck through until the very end, helping to create, and honestly being the backbone necessary for this beautiful collection that needed to come to life.

The Iris Dress captured by Erin Pederson

The Iris Dress captured by Erin Pederson

Originally inspired by the powerful Georgia O'Keeffe, this collection got it's start from the immaculate taste and androgynous style of the remarkable artist. We wanted to focus on the vintage shapes and curious details of the artist's personal wardrobe, while incorporating the necessary versatility and utilitarian structure that remains so important in modern style. 

The Jimson top captured by Erin Pederson

The Jimson top captured by Erin Pederson

But of course, as nothing ever goes to plan, what we thought would be a few evenings of sketching bliss with a bit of wine turned into 1 year, 3 moves, 2 states, working long distance and much, much wine.

As our unique and true process took form, so did the collection. We had time to reflect and refine. We grew a little as individuals and so did our ideas. Our original inspiration budded into a thoughtful, intentional collection, melding the styles of both of our personalities. We found ways to play on each other's strengths.

The Eliot Set captured by Erin Pederson

The Eliot Set captured by Erin Pederson

This true experience culminated into this special, compact collection of 5 pieces. All made from either silk or cotton, each item features buttons, pleats, tucks, pockets and many hidden details that make each garment an experience to own and wear. 

Every garment is made-to-order. Find more information on each piece and shop the collection HERE.

The Cella Top captured by Erin Pederson

The Cella Top captured by Erin Pederson

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Find more information on each piece and shop the collection HERE.