I am so excited about all the great new things coming up here at robin b.! As you may already know, we recently released our essential tee in three new colors - blush, navy, and grey - all perfect for summer wear! Also new in the shop is our sleeveless turtleneck - made from the same luxurious fabric as our essentials tee, it will let you step up your fashion game while keeping effortlessly cool and comfortable. I also have several new pieces in the works, that I just know you’re going to love! While I’ve been going through the process of taking my latest designs from drawing to production, I thought it might be fun to give you all a little bit of an idea of how we go through this process!
Fast fashion tends to be king these days… as society’s pace has quickened, trends happen in a flash and are gone nearly as quickly, so distributors end up sacrificing quality just to get items through the production process before the moment has passed, rather than taking the time to make sure they’re just right. While that may work for some, I am all about details, and making sure that everything about a garment is as perfect as possible! It may be a slower, more costly way to go about it, but my goal is to produce clothes that will last - they fit and wear well, and are classic designs that aren’t going to go out of style next month!
The whole process, from drawing to finished garment, takes several months! First, I sketch out a design. Yes, really! For all my tech background, I’m an artist at heart, and I love to draw things out. The drawing then gets sent to my partner Julie in New York. Julie creates the pattern from my drawing, and selects fabric swatches to send to me based on what I’ve told her I envision for the piece i.e. super soft, easy for travel, washable, etc. Once I have the swatches (more of a process than one might expect, especially when they occasionally get lost in the mail) and have chosen the right one, Julie will order just enough to create one garment. For the fit-and-flare dress that we’re currently working on, for example, that’s about 2.5 yards of fabric. Once the piece is ready, I head to New York to see it on our fit model.
What’s a fit model, you ask? In my opinion, using a fit model is one of the most important steps in the process! Some companies may skip this step, because it’s just one more expense in the process - but seeing the garment on a real body, and getting feedback about how it feels, what could be better, etc, is really priceless. The fit model we use isn’t a stick-straight, high-fashion model you would see walking a runway at Fashion Week; she’s someone we’d imagine could be a customer of ours! She’s a size 6, has some curves to her, and knows how clothing should fit and feel. Her expertise is invaluable.
Once we’ve seen the piece “in action” on our fit model, we talk about what needs to be improved or change. Every change equals a change to the pattern, and then a new sample is created from there. I’m committed to repeating this process as many times as it takes to get it right! I’ve been working on a classic white blouse for over a year now - I just haven’t been happy with some of the details; and I’m not going to send it to production until it’s perfect! Once we have our finalized pattern, we put it through a computer program that scales the pattern for size. We design a size 6, and the program adjusts down for all sizes to a 2, and up to a size 14.
Next up is the “cut and sew” step. We order the fabric and production begins! Because my garments are made in NYC, production takes a little longer than it may elsewhere - and that’s a good thing! I know that the conditions where my line is produced are good, labor laws are complied with, and ethically-produced clothing is definitely worth the extra time and cost. When the production run is complete, the garments are shipped to my shop here in Rhode Island.
One of the things I absolutely love about having my brick-and-mortar store is the instant feedback I get from my customers. For instance, my Career-to-Cocktails dress was originally a midi-length, which I loved. However, we heard from many customers that the length led to a bit of bunching in the middle, which they did not love. So I edited the design to hit just below the knee - still a super classy and versatile look, and much more comfortable. I also heard from my customers that they’d like to see a wide-legged pant; we’re currently in the pre-order stage for that lovely new piece!