The Journey of a Dress – How A Designer Brings A Collection To Life
Before starting All The Wild Roses, founder Hang Osment-Le had a very different career as an insurance company finance manager. She was first inspired at just 19 years old to start the brand after making her first trip to her native Vietnam.
“All The Wild Roses is a way to pay it forward and share the opportunities I had with my extended family and the women in their community who work as seamstresses. I saw that they were capable of more but just did not have the access to opportunity and global markets, so I wanted to help them bridge that gap.”
When they started, Hang’s team could only make T-shirts and shorts, they have since expanded, learning by remaking vintage dresses Hang had collected.
“Without access to training and education we had to get creative about learning how to craft clothes and remaking vintage was our way to do it. The biggest challenge and the one that I am most proud of is that our team and I did not know anything about fashion, creating or designing, but we just learnt as we went along.”
With the launch of their beautiful new collection “Bohemia” (made from upcycled surplus fabric as well!) I caught up with Hang who shared with us what it takes to bring a dress to life, from idea through to a finished garment.
"We create clothes that have style and impact. That is, you can look good, feel good and do good, too."
Vietnam is where I come from and for me, the energy of the place is really created by the people. They are so vibrant, free-spirited and very determined. We have an amazing production team there, but it’s difficult as a small to medium business to work there. There is not a lot of support; in fact, there are more barriers and bureaucracy as they favour big corporations over micro-businesses. So we constantly have to seek more creative ways from a logistical point of view to provide work to our team in Vietnam in a way that is viable. But I love seeing the underdog win, so we keep at it!
We work as a team and so our seamstresses play the key role. We have a small team of 12 women. My cousin is the head pattern maker and seamstress, her sister is the head pattern cutter, and the rest of the team are made up of their close friends. All members of our team are mothers, so it’s a family business, and they really care for each other beyond just work.
That, for me, is the best part. They are part of all decisions from design, logistics, delivery and most of all they set their work and price for the work. My job is to work backwards from that and create designs that win for everyone along the journey of creating products that we are proud of.
For us, the design process starts with the fabric. We use upcycled fabrics, so as we hunt for fabrics, you never know what you’ll discover.
We let the fabric take us on the design journey, which is both challenging and exciting at the same time. Depending on the print, colour or fabric type we then dream up of the designs.
I am always dreaming of designs, shapes & fabrics. But the thing I think most of all is how I can make a design that is simple, timeless, effortless & feminine.
The design process is pretty organic & collaborative with our makers. They have a big influence on the final design, and I really love this aspect, because it evolves from an initial idea that often, is better than I imagined or designed it.
I always say it’s really easy to dream up designs, but our pattern-maker Thuy, is the person that provides the foundation for the design.
Pattern-making is a very meticulous art form which involves extreme precision, technical skills & patience, lucky for us Thuy has it in spades!
Once the pattern is made we make a sample of the dress to ensure the fit & details are right. Then we do a fitting of the dress (usually on me). Then there maybe 1-2 revisions on the initial pattern if necessary.
We really have a process where we take a lot of time in the design pattern-making process so that we limit the number of samples from a waste-reduction point of view as well.
After the pattern is created for the design, then we cut the pattern onto the fabric. This sounds like a simple process but each of our dresses is cut individually by hand & rather than machine cut.
The skill comes into cutting and placement to ensure efficient use of the fabric. Where we can we use the off-cuts to make detailing & accessories on the design.
Again to reduce fabric waste in the production of our designs.
We focus on small-scale production and produce to order and seasons to reduce wastage. So we produce small runs to line up with orders so we don’t produce excess stock or fabrics.
SEW & ARTISANSHIP
Our clothing artisans were trained by remaking vintage clothes, so at the core, we want to make beautiful clothes that last in terms of style and quality. The sewing process is where the garments come to life in a tangible way from a design and cut pieces of fabric.
The skill of our artisans is what will bring the quality in the construction to design. I call them the “magic-makers” as they do bring a design dream to life, they are the dream weavers!
Each of our designs takes between 1-3 hours to sew. Once assembled, the dresses go through finishing, where they are turned inside out and checked for loose threads, pressed and, finally, packed ready for shipment to Australia.
We use recycled packaging & carbon neutral shipping for all our freighting with Go Green DHL.
Once we have the product we do a photoshoot, with a small team of three, photographer, model & me (for styling/makeup & hair).
The theme for our shoot is very much an extension of our design philosophy, effortless and simple. So when it comes to styling hair and makeup of our models, we keep it natural and effortless.
DESIGN LAUNCHED & INTO YOUR HANDS
The designs then are uploaded online for you! No matter how many times we create new designs, I always get a bit nervous on the release of our designs, so there is that quote:
“When you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance” – it’s not just a quote it does happen 🙂
It is thrilling when something that you put so much heart and hands into creating goes home with someone that loves it too. I think that is where clothing and fashion has a unique place to create that connection between makers and the lives of women who invest in our designs.