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Mary's back in New York this week for the final fitting of the size-18-equivalent suit. And it's looking great! With the changes made from last month's fitting the suit is ready to be graded into digitized patterns for our larger suit sizes. Which keeps us right on track to ship in mid-July!
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Take a look at Jessica (size 18 fit model) in this updated version of the Lyon Jacket! We're very pleased with how it fits her curves without accentuating them.
Can't wait to see it on you!
The batteries in my 4-year-old's remote control car died and we didn't have 3 fresh AA batteries.
... and a Saint Harridan pocket knife to strip the wires. (I didn't let her use the knife.)
But we do have a basket of fun electricity stuff for experiments.
We bypassed the need for 3 AA batteries by connecting the motor to a 9-volt battery.
...and a Saint Harridan screwdriver.
The cover didn't fit as well, but my 4-year-old is a whiz with a roll of Scotch tape.
And we're connected!
Garment workers on break: Teresa, Lidia, Soon-E, Emilia, and Maria.
It has been an incredible week.
Tuesday morning I drove from New York to Massachusetts to visit the factory that will produce Saint Harridan’s jackets, trousers, and vests. I’ll admit, in the wake of the garment factory collapse and fire in Bangladesh
this week, I made this journey with a whole trunk full of conflicting feelings. I am of course determined to choose an ethical production site for Saint Harridan’s garments, but the senseless and criminal death of hundreds of garment workers in Dakha renders me wary of any satisfaction or joy I might take from finding a factory that meets my criteria. I have always been committed to building Saint Harridan as a socially responsible business from the ground up, but even my boldest decisions can’t offer those workers their lives back. Nor can I undo the corruption that killed them.Listening to Workers
After five hours on the road, the first thing I did when I arrived at the factory was find workers outside in the break area. You can always learn a great deal by talking to workers when their boss isn't around and I was eager to get started before the managers knew I was there.
I talked with a group of five women. They were all proud of their work at the factory, each telling me her role in the suit-making process. Lidia, who has worked there her “entire life,” was clearly pleased with the expertise longevity has brought her, explaining to me that she is a master craftsperson, not just a garment worker. She explained that while there are some part of the suit-making process that do not require skilled labor, other parts - like the job she does - requires years of experience to know how to "read" the drape of the fabric and its relationship with the inner canvas layer. (Her specialty: the chest piece of a jacket.)
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"There are over 160 steps to making just the jacket,' Lidia told me. "None of us can build a suit alone. We each know our own part, our own details. But we can’t make a suit unless we all work together."
Not everyone felt as enthusiastic as Lidia, but all agreed they have good jobs at this factory. Each of the workers I talked to were able to articulate the attention to detail that each and every garment receives - both by the individual craftsperson and by the processes that creates the suits. The machinery, the skills, and the extra steps they take, all go into making some of the highest quality off-the-rack suits in the world.
My tour of the factory was a thrill. To see the way suits are constructed and understand the precision of the work each person puts into the final product--it was such a rush! We've come so far on this journey. We've worked our way through a hundred tangles on a quest to create a company that honors our self reverence with clothing that not only fits, but feels right. And we’re almost there. But ultimately, its all for naught unless we have someone to make the damn suits!
And here they were: highly skilled, well trained, union-backed garment workers who are paid an average of $24 per hour to perform a job that makes them proud.
Relieved. Confident. With every step I took through that factory, with every person I met, I felt more and more pride in what we at Saint Harridan are building. Not pride because we are providing more business for these workers (which of course I am happy to do). But pride in accomplishing what we set out to accomplish. Pride because Saint Harridan isn’t really about selling suits. It’s is about creating clothes that make you feel like you. Like the best you. Like the you that makes you proud. And you just can’t do that in a suit someone had to risk their life to make.
It became so clear to me, immediately, these garments workers are as much a part of the Saint Harridan story as I am. Because just like Lidia can’t construct a suit without Teresa, Soon-E, Emilia, and Maria, I can’t build Saint Harridan without all of them.
It’s humbling. It’s moving. It’s empowering.
