Hi internet ❤
Ruby here, the founder of girl of the earth. We do things a bit differently than other brands, so thought I'd offer a little explanation of the process manufacturing our vintage fabric womenswear.
First, I source vintage fabrics in really unconventional places. I grew up in downtown Manhattan with nutty antique-dealer parents, so over years (or decades) I've cultivated relationships with vintage suppliers, flea market owners, and eccentric grandmas, who I buy gorgeous old fabric remnants from. Our supply chain is super unconventional and requires my expertise, and a lot of luck. Basically I'm just really really good at shopping.
The rule is that something becomes technically 'vintage' at 20 years old, so I buy textiles dating pre-1999, but more often my taste and requirements result in fabrics circa 1930s-1980s. I have a ton of requirements when sourcing— for example the asking price per yard (it has to be reasonable to maintain retail prices), "hand" (the feel of the textile), fibre composition (I really avoid polyester, even if it's cute), condition (Is there a stain or tear?), and history (it's nice to trace the fabric's story back to the original owner).
Sometimes I'll source an entire roll, but more often just 1-3 remaining yards. Technically girl of the earth stuff is made of 'fabric remnants', which means every piece is what I call 'few-of-a-kind™.' If you buy a top from us, on average you're one of only FOUR owners of that identical top! It sucks to wear the same thing as everyone else, so I adore this.
A NOTE ON 'DEADSTOCK':
Have you heard about 'deadstock'? Fun fact about me: I wrote my uni dissertation on deadstock clothing at London College of Fashion.
Deadstock refers to over-ordered fabric that wasn't used or didn't sell, that supposedly would end up in a landfill or burned, if not "rescued" by "eco-friendly" brands. These days, sustainability in fashion is becoming really hip. Don't get me wrong— that is a great thing! But it arrives alongside a lot of greenwashing, aka misleading or exaggerated information in attempt to market "eco-friendly" products (that sometimes aren’t eco-friendly at all).
So why do I think deadstock is greenwashing? Deadstock fabric is actually quite a typical part of the traditional fabric production process. As much as brands would like you to believe it's a new thing, it's truly ancient. Mills manufacture fabric and then sell their excess to fabric stores, usually called 'jobbers'. Where else do you think your grandmother is getting her fabric for sewing club? Deadstock is unfortunately just a long-established point-of-sale in the traditional textile supply-chain. It's DEFINITELY better than manufacturing fabric from scratch, but, on the other hand, supporting/purchasing deadstock fabric can encourage mills to over-produce MORE excess fabric (which sometimes is actually cheaper than shutting off expensive machines once an order is filled). The point is, deadstock is only as 'sustainable' as an outlet store. Yuck.
I do not like to call our fabrics deadstock. Our pieces offer a second life to already existing, truly vintage fabric, meaning upcycled vintage materials with zero-impact on the environment. Not to be dramatic, but this and vintage is the #1 most eco-friendly way to shop. You’re not shopping— you’re recycling™ <3
THIS OLD THING?
I design every style based on what I wish I were wearing right now. To me, this is the easiest part of the whole process because I know exactly what I want. In a word, I would describe the style as effortless. My goal is never to look like I tried too hard while getting dressed, like this backless silk halter top and tweed mini skirt just fell onto me.
After designing, I make a preliminary pattern and sew a sample, then make a few edits, and then choose which fabrics to cut the style in. Often we'll make a style in as many as 20 different fabrics/colourways, because on average we can only cut 4 units from the fabric remnant.
CUTTING & SEWING
Finally, our incredible seamstress, Cici, in Queens NY, is in charge of manufacturing, and she cuts, sews, presses, irons, and delivers the final garments. Because everything is extremely one-off, this requires a ton of attention to detail. Cici is an ex-couture seamstress who has recently gone out on her own with a small team, and I'm so excited to be working with her! I'm also so happy say girl of the earth pieces are made locally in NYC ❤