October 31, 2017 • All / Behind the scenes

Signature Generation 4

Tomorrow, we launch Generation 4 of our Signature Collection. This collection is the core of what we do. It’s our year-round grouping of classic staples - our best work. It began by pulling together the strongest garments from each seasonal collection, and now it has a life of its own. The Signature Collection is ever-evolving, with frequent improvements and adjustments made based on your feedback. They are your favorites (and mine); they are foundational, seasonless, versatile, well-engineered, functional garments that tell a positive story about who we are and what we believe. With each new generation of the collection, we streamline styles, fine tune fit, and evaluate our materials - making room for new work, improving current items, and pruning those that are no longer the right fit. To earn a place in the Signature Collection, a garment has to be highly functional and versatile in both practical and aesthetic terms.

Launch day is always super exciting, and we have tried to make this one as educational and informative as possible! In addition to this post, hang out with us tomorrow for lots of exciting pre- and post-launch content.

From 8:30AM to 9:30AM tomorrow we’ll be Instastory-ing a tour of warehouse, taking a look at the design process, and talking about what went into creating this collection. From 9:30AM to 10:00AM we’ll be doing an Instagram Live Q&A with all of our followers. So tune in, and ask us any questions before we launch! Then we’ll be launching Generation 4 at 11:00AM CST! We’ll be checking in with our team throughout the day as we celebrate.

What We've Been Working On

Working on this generation in particular has felt both grueling and incredibly rewarding at the same time. Many of the edits we’ve made are minute and technical. Important but small pattern changes like moving a seam line an ⅛” here, adjusting length by ½”, or shifting necklines by ⅜”, retesting our shrinkage more precisely than I previously thought possible (and getting a brand new industrial washer and dryer!), testing stitch lengths and thread gauges, deep diving into our operations processes to ensure that garment construction is consistent down to a fraction of an inch, switching our garment tags to 100% biodegradable cotton - these are the kind of details we’ve been obsessing over for months. We’ve transitioned styles to new fabrics, ensuring that the change of material has been considered in the pattern. This work has resulted in vastly improved garments in terms of fit and function, even though it doesn’t feel as flashy or visual as a brand new collection. That’s not to say there’s no flash - we have added several new styles that I’m excited about and have introduced some color that feels at once fresh and nostalgic.

Then there is an entirely different category of work outside of creating the actual garments, which is perhaps what makes me most proud. We reimagined our photography style and changed our lighting setup to show the most accurate color possible and to highlight the natural texture of our fabrics. Speaking of which, we photographed most fabrics unpressed to reflect the way they’ll actually be worn in your day-to-day life. We returned to our roots with styling, bringing back in sneakers that I wear at least once a week, shooting barefoot, and pairing our natural fibers with the coziest wool socks. We also shot the collection on a beautiful woman that much more closely represents our customer (on which we now have so much great information, thanks to our Sizing Survey!) in size and height - she’s 5’ 6” and a Size 4.

We’ve developed a new suite of packaging paper with another local artist that you’ll start seeing soon. We shot flat photos of every single garment to round out the visual information available to you. We updated our FAQ page and cleaned up some other areas of the site. The product page will now include a more streamlined size chart, GARMENT MEASUREMENTS FOR EVERY SIZE, updated care instructions, notes on what has been updated with Generation 4, and a link to shop similar styles.

Then there are the big behind-the-scenes efforts we’ve been making in preparation for this launch. We’ve been focusing on two major areas: sizing and operations. Let’s dig into those below!

Sizing

A few months back we sent out a sizing survey to collect information about your size, your fit preferences, and your shopping experience with ES and other companies. We learned so much from this study, and we were able to take the majority of the data and use it in re-defining our sizing. We used the data from our survey (in conjunction with ASTM and peer brand data) to establish a new base size. We fit every garment from the ground up on a fit model representative of that size. This was a really important step - until this generation we haven’t had a clearly defined fit model or base size, making it hard to achieve consistent sizing from garment to garment. From our new base size, we totally overhauled our grading. Grading is the process of taking a base pattern (ideally the base pattern is drafted in the middle size: an OS, Medium, or 8 in our case) and increasing or decreasing it in size to generate the other size patterns.

