We last left off discussing the process from sketch to sample - the first phase of introducing a new collection of Power Of My People shirts into the world.
When things go as planned, the typical next step after approving our shirt samples is to book production with our manufacturer and starting lining things up for the start date.
But…sometimes the best laid plans need to be messed with or, things just get too easy!
Right before we were ready to approve our Spring 2016 samples last October and book in production, we held a pop-up shop in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood. We hold pop-ups quite frequently, we find that they’re a great opportunity to meet our customers, for people to find out about us and see, feel and try on our shirts in person.
The pop-up went great, but something interesting happened - men wanted to try on our shirts, thinking they were menswear. And who could blame them; the design and fabrics of our shirts are indeed influenced by classic, well made menswear. Kyle and I saw this happening every day at our pop-up, and we began to think - could it be possible? Could we introduce a mens line into Power Of My People? And could we make it happen for Spring?
We decided we had to try - if the interest is there, why not provide it? So we went back to the drawing board and posed an important question to each other - what makes a perfect men’s casual shirt? A lot of standards were easily transferred from our women’s shirts - well made, purposeful design, and using the best fabrics we can find. We developed the fit as a slim-standard hybrid - possessing the lean lines of a slim fitting shirt, but easing it out just enough so that movement and comfort is not compromised.
A few muslin prototypes later and we had our shirt.
With the extra couple of months that it took to develop our men’s shirt, we had to ensure that things went efficiently for production, or our Spring collection would unwittingly become our Fall.
Production begins similarly to sampling - with cutting. A marker is printed with our pattern pieces on it for each size and style of shirt and placed on the fabric that’s to be cut - but this time the cutters will lay several layers of fabric on top of each other. This means that the cutter will be able to cut dozens of shirts in the same amount of time, and with the same accuracy as just one shirt.
The cutter uses an electric slicer that can cut through hundreds of layers of fabric at one time. There is a lot of skill needed before the cutting even begins - laying each layer of fabric smoothly, with edges aligned and grain lines identical. The cutters will also pin down the marker to the top few layers of fabric in order to avoid slippage and ensure an accurate cut.
A few select pattern pieces require an added layer called ‘fusing’, the purpose of which being to incorporate added structure in places like the collar, cuffs, and centre front placket. There are varying thicknesses and application techniques which dictates the amount of stiffness the fusing adds to a shirt. Classic business shirts, for example, use thick fusing on both the top and bottom layer of collars and cuffs, resulting in a very crisp effect. Our shirts, though refined, are more casual by nature, so we fuse just the top layer of our cuffs and collars to avoid an overly starchy result.
Each button-up consists of around 27 individual pieces, taking roughly 35 construction steps to complete. To produce an intricate garment like a button-up shirt, organization cannot be overlooked. As soon as cutting takes place, each piece is bundled with its puzzle pieces, that once combined will make a fully fashioned shirt.
Each shirt is then passed onto sewers, who will construct our shirts from start to finish. Buttons and buttonholes are added at the end by a technician that uses a specialized machine.
When we first started Power Of My People, Kyle and I made all of our shirts ourselves - Kyle cutting the fabric on our apartment floor, and myself sewing them in our utility closet that housed the sewing machines. The first shirts we made took us 18 hours to construct…each. I will never get tired of watching the skillful technicians who make our shirts now, at the speed in which they make them, while achieving a standard of quality to be proud of.
It’s crazy how detailed and vast the process from sketch to production is from start to finish. Each season I’m slightly amazed that we’re able to pull it off! We have a lot of gratitude for each person who’s involved throughout the process, and we're proud to share a little bit of it with you.
We are releasing new shirts from this Spring/Summer 2016 collection every two weeks online. Click here to view the collection as it's growing.
Do you have questions about the production process of our shirts? Is there a missing link that you’ve always wondered about? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and say hi.
Co-owner, Shirt Person
Power Of My People