Citizen Fashion: Shop & Contest

In this entry I’ll highlight the fashion competition I judged last week as well as a shop tour of Tom’s contract facility but first the fashion show. As you may recall, last week I attended the fashion competition hosted by Tom and Helen Lo of Citizen Fashion in Los Angeles. Tom and Helen (owners of a contract sewing service) are encouraging and mentoring emerging talent by awarding the winner with their full service launch production package. This support of course, is in addition to his monthly promotional feature called Design Gallery which anyone can enter to win a limited launch package with site visitors voting on the winners. From Tom’s website:

Jose Marquez is the 2006 FORM fashion competition winner! Congratulations to Jose for a great showing last night, and for winning the competition. Jose received a $500 check and Citizen Fashion, in conjunction with C&A Apparel Service, will now work with Jose to help design his own line to develop up to 8 original styles from patterns through to first samples. Coming up first though, Jose will now prepare a few pieces for the Citizen Fashion label to present at the United Tradeshow next month in Las Vegas. There will be over 500 buyers walking through this show, so the opportunity for building out a brand will be immediate. [Jose is shown below with his winning entry.]


We judges (me and Shana Glick from Genart) had a very difficult time selecting a winner. In the end, we selected three runners up (I donated a book to all four winners). These were:

Jme Thomas, second place

Oscar Lima Jr, third place

and Elaine Suh, fourth place.

Photography for the event (the above pictures included) was provided by Nathaniel Felix Salzman of Felix Fotography.

Not nearly as nice as Felix’s photography, here’s some pictures I have. This first one is of Tom and Helen.

Here’s a picture of the judges, Shana and me.

The following day, I toured Tom and Helen’s facility. Here’s a picture from the back door with three sixty foot cutting tables in evidence.

As I’ve said over and over again, a real contractor will have long tables like these and usually, you need more than one. One table will be for spreading and cutting; the other table is a sorting and bundling area. Or, new cut jobs start on the alternate table, progressing to sort and bundling areas and you switch back and forth between the two.

Tom has lots of machines of varying kinds and I would have taken pictures but those never work if there’s not an operator in attendance and I went after hours so few people were around. I’m glad I went because I had a different idea of the shop capacity. Tom can handle both knits and wovens. When I was there, he had several kinds of jobs in progress, some knit products and some jackets. The jackets were more complex than your average hoodie. These were lined or with finished bound facings. Quite clean and crisp, a lot of single needle work. As you may recall, single needle is considered to be the most difficult sort of work as quality execution relies most heavily on individual operator experience and execution. I don’t think I can link to people he’s doing work for but let’s just describe the labels as impressive and move on.

I really liked his shop and rather than duplicate what Julie had to say about it, my impressions are that while the shop is compact with limited space, they’ve obviously made employee comfort a priority too. If a company makes employee comfort an issue, employees take more care with your work too. Tom says that when he bought the company, there was no break area with employees having to eat on the cutting tables. I don’t need to tell you that’s not good news for anyone. Even with limited space, Tom managed to carve out a full size break room with two microwaves. That might not impress you but I’ve been in plants with two hundred stitchers that only had two microwaves -and no refrigerator for employee use. He’s also stocked it with snacks and beverages, a very progressive attitude!

I wanted to get a picture of Tom’s pattern maker Amada (he also offers pattern services having a Gerber CAD system, complete with digitizer and plotter) but she seemed a bit shy. Besides, she was busy cleaning the bathrooms. I don’t know if that tells you anything but if an employer can get their employees to do job duties outside their purvey, this means they have great esprit de corps. A lot of pattern makers consider it beneath themselves to sweep the floor (I had been guilty of that once) so if you can get one to clean the bathrooms, you’ve obviously got a great team.

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6 comments

  1. Trish says:

    Kathleen, I am so appreciative of your great blog!! I know you are speaking in Las Cruces on Thursday night… with some luck (or a ton of luck) I may be able to make it up there to hear you speak… till then, trish

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