In the past we’ve used linear grading, meaning that each size increased and decreased by the same amount across the board - from 00-16. While that works for smaller size ranges (2-10 or S-L for example), ours was large enough to merit more nuanced grading. We’ve now transitioned to scaled grading, meaning the smaller end of our size chart has smaller jumps between sizes, and the larger end of our size chart has larger jumps between sizes. This should significantly improve fit across the board.

Here’s why: Our previous size chart had a 1” difference in circumference of bust/waist/hip between every numbered size. For a woman with a 37” waist, that 1” difference from size to size is a 2.7% jump. It’s a relatively small difference and will result in two different sizes fitting very similarly, making it hard to achieve the right fit without going up or down multiple sizes. For a woman with a 22” waist, that 1” difference from size to size is a 5% jump, almost twice as significant. This will result in two different sizes often fitting too differently, making it hard to find a size that is not either too large or too small.

Enter: Scaled Grading
The jumps between sizes are smaller on the smaller end of the size chart, and the jumps are larger on the larger end. This should make selecting a size easier while also accommodating even more women in our size chart. It’s also why we now have a 000 and XXS on our size chart, but the measurements are the same as our previous 00, and why our size 16 now has larger measurements than it previously did.

It’s important to note that much of this groundwork was done in preparation for adding additional sizes. We have made these adjustments to our base size and to our grading so that we can seamlessly add up to a US Size 28 in the future. Extended sizing will merit its own celebratory launch next year - we want to make sure we get the fit just right and have flawless imagery to go along with it!

We also adjusted our base patterns to more accurately reflect our new size chart - we know many folks were sizing down in certain styles that ran large, and we’ve tried to eliminate any instances of that across the board. Our goal is for you to be able to confidently order according to the size chart regardless of the style. While we were at it, we re-fit our length options, refining the crotch fit and rise. Since we can’t cover every single change we made to every style, we now offer CONCRETE GARMENT MEASUREMENTS on every single product page! Signature Products will have them on launch day, and they’ll be up for WWC in the next few weeks! This has been a long time coming, and I’m so glad it’s finally here. We wanted to perfect our shrinkage and really get precise with our construction before generating a measurement library, and we’ve done it! This will allow you to compare the size of new garments to ones you currently own to determine your best fit.

Since I know y’all will want to be prepared to shop tomorrow, I have a few tips for navigating our new sizing:
- Review the new size chart. With our slightly adjusted base size and new grading, your size may have changed. Your ES size may be different than it is in other brands; that is totally normal!
- When you measure yourself, pull the tape measure snug - snugger than feels normal! The measurements need to reflect your accurate physical body measurements. We account for wearing ease in the pattern of the garment. You don’t need to pad your measurements.
- Trust your new size on the chart. Since we sized down many of our base patterns, you shouldn’t need to size down - unless you want to do so to achieve a different fit!
- Compare measurements of garments you currently own to the garment measurements listed on the product page.
- Check out our brand new Sizing Guide! It’s full of information to help you nail down the right size.
- The sizing updates are site wide. We have updated our WWC patterns to reflect the new sizing so you don’t have to keep track of which size you prefer in one collection vs. another!
- Read the updates on each product page. I noted any major pattern differences right there for easy reference.
- Email our support team for help! We have done an in-depth review of our new sizing with the whole support crew, and they are ready for action!

Operations

The launch of Signature Generation 4 will likely be our largest yet, and we have been working our tails off to adequately prepare. Our operations team has effectively doubled in size, our workflow has gotten tighter and more precise, and our fabric inventory is quite literally taking over the building. We have a major renovation in progress, adding 5,000 square feet to our already 10,000 square foot warehouse in order to make more room for our growing team. We had a timeline for reducing our lead time in preparation for this launch, and our crew has hit every milestone. Basically, WE READY.