Commitment to Social Responsibility Rings True
Because, yes, right now we are a little speck of lint in the fashion world. I am not puffed up enough to think that the decisions Saint Harridan makes have any immediate effect on the criminal horrors woven into the global garment industry. Nevertheless, we are a part of this industry, and therefore have a responsibility to work towards improving the whole. This has always been a core of Saint Harridan’s mission. Our philosophy is not inspired by the tragedy in Bangladesh, but it has been highlighted by it. We will continuously explore ways we can lend our voice to efforts that bring attention to the change that is necessary. Coalitions, pledges--any effective means we can find to merge our small pool of resources with other like-minded businesses--we will pursue.
And in the meantime, I feel very thankful that I can drive to Massachusetts and meet the people who will sew our suits. Your suits. I don’t believe the US has the market on ethical labor practices, nor do I believe a “Made In the USA” label guarantees that clothes are produced in safe working conditions by people paid a fair wage. But I know that on Tuesday, I drove to that factory. I spoke with the people who worked there. I listened to what they had to say. I watched them work. I watched them rest.
And I will feel proud to wear a suit sewn by their hands.
Saint Harridan Founder, Mary Going made it to New York and spent the day at corporate headquarters of the company that will be manufacturing Saint Harridan's suits! Here's what Mary reports so far:
We did the first fitting today and it went sooooo well. Suits and shirts just need a little more tweaking and they'll be ready to produce! I'm staying until Friday for a second fitting at which point I'll have a much better idea of the timing of our first run.
Today we worked with two fit models. They come from a modeling agency and are selected for their "perfect" average proportions (not because they are butch!).
John, Jessica, and Greg.
Though Saint Harridan won't use women's sizing, we are making suits for women's proportions, so it's useful at this stage in the development process to work with the language of women's sizing. Jessica (above) is a "perfect" women's size 18 and wears double-D cups, helping us ensure our design will work with full breasts.
Jessica represents the approximate middle of our upper size range. Again, speaking in women's sizes, once Jessica's suit fits the way we want it to, the pattern will be graded from 16 to 24. You're right if you're noticing that 18 is not exactly in the middle. Larger fit models are harder to find.
Saint Harridan's Production Consultant, Greg Lagola hanging with Mary.
Sample suit material flown from Italy to California and then hauled by Saint Mary to NYC.
This is Amy. She's a "perfect" women's size 8.
Amy (above) represents the middle of our smaller size range. We'll use the same process to grade her prototype suit to the smaller sizes.
The guy in this photo (above) is John. He works at the factory and knows men's suiting backward and forward. It was so much fun collaborating with him, Greg and the fit models to come up with the construction details that are really going to make our line work!
Tomorrow I'm off to Massachusetts to visit the factories where our Jackets, Vests, and Trousers will be made!
Thanks for all your support and well wishes.
sar·to·ri·al: adj. Of or relating to a tailor, tailoring, or tailored clothing: sartorial elegance.
| |Saint Harridan's fashion adviser, Sheree L. Ross (aka http://preppybaba.com/) answers your sartorial questions in a monthly column. Ever wanted to know whether to wear that tie with those shoes, or how to care for your most expensive outerwear? Send in your questions and let's get to the bottom of your fashion quandaries. Oh, and please send her your love and relationship questions too, of course. Sheree knows all! Post questions for The Sartorial Saint on our Facebook page or in our comment section below.
Last week one of our supporters asked: Sheree, is tailoring necessary when you buy a suit off the rack?
Here's what our Sartorial Saint had to say:
Thanks for your question.
2011©NorysRodriguez-Ray AllRightsReserved www.behance.net/NorysRodriguez-Ray
Now I’ve got one for you: ever look in a magazine and wish your suit fit just like that model's? What you might not know is, you turn that model around and you'll find dozens of clothes pins pulling that suit to its tight fitting perfection.
No suit fits like it came from a Savile Row tailor unless it actually did.
Suits and shirts that fit impeccably have either been custom made for that body or altered to fit after purchase. (There are 7 billion people on this planet after all, and almost as many shapes and sizes.)
So here are a few things you should know when you’re buying a suit off the rack.
Start with the Right Size Suit
First, you want to be sure the suit you’ve chosen is your size. Here’s what to look for:
- Pants: Even if a they’re a bit loose they should, for the most part, cut the desired silhouette. Length and reasonable waist gaps can be easily altered to fit.
