Garland Shirt Company (AKA Brooks Brothers)

Brooks Brothers is an iconic brand with a surprising Made in USA story. Their classic cotton oxfords and polos are crafted in our home state of North Carolina, just 100 miles SE of our headquarters in Durham. Recently, our team visited the factory and its amazing outlet store, and came back with more than some cute heels and tweed blazers; they had a renewed faith in our mission to create quality American apparel.

The team-oriented culture at the Garland Shirt Factory is one we’ve dreamed of ever since we officially launched nearly three years ago. A diverse factory where employees are respected for their craft and care more about the end product than a paycheck. It’s what we envision for the 21st century American garment manufacturer. It’s the pride we have when we watch one of our School House cardigans or tees being made. It’s what get’s us going every morning.

Check out this quick 5 minute video and see why you won’t find many oxford shirts in the Garland outlet store (hint: they’re not making many mistakes!)

The Making of a Collection

The making of a collection is a big deal. Being on the factory floor and seeing a garment crafted before your eyes is an eye-opening experience, and one I wish more people would pay attention to. In a world where so much can be automated and done by a machine, the sewing of a garment – particularly one with as much detail as Burberry – is a sight to behold.

This video on the making for Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2012 women’s line reminded me so much of the first time I walked on one of our factory floors and saw a School House cardigan sewn in front of my eyes. From initial sketch to completion, I hope we never forget that clothes are made and manufactured by people and by hand. Sometimes that kind of craftsmanship can lead to a bit of sticker shock (I myself don’t even own a piece of Burberry), but anything made with craft, care and artistry always will be more expensive than their assembly line, fast fashion counterparts. To me, the investment in items I know will last are worth it in moderation and I think this video displays exactly why that’s true.

Happy Monday & Happy New Year!

Source4Style is a Big Step for Sustainable Fashion

When you’re planning collections, one of the most important steps in the process is choosing fabric. The weight, touch and feel are important upon first look, but drape and fit will prove just as important once samples are made. However, if you’re a new company or designer looking for both a fabric supplier and threads that are sustainable and socially responsible, it can be a pretty tall order.

In comes Source4Style. Founded by model and eco-fashion advocate Summer Rayne Oakes, this site connects designers and suppliers in a way that was never possible before. For instance, let’s say you wanted to design a dress with only organic cotton. You may have in mind what type of fabric you’d like, but the biggest challenge moving forward would be finding a supplier. Most suppliers don’t have ready contact information just sitting in the phone book or a functioning website to visit. Business is typically done over the phone or face-to-face, recommendations come from word of mouth, and even then you’ll want to shop around.

From a pure sourcing standpoint, this site is a massive improvement in the industry. But when you add the eco-friendly and sustainable element in, the true value of this resource becomes evident. You can not only search by fabric type, color and other key filters, but you can search for suppliers based on their sustainability rating – recycled, handmade, organic, fair trade, craft preservation, vertically integrated. In addition to being a great sourcing resource, the site curates articles and posts from a-listers in the eco-fashion world like Amanda Hearst, Angela Lindvall and Marcella Echavarria. One of the more useful articles I found today was entitled “Top 5 Sourcing Tips for Emerging Designers.”

So, kudos to Source4Style and their efforts to democratize sustainable fashion for more designers and more companies. This site will ultimately help drive eco-trends that will have positive impacts on our planet and people for years to come. We look forward to watching it grow!

New Year, New School House

Ok, we’re reeling a bit from an amazing day yesterday. After our CEO and COO unveiled our 2012 collection to Barnes & Noble College (and received rave reviews!), we’re so excited to share our Fall line with you over the next couple of weeks.

The inspiration for this collection spurred out of many amazing conversations and months of soul searching. But in the end, we decided to let our mantra, American Collegiate Craftsmanship, lead the way. Our amazing designer, Emily, alongside Rachel and Susan put together a set of trend boards and hand-crafted designs (literally, she sketches amazing things for us just in her free time!) that are so truly special. Today, I just have to share a snippet of what we’re talking about, so without ado, here’s our inspiration – enjoy!

When I first met Charles Carroll, I could hardly believe there were still people making sweaters in the United States.  Like most young people in my generation, the labels in my closet are like sashes in a Miss Universe pageant: Mexico, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Jordan.  Charles, however, has spent the past forty years making clothing in America, and, as I soon discovered, had more than a thing or two to teach us about making garments the old fashioned way.

School House’s fall 2012 collection features the very best collegiate fashion our team has created with our local factory partners.  What started as an effort to bring our t-shirt and hoodie line from Sri Lanka to the United States, evolved into a soul-searching opportunity to elevate our entire brand.  Our mantra—American Collegiate Craftsmanship—speaks to the journey we’ve been on and the products we believe in.

Here, you’ll find oxford shirts crafted in a historic factory in Garland, North Carolina, updated for the college girl of 2012, as well as covetable, cozy knits made by a worker-owned sewing cooperative in the Appalachains.  We even branched into accessories this season, bringing American made school spirit tights and a chunky, irresistable infinity scarf to the line.  Our favorite pieces, however, are Charles’ sweaters—the perfect pairing of our team’s trademark collegiate fashion sense with his old school approach to quality and construction.  The result?  A collection that’s both youthful and classic, modern and vintage, rooted in the legacy of American manufacturing but inspired by 21stcentury fashion.  We hope you love it.

Thank you, as always, for shopping School House!