Shin + Na

Kuna Adele Baby Alpaca Sweater, Lloyd Linen Pant in Black, Shin + Na Grand Day Tote in Natural

MY STORY: I always feel the need to be blatantly honest so as the year is coming to a close, I want to share that I’ve decided not to complete my fashion design program. It is a 2 year program and I have now completed a year and a half. A few weeks ago, I was still deciding whether I should complete it for the certificate or go on to create my own project with the knowledge I’ve acquired.

There were many factors that lead me to my decision to leave school. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t feel the need to put myself through the last and most intense semester, because I attended to learn all that I already had. Of course I would still improving my skills, but the last semester would more likely consist of pumping out garments weekly rather than learning-based projects. In addition to that, I feel burned out by the early and numerous hours I’ve put into projects. Don’t get me wrong, I truly still enjoy making garments. I just enjoy making ones that are my style and without rigid rules on various elements my garment requires.

Another factor was my experience in my previous work place. It really put a damper on my view of the fashion industry. I know I cannot take that experience and place them on all fashion companies but at this point, I feel a bit disappointed in the realities of this industry. I feel that I need time to digest all that I’ve gone through and will update you when I come to my decision. I want to take this time to thank you for following my journey whether it was when I just started studying fashion design or more recently. I am grateful for your continued support :)

SHIN + NA'S STORY: Haeshin and Hanna are the founders of Shin + Na, which offers elegant yet functional everyday pieces. It all started when they met in sophomore year of high school and bonded over their mutual love for timeless fashion. After high school, they went their separate ways. Haeshin studied graphic and interior design, where she challenged herself with merging branding, style, and functionality. Hanna went on to study fashion in Tokyo, Japan where she was immersed in the beauty of Japanese culture, landscape, and design. Reconnected at a wedding, Haeshin and Hanna came to realize that they shared a desire to create simple everyday pieces. Over the next few years, they worked on developing Shin + Na, and eventually launched in 2017.

Silly Boy Studio

Silly Boy Studio Top, Vintage Pleated Skirt

MY STORY: I was recently talking to my friend Tiff and we landed on the topic of how to tell whether a garment is made well or not. Initially I was a bit overwhelmed because there is a lot that goes into a high quality garment. There are a few areas that need explanation, which is why I decided divide the information into sections to make it easier to take in. From studying fashion design in school to my work experiences within the industry, I have learned and want to share 3 ways to determine whether a garment is high quality and made to last, or not.

1. Stitch Length. 

In school, we learned about 'stitches per inch' or SPI, which is the number of stitches in the length of an inch. A garment that is made well will have between 10-12 SPI. In couture garments, there will be more SPI and in fast fashion there will be less. The more SPI, the stronger the seam will be and vice versa. When stitches are long and few, which is commonly found in fast fashion, it is easy for the thread to break causing the garment to fall apart.

A garment with 10 SPI takes longer to sew because there are more stitches to be made compared to a seam with 8 SPI. In the long run, the time used to sew more stitches adds up causing the cost of the garment, due to labor, to increase. This is a large reason for the pricing and quality of fast fashion items. They are made with fewer SPI and in a shorter amount of time, which costs less and lowers the quality of the garment.

2. Fabric.

There are fabrics that last longer than others. I came to learn more about durability of fabrics truly by wearing and testing different ones. For more information about lasting and sustainable fabrics, I created a list here.

On another note, care for garments is very important in extending its life in your closet. I learned in school that the more times a garment is washed, the quicker it deteriorates. The lint that culminates in the dryer is actually part of your clothes. You can see how the cycle of washing and drying can weaken the fabric of your garment. After learning this, I have tried to wear my clothes a few times before washing them because they really don't need to be washed that often if it's not soiled. 

3. Finishings.

There are many types of finishings but a common one to clean raw edges is overlock. Overlock is not necessary bad - it does the job to prevent the fabric edges from fraying. From an alternative perspective, overlock can be seen as a cheap method since the process is quick and the end result doesn't look very nice. This goes back to the discussion about rapid sewing times leading to lower costs. 