- Jacket Shoulders: Put it on and look at how it fits around your shoulders. If the top of your frame feels either constrained or so roomy you look like you’re wearing football pads under that thing, then you’re in the wrong size. Few tailors will take on the altering of shoulders and the cost is usually prohibitive.
- Shirt Neck: It should neither be standing out wide or wrinkled and bunched at the collar.
We Saints are used to compromising on shoulder and neck fit to accommodate our chest measurements. But if it’s a Saint Harridan suit you’re buying, you’ll be able to assess these areas (dare I say?) more critically, because the suit will be designed for your general shape.
Once you’re sure you have the right size suit, the most common necessary alteration is length: pants, sleeves, and sometimes jacket. When you go to the tailor be sure to wear the shoes you will typically wear with the pants you’re hemming, so you can see how the cuffs of the shirt work and how the pant length falls over the vamp and heel of the shoe.
Cut or Fold?
If shortening, be sure to specify whether you want them to fold or actually cut off the extra fabric. My advice - unless it will take away from the finished look - ask them to leave it. People are human and occasionally make mistakes. If they do, at least there will be some wiggle room for corrections.
Honor Yourself with an Affirming Experience
Now we all know that when you’re hanging out on the other side of the gender line, a tailor shop can be as uncomfortable as that eighth grade graduation dress your parents made you wear. But it doesn’t have to be so unnerving. You are worthy of personal reverence and a little advance work will help set that tone.
Here are some tips for creating an alteration experience that will leave you feeling handsome and bold in your new suit:
- Do your research: Visit Yelp or Angie’s list, or your local “lavender pages” and find a queer friendly tailor. (And if you have a great experience, help your fellow Saints out by posting a review! You're welcome to send us info on good and bad tailoring experiences either by posting on Facebook or sending an email to email@example.com. Eventually we may get a list going on our site.)
- Bring along a date: Do yourself the favor of a second set of eyes that belong to someone you love. Or more to the point: someone who loves you. The ideal alteration date is someone who lives to see you looking your finest. And please, don’t skimp on this! Pick the right person and make sure they’re available. If they’re not, change the appointment, not your admirer.
- Be critical: Have the tailor pin the proposed alterations on you and look at yourself in a full length mirror. And I mean loooooook. Take the time you need. If you don’t want feminine tucks and darts, make sure they aren’t slipping any in. If something doesn’t look exactly how you want it, speak up. It’s your support person’s job to make sure you’re completely satisfied before you get back into your street clothes and pay your bill.
Now take a deep breath and trust me. You’re going to look fantastic.
| || |...and it looks like Saint H ordered one for themself!No doubt Katie-on-the-spot will have yours headed your way in no time.
We are proud to announce: Saint Harridan suits will be made in Massachusetts (Martin Trousers, Lyon Jackets, and Fein Vests) and North Carolina (Parker Dress Shirts).
| |When does it all go down?
- Step 1: Factories create samples to make sure they are getting it right. (Ready 2nd to 3rd week in May)
- Step 2: Saint Harridan gets a spot in the manufacturing queue.
- At this point, the production could be ready as early as mid-July.
The Parker Dress Shirt
Thank s for your patience ... you're a Saint. ;)
To those who supported our fantastically successful Kickstarter campaign, please know: Your pre-purchase and your patience are the fuel that’s driving this revolution in clothing. Saint Harridan is bringing a new kind of clothes with a new kind of fit into the marketplace. We didn’t do it by soliciting venture capitalists. We did it by pooling our Saintly resources. Your $25 commingled with her $950 and his $725... and together we had enough to make this happen.
Saint Harridan's Lyon Jacket. These technical drawings--prepared by our Production Consultant, Greg--allowed manufacturers to view the details of the suits so they could give accurate production quotes. (And we think they look pretty cool.)
The Fein Vest
The Martin Trouser
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As we continue introducing our followers to the Saint Harridan crew, I guess it’s time I pop my head out from behind the Saintly “we” and say, “hey!”
I’m Liz Rose-Cohen, Saint Harridan’s communications-something-or-another. My job is to keep y’all up to date on what’s going on in Saint Harridan land, via social networking, email updates, blog posts, and whatever else we dream up.
