In 2021 we relaunched select styles in a new-to-us cotton canvas made from a combination of 80% upcycled cotton and 20% LEED certified cotton. The upcycled cotton is a product of The New Denim Project in Guatemala that focuses on circular manufacturing. The upcycled cotton fiber is essentially fiber waste from regional spinning mills and factories. When its paired with the small amount of virgin cotton it can successfully be spun and woven into new fabric.
Due to the fact that this material is made with upcycled yarn, there are more imperfections in the weave. These are not defects—they are a natural result of using shorter staple fibers, and a necessary result of the important waste-reducing properties of this fabrics. Small slubs, nubs, and misweaves do not impact the integrity of the garment, they just give it a bit of character and serve as a reminder of what this material stands for.
Still, we pulled around 100 units from inspection that we considered our customers wouldn't feel 100% satisfied with due to occasional defects or discolorations in the fabric that felt a bit more present than we would like.
This is where The Perfectly Imperfect Collection found its genesis. Elizabeth Suzann alumni, Destiny Destefano and Camille Witt teamed up with Liz to mend and work the garment imperfections into something special, and possibly better than a perfect garment.
These pieces were mended, dyed, and painted over the course of several months, so seeing the collection come together in June of 2023 on our ES Marketplace was a welcomed time of closure and reflection for the artists involved. Also, a time for celebration. These special garments were so well received by our community, as was the zero-waste initiative itself. We took some time after the launch to connect with Destiny, Camille, and Liz to get their thoughts on the process and experience. Here is what they had to say.
My process with these garments was to approach them simply. I first gathered some imagery inspiration from artists such as Hilma Af Klint, Georgia O'Keefe, and @jo.nesr. For the most part, I knew I wanted to let the thread guide me. I drew a few sketches to consider line and placement, then I started with the imperfection and allowed the material to speak to me. At times, I did not know where I would take a piece until I was already on my way with it.
To mend and work with these imperfections felt like quite the metaphor: We ought to embellish our so-called flaws. We ought to sew seeds for tomorrow into our lives. We can embrace bumps and holes as inspiration for creation and gratitude for life, allowing our intuition to guide us without judgment to blossom into who we are constantly becoming. I hope these colorful threads speak to each of you who sees them as a reminder that being perfect is a myth and life's joy is hiding in the imperfect- waiting for us to embellish and embrace her.
Natural dyes are so special. I love how surprised people are by the vibrancy and richness that can be achieved through natural dyes. They have a quality to them that feels almost alive! I used Madder Root and Logwood to dye these special pieces in collaboration with Liz and Destiny. It's hard to believe such magic colors could come from trees!
This limited run of pieces were garment dyed, my favorite application for natural dyes. I think the way the pigment settles into the seams and gives the piece dimension and a sun-faded look is so gorgeous. Sometimes what makes a garment a forever piece is breathing new life into it. These pieces got to evolve into something new worth celebrating. How cool is that?
Some of the first garments I ever created for Elizabeth Suzann back in 2012 were hand-painted, and using a piece of clothing as a canvas is an incredibly exciting concept to me. I really enjoyed returning to those roots and playing with a whimsical combination of a few different patterns in one garment.
I created these hand-painted trenches for the STATE Secret Catalog a few summers back. I am such a huge fan of that project, and was so excited about the opportunity to make something unique, a little different, and limited in quantity.
In an effort to make the most of the materials we had already invested in, I chose to use our Natural Cotton Clyde Trench as a base for a hand-painted print. This colorway (the solid Natural Canvas, pre-paint), while a personal favorite of mine, is a slower seller in outerwear. I wanted to see these garments live up to their fullest potential, so adding a print to them felt like a perfect match.
These last few pieces were leftover from the Secret Catalog, and I'm so happy we had a chance to bring them to you all through our Marketplace.