Besides overlocking, seams can be clean finished. This means that the raw edges are tucked into the seam and sewn down so that the inside of the garment doesn't have overlocking or raw edges. This is generally a more expensive method as it requires another row of stitches and takes longer than overlocking. 

To close off this conversation, I want to share that I do inspect garments when I go to stores to see how well they are made. It is an important aspect to slow fashion and the longevity of a garment. Prior to entering the fashion industry, I wasn't knowledgable about these details, which is why I felt it was important to share this information to assist you further along your slow fashion journey. I would love to hear if you found this helpful and whether you will be looking into your garments before purchasing them.

SILLY BOY STUDIO'S STORY: Nina Woolfe is the founder of Silly Boy Studio, a women's clothing line based in Paris. She loves searching for the perfect vintage piece and has nomadic tendencies switching between Paris, where she was born, and London, where she grew up. After working in high street and luxury fashion houses, Nina wanted to create beautiful garments with her own ethos, away from fast fashion. Her take on sustainable fashion includes sourcing deadstock fabrics locally, not creating excess inventory, and designing timeless pieces with a story to be appreciated for years to come. Through Silly Boy Studio, Nina focuses on creating versatile pieces that can be worn in many different outfits. Her goal is to create variety and options for ethically made clothing.


Umber & Ochre Unisex Woven Tee in Kora, Margu Aurora Pants in Bosc Ramie, Osborn Clarity Flats in Greyci

MY STORY: There were so many times I was unsure of why something happened and came to discover the purpose of that event further down in time. Today I feel ready to share about one of these times - my experience at my previous workplace in a garment manufacturer. I was hired on to assist in technical design and source fabrics and trims. Initially it started off well - I was learning how to make patterns both on paper and on the computer. I was also given many resources to source fabrics and trims as needed. Over time, I started answering calls with prospective clients, having meetings with them, and managing the sewing team, while learning less about pattern making. This wasn’t too bad until I started receiving my paychecks late. A week past, another, and another. Not only was I upset that I didn’t receive my paycheck, I also felt disrespected and unvalued. To this day - 2 months after I had completed my 2 weeks leave notice - I still haven’t received my last paycheck and I honestly don’t know if I ever will.

I wanted to share this experience with you because it shows what the fashion industry can look like, even here in Los Angeles. I’ve had experiences that were much better in this aspect, but I’ve also talked with others in the industry who’ve experienced similar issues. As a supporter of ethical fashion, I couldn’t continue to work for an employer who treated their employees this way. I made sure to bring up exactly why I was leaving before I did. They told me to stay as they wouldn’t miss any more payments after that conversation, but I wasn’t in it for myself. It was more about my coworkers who were also undergoing the same situation. They weren’t able to speak up as they had families to feed and support, and couldn’t risk losing their jobs. Even if I started being paid on time, my coworkers wouldn’t necessarily have been, and that wasn’t good enough for me to stay, so I left.

A positive of this experience was that I learned a lot about the process of making garments on a larger scale, but I also learned that jobs aren’t always what they initially appear to be. The role can change drastically as it had for me. I learned about the people in the fashion industry - the people I worked with as well as the clients I encountered. I came to learn the true character of people, even though initially appearing nice. Even so, I don’t want to be judgemental to new people I meet based on previous experiences. Regardless of the possibility of it ending poorly as it had in this case, I want to give each person a chance. Lastly, leaving this job has never made me want to work on my personal projects more. I want to work on creating something that can eventually be the kind of workplace I would have wanted in this job. I need to work towards becoming the change I want to see.

MARGU'S STORY: Emily Rowe founded Margu, a womenswear line combining classic shapes with vintage-inspired details, in 2016. She designs, cuts, and sews each garment in her studio in Fayetteville, Arkansas and sources fabrics and trims from all over the world. Emily takes her time to ensure that each piece is made to her standard and to last. She values quality over quantity, which is why she works meticulously on the details and fit of each piece. Each garment can take 4-10 hours from start to finish, not including designing, drafting, and grading. Emily focuses not only on sustainable fabrics but also on the packaging and trims to minimize the environmental impact on the fashion industry.