our upcycling process step-by-step

Hi internet  ❤

 

Ruby here, the founder of girl of the earth (that's me below)— we do things a bit differently than other brands, so thought I'd offer a little explanation of my process behind manufacturing our vintage fabric womenswear. Read my step-by-step secrets below.

 

 

STEP 1: SOURCING VINTAGE FABRICS 

Firstly, I hunt down vintage fabrics in really unconventional places. I grew up in downtown Manhattan to nutty antique-dealer parents, so I've inherited and cultivated relationships with vintage suppliers, flea market owners, eccentric grandmas, and just plain hoarders, who I buy gorgeous old fabric remnants from. This girl of the earth supply chain is super unconventional and requires my life-long expertise, and a lot of luck― but 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, 1970s, and 1980s. I have a ton of requirements when sourcing— for example the asking price per yard (it has to be reasonable to maintain girl of the earth prices), "hand" (the feel and drape of the textile), fibre composition (I avoid polyester), condition (does it have a stain or tear?), and history (it's nice to trace the fabric's story back to the original owner).

Maybe you’ve heard that the fashion industry today is super wasteful (the third worst polluting industry in the world, even worse than air travel 😳). Our vintage fabrics are truly upcycled textiles with zero-impact on the environment. Go ahead and brag. You're not shopping— you're recycling ☆

I also love our vintage fabrics not just for their kitschy prints and old-fashioned high-quality, but also for their inherent scarcity. Sometimes I find an entire roll, sometimes just one remaining meter. This means every girl of the earth piece is what I call 'few-of-a-kind' (on average, only 3 of a kind) ☆ I adore this, because no one likes wearing the same thing as every other stranger on the street!

Moreover, these leftover pieces of fabric are so small, they're technically "fabric remnants." Even "self-proclaimed sustainable deadstock brands" would never bother to use them, and I understand why— it's a super time-intensive business model. I am always spending way too much time negotiating prices, inspecting the fabric's condition, and giving my seamstress complex instructions about which fabric remnants are for which styles. Call me a hoarder but I just won't let one tiny beautiful fabric remnant go to waste!

 

 

STEP 2: DESIGNING FOR MYSELF

Next, I design every style based on what I wish I were wearing right now (and what vintage fabric remnants I have to work with). To me, this is the easiest part of the whole process because I know exactly what I want, and base almost every style based on a vintage piece I own.

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 disco top just accidentally fell onto me. I'm also a die-hard fan of 60's-style mini skirts and 70's-style halter tops, so you'll see a lot of those silhouettes.

After designing, I make a preliminary pattern (with actual paper! I'm self taught and its messy) and usually sew a sample myself and then make a few edits. This is where my seamstress steps in!

 

 

STEP 3: CUTTING & SEWING - MADE LOCALLY IN NY 

This is when my legendary seamstress, Cici, an ex-couture seamstress in Queens, New York takes over. She is girl of the earth's one and only seamstress (along with a few assistants she employs). She cuts, sews, presses, irons, and delivers the final garments.

Because our pieces are SO one-off, a huge part of Sisi’s job is keeping organised. She is extremely detail-oriented. I try to keep it simple, giving her a TON of fabrics at one time, and say "all of these are for the {x} style." Because we can cut so few units from a fabric, we'll often manufacture a style in 30+ fabrics (or "colourways"). She will then sew as many units as possible, and I take what I can get! She’s pretty much a legend, because even small factories in NYC wouldn't want to deal with this. The only reason it works is because her operation is so tiny that she can pocket basically 100% of what I pay her (and she sets the prices-- I've literally never said negotiated a price of hers!)

  

 

 

STEP 4: LISTING ON GIRLOFTHEEARTH.COM

The last part of the process is listing each piece online, available for you guys to pick and choose!

Overall, this generally just takes longer than big brands. With only 4 alike units on average, the photographing, editing, adding the product online, etc, takes just as long as it would for a big brand that is selling 4000 identical units.

 

 

 

A NOTE ON OUR PRICES (A BIG PART OF STEP 4)

Our prices reflect my time behind each of these steps, as well as my seamstress's expert craftmanship, organisation, and local NY manufacturing. The concept comes with a higher price tag, but you're definitely getting a special piece when you buy girl of the earth ❤

Check out this brand receipt to see a real transparent breakdown of our margins, and shop our vintage fabric womenswear here.

 

shop vintage fabric womenswear ❤

 


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