Made in Canada: Breaking Down the Process
July 12, 2013
More and more we are learning about sweat-shop labour and poor practices in the fashion industry. This has led to increased interest in supporting clothing brands that are "Made in Canada", in fair and equitable environments.
Bergstrom Originals are made in Toronto Canada. But what does that really mean?
In this blog post on being "Made in Canada", we are going to shed some more light on how Bergstrom Originals make it from our design studio, through our local manufacturing process and into your closets!
Breaking Down the Process:
In the studio, inspiration evolves into drawings, test cuts and sample-making. For Christina, this process works in tandem with the next step, fabric sourcing. There is a constant buzz of new designs in the studio, as we keep our production running almost non-stop all year long. This keeps our creative energy going, and it keeps the cutting and sewing trades happy.
Each season a rich patchwork of fabric swatches come together in what will define the direction of the new collection. Sourcing involves everything from civilized meetings with European fabric mill reps in the studio, to digging through mounds of fabric bolts in Montreal's warehouse district. Our fabrics are not milled in Canada. This industry is pretty much extinct in our country. The fabrics which end up in Bergstrom Originals garments originate in either Europe or Asia.
When a design has taken shape, and a decision has been made to go into production, the technical work begins. The drafted sample pattern is hand-graded into our size range (which may depend on the specific style or fabric availability). Many hours of labour are involved in this stage of the process. Precision and speed are key. Each season, we improve upon certain cuts and styles to fit our customers better - we do see the fit on customers first hand in our retail store!
Communication is key for this step. Since we work with cutters and sewers outside of our studio, we need to make sure that all specific details are clear. A flawless sample is the best form of communication, and we do strive for this. Working out fabric usage and size break-down is an important mathematical and puzzle-like step. Aiming for low waste, and knowing what quantities of zippers, buttons and trim need to be ordered, are important to keeping things running efficiently.
With over 10 years of production under our belts, we've sorted through many production methods, to find a strategy that works for the quality level and quantities of our brand. We currently work with two Toronto sewing contractors. Cuts range anywhere from approximately 20 - 50 pieces per design. All of our local contractors quote, and are paid, prices that allow for equitable pay for all workers involved. The sewing studios are happy places, where workers enjoy a strong sense of community and a pleasant workplace. The most trying aspect of the limited production resources in Toronto, is the pressure that the fashion industry dictates for fast fashion, and pressured delivery dates, that create a stressful "crunch-time" with the sewers. Our strategy is simple: stay out of it, produce all year round - keeping our contractors happy with consistent and reliable pay.
Receiving, Stock Take and QC:
It's always exciting to see the newly created stock arrive back at the studio. Inventory control, quality checking, and labelling are important to the final presentation of the garments, and making sure that you are happy with your purchases! A powerful cloud based inventory management system, keeps our online and in-store availability in check throughout the season.