Now, that doesn’t mean we are superheros. We are certain that with Signature Generation 4 we don’t want our lead time to skyrocket like it did with the Warm Weather Collection. We want to be able to maintain a 3-5 week lead time throughout the rest of 2017, and then reduce it further next year. In order to do that, we have mapped out our team’s capacity in granular detail, and we know exactly what we are capable of producing given our current team and the amount of fabric we have in inventory. We’ve determined that we can successfully cut, sew, and ship 2,800 garments ordered in the month of November with a 3-5 week lead time (which means all launch orders will arrive safely by Christmas!). If launch orders meet that capacity, we’ll stop taking new orders until December 1st. We’d then be able to take new orders again in December, still with a 3-5 week lead time! No increases! WOO!!!! If we happened to reach our December capacity, we’d stop taking orders again, and so on. We don’t think we’ll hit our capacity outside of launch/holiday scenarios, but regardless - our goal is simply to maintain a 3-5 week lead time through 2017 and to begin reducing that even further in the new year.

You may be wondering how we determined what our capacity was going to be. We chose to prepare for a launch of a certain size (2,800 units, by far our largest yet) and no larger because that is what we feel comfortable with. We’ve added lots of new members to our team, our building has changed quite a bit, and our cash flow can only handle purchasing so much fabric up front. Growing responsibly is not something I’m willing to negotiate, and our team’s stability and work environment are precious to me. We chose a capacity that stretches us a bit but doesn’t push us into growing too quickly. We feel really great about tackling a launch of this size, and I am absolutely thrilled to be able to guarantee that our lead times won’t increase. This strategy will allow us to prepare our team mentally and physically, manage our inventory effectively, give you accurate and reliable updates on your order (when we continue to take orders beyond our capacity, those predictions get harder and harder to make), and maintain the closeness between the time you place your order and the time our team starts working on it.

Just like our sizing changes, this may affect how you shop. A few notes below:
- If you would like to receive something by Christmas, you will want to order it early on. All launch orders placed in the month of November are guaranteed to ship in time for Christmas. We aren’t sure when we'll reach our capacity for November (that depends on all of you!), but it could be quickly, so if you’re set on something keep that in mind.
When we reach our capacity in November, don’t forget that we’ll be accepting new orders again on December 1st! It won’t be long. December orders will ship in 3-5 weeks, with most arriving early January. We cannot guarantee early December orders will ship in time for Christmas.
- Our capacity only affects our made-to-order garments - there are still lots of other wonderful products that are in stock and ship quickly, which is great if you’re looking for a gift. Our shoes, knits, and gift cards will all be available! We may even have a restock of a certain beloved sweater coming this season. ;)
- If you don’t get a chance to order in November, do not fear! That’s the beauty of this collection. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The styles launching tomorrow will be available indefinitely, and it will be at least a year or more before we start talking about Generation 5. There is no need to rush - take your time, get familiar with our new sizing, talk with our support team, think about your purchase. These garments will be here when the time is right.

Thank You

So, that about wraps us up. Whew! I didn’t realize I had so much to tell you - we’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to stop and check in. I am so proud to see Generation 4 come to life. I hope that you love the new pieces as much as I do, and I hope that the small details feel as special and considered to you as they do to me. The Signature Collection is a true labor of love; it’s the work that feels the most representative of my vision and passion. Thank you for supporting it. Thank you for believing in it. Thank you for sharing in my excitement about it. I wrote the passage below about the Signature Collection a few years ago, and it still feels like the best summation of why it’s so special to me:

“What we choose to put on our bodies repeatedly is both an expression of how we internally define ourselves and simultaneously influences how we express those internal beliefs. I want to play an active part in shaping the story clothing tells about the modern woman. That we are powerful, intelligent, caring, confident, and above all, have personalities, desires, talents, and abilities that are only highlighted and enhanced by the clothing we wear. Clothing that enables us to live life fully, comfortably, without self-consciousness or doubt.

To create foundational, seasonless, versatile, well-engineered, functional garments that tell a positive story about who we are and what we believe - that is the aim of the Signature Collection. An aim that has developed over time with your support and guidance, and careful editing and restraint to not let this collection grow too quickly or too slowly, or to ever fail to meet its own self-set standards. Your encouragement and validation of philosophies that inspired a single collection have made those the philosophies that I now apply to our entire business, to everything I design.”

 

P.S. The November launch is just the beginning of Generation 4. There is more to come in 2018, and I think you’re gonna love it. Think more colors, a few new silhouettes, and riffs on some absolute favorite styles. I’m still very much working on it, so I can’t share too many details just yet, but I’ll be able to so soon. Maybe after a quick nap.

Shop Signature Generation 4 >