Meeting Lord and Lady Harridan
I met Mary Going and Martha Rynberg (Lord and Lady Harridan) ten years ago in Portland, Maine: they handed me a paintbrush and told me to get to work. We were all part of a bartering network (No way! A bunch of lesbians trading home improvement skills? That’s so hard to picture.) and my partner and I signed up for a shift to help paint Mary and Martha’s house. I’m sorry to admit we only did the one painting day but we’ve been friends ever since.
And even then, ten years go, Mary was talking about how to make a new kind of clothes.
This is us (Mary, Me, Martha, and my partner Lauren) back in Maine. But this *isn't* the house we helped paint. ;)
“Casual is easy,” I remember Mary saying, right there in our living room, sitting on our second hand couch. “Because the casual gender line isn’t so specific. It’s dressing up that’s hard.”
"Aha ... gender!"
And damn if Mary Going wasn’t right. Until that night I thought I just didn’t like dressing up. The more formal the clothes, the more I felt like I was in drag, whether in a taffeta bridesmaid’s dress or a suit from Goodwill that hung off my shoulders and was too tight around the hips. None of it felt like me. I figured maybe I had no gender. I wasn’t masculine or feminine. Just … uh … sloppy.
We all have our “aha! moments.” That night was one of mine. The problem wasn’t dressing up. It was relinquishing androgyny. It was choosing between looking entirely out-of-place in a dress, or pre-pubescent in a suit made to fit a body that wasn’t mine. No wonder nothing ever felt right.
So ten years later, writing Saint Harridan updates, reporting out to all you Saints on the status of our corner of the revolution, I just feel so damn lucky. Lucky to know Mary and Martha. Lucky they’ve been willing to take this risk on all our behalf. To throw their time, energy, capital, brains, creativity into making this company happen. Lucky to know that the next time I go to a wedding, or a bat mitzvah, or a graduation, the next time I give a presentation, or have an interview, or want to look really good out on the town with my wife. I won’t be underdressed. I won’t feel ridiculous or infantilized. I’ll feel fantastic!
Just can’t wait to sport my Saint Harridan suit!
And I’m always happy to receive news from all you Saints (and those who love Saints) so please send it my way. Reading something you think other Saints should see? Watching a Saint studded film? Looking hot in your Saint Harridan swag? Send me the link, forward the post, get me that pic! You can reach me through our facebook page
, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
So proud to be among you.
Liz(oh, and yah, that's tape on my glasses in the pictures above. I haven't given up all of my sloppy.)
Couldn't resist including this pic of Mr. Mary Going and my partner (of 17 years) during the final seconds of the Saint Harridan Kickstarter campaign. Y'all just kept on pledging! It was so much fun to watch!
"Not a bad day," says Katie over at HQ. "I call this picture '100 Happy Saints.'" Go Katie Go!
Katie assembles shelving, configures spreadsheets, wields the power tools, and tries to talk Mary and Martha's youngest daughter into relinquishing some gender bending Colorforms to dress up the bathroom signs at HQ. Katie's thinking maybe "a beard for the little skirt-wearer and a purse for the stick figure with pants."
But of course Katie's main job is fulfilling all the Kickstarter rewards. "My goal right now is to get all those Saints their swag!" Katie tells us. And there's no doubt, if you've received a postcard, t-shirt, screwdriver, dog tag, or patch in the mail, it was carefully packaged by none other than Mr. Katie.
Prior to becoming Katie-on-the-spot at Saint Harridan, Katie spent several years leading outdoor programming for kids. From rock climbing to ropes courses to canoe trips, Katie is the Patron Saint of Adventure.
And, Katie tells us, the combined love of rock climbing and fashionable menswear can only lead to one thing ...
Yep, you guessed it. This fab truck used to be Mr. Katie's home on wheels. They spent six years together culminating in a cross-country move last Fall when Katie relocated from New Hampshire to the Bay Area and sold the truck!
But we're so glad Katie's here, we don't care that the truck's gone.
These days Katie can be found hanging out at HQ doing, well, whatever we need done.
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... "I am a big appreciator of the lost art of knot work. Here's a picture of the latest tie knot I learned called the Merovingian."
Now that is a knot!
So c'mon Saints! Let's give Katie some love!