Jeans: From the Drawing Board to the Dressing Room

The life cycle of a garment from beginning to end.

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What happens in the fashion world before that coveted garment ever hits the runway? Many people are unaware of the life cycle of a garment. From the time it is conceived in the mind of the creative designer to the moment the factory breathes life into it and the second it enters a sales floor, it goes through stages of it’s own life. And each phase has it’s own story. Until my friends met me, they rarely thought to look beyond face value at a garment and realize there was actually a person who thought of every little detail. The zippers and buttons, though merely functional, were well thought out and designed by someone. Somebody, somewhere decided on that little element for the garment. The thread color was the idea of the designer, too. And the shape of the rear pockets, it’s placement on the jeans that determine the way your rear end will look.

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Typical pocket design and design specifications

There is a progression of stages, thoughts, science and art that is poured into every garment you’ll ever wear. The life of a garment travels through many hands and many places before it ever reaches yours. It starts with a drawing and raw fabric. A collaboration of designers, assistants, fabric and trim agents, patternmakers, cutters, sewers, finishers, washers, sales reps and marketers all have a part in creating a garment that you as a consumer choose to wear.

No doubt we have all seen Project Runway and were fascinated by the drama, glamour and hopeful fame and fortune that the designers wish for. The truth is it isn’t all glamour, glitz and notoriety. It’s hard work with its share of tragedy and comedy, delays, financial loss, sweatshops, competition, snags and stress. We are dealing with thousands of apparel units and very strict deadlines. If you ever have the opportunity to visit an apparel manufacturing facility in downtown L.A. you will quickly learn that there is no glamour in fashion beyond a New York runway. There is no such thing as a designer without a chaotic workspace. This is the life of fashion that I know.
So, the next time you try on a great pair of jeans, keep in mind it’s back story and know that there were many talented people who worked hard to make that garment happen. Where they go from now is your choice. Hopefully they end up somewhere other than a landfill.

Read: What are those new jeans really worth?

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