Hello everyone! Well I’m back from my trip visiting Patternworks and Citizen Fashion in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I got the flu so I’m not good for a trip report today. Conveniently enough -lacking a post as I do- Julie had just returned from a tour of Tom’s place (Citizen Fashion) and emailed me her impressions of her tour which you should find educational so that’s what I’m leaving with you today. Thanks Julie!
I just got back from LA myself and toured Tom’s place. He and Helen are 2 of the nicest folks around & full of valuable tips. I had planned the trip strictly to source fabric, but ended up talking to a few dye houses and emailing C&A. I meant to update you last week, but am just getting around to writing about it. I hope to put together a more comprehensive look at my time in LA: all about the Fashion District, the real story on jobbers in the Textile District, scoop on swatches and sample yardage, etc. I think DEs would find it very helpful and interesting. Maybe I can create it as a follow-up post after your trip? Luckily, Tom had time to meet with me, so I hopped in the car and drove to Santa Ana to check it out.
Anyway, I was more than impressed with C&A. Here in Dallas I know of a 1-stop-shop in development, but it is not quite ready to handle what Tom & Helen can. From the time you walk in (I came through the back door), the space looks organized. Cleaner than my cutter’s space here & he is a tidy guy! Everything you’d expect to see in a fully-operational cutting house. I didn’t get to check out the sewing area in detail, but it seemed totally loaded, sewers at the ready, people pressing & packaging garments. Production in full-swing. Always fun to see. There is a pattern/sample room & an office area off the lobby where I was able to sit with Tom. Again, I was struck by how organized these people are! A task board showing all jobs — color coded spec sheets, status reports, etc. This way they know if a job is in development or production. Tom was kind enough to listen to my needs & analyze whether we could be a fit.
I was most impressed (surprised) that he had these things to say…
On the pattern maker I use locally:
“Stick with her. She’s local and she’s worth the money”
On the price I pay for samples with my contractor in town:
“That’s not a bad price”
On production prices he was very honest– he said they may not always be able to beat my local contractor’s prices, and reminded me to factor in the cost of handling production via remote. He was totally realistic, which I greatly appreciate.
We looked at some sample garments and threw out some ballpark figures. I saw one hoodie in development that was pretty involved and had a lot of character. Maybe you can look for it. I thought the quality was nice and justified the production price ($20). Obviously a boutique-style, high-end “sweatshirt”! Look at it and see if you agree. [kf here: I did see it and I concur] Everything about this garment was special. Not your typical Fruit of the Loom sweatshirt for $6.00 at Wal-Mart, for sure. Maybe something Diesel would do.
I told him I would be sending you my 2 cents– and I’m late!. I can’t wait to see what you think of the shop and their processes– I didn’t get the full tour, but he was good enough to see me last minute. Incidentally, he didn’t charge a consultation fee, which I expected (and offered) to pay. Genuinely nice guy. Helen was busy in the back, but popped in to give me some background on how they started the biz. I’ll let you be the interviewer here. :)
So that is a tiny snapshot of the vibe I got from the place. I intended to send you a copy he gave me of the “Launch Program” details and have been a major slacker. I felt it was a great value for DE’s just starting out (people who have just stumbled onto your book). I gathered Tom also felt the Launch Program wasn’t quite for me, but if I had been where I was 2 years ago, it could have been a good investment– could have saved me time (which is money!). Now I can see using them for tricky samples and possibly production, depending on costs, etc.
A DE will have to take a hard look at extra costs in addition to what the Launch covers; however, as I found sometimes there can be extra charges for certain services (sourcing trims, etc). The main thing to remember is that you have to ask. Ask if there is a charge for finding a converter. Ask what each sample garment will cost beyond development & what the Launch covers. A thorough review of a DE’s budget will be necessary. A DE would be remiss to assume the Launch is all-inclusive (and it sounds like it could be!). All in all, I think it is a great idea for a DE starting out in LA. Totally reasonable prices for that city. Possibly worth it for someone who has money than time– and no local resources. We are lucky we still have resources in Dallas to work with.
Nutshell…for what it’s worth! Thanks for posting his info in the first place and have a great trip!
ps– while I was in LA I contacted Evans and didn’t get a response until I had been back home a few days. The response was vague & not terribly helpful (from an assistant). I was impressed that Tom called me the very first day! Service-oriented!