Spinning plates

The long and short of all is this is developing garments, making garments, and selling garments. Those are the three plates to spin. One plate spinning on its own is too few. Having two plates on the go — making and selling, say — is the norm. And, twice a year, all three must be spun, with plate-RPM at considerable velocity, at the same time.

The first month of the year — i.e. right now — is one such time, as it was last year, to a lesser extent, and to a lesser extent again the year before. The extent-level is higher this year. More garments, more stores in Japan, and more space — the workshop — in which to meet customers. Japan wants garments to see it through spring at the end of the month. The rest of the world is not far behind. The shirtmaker, outerwear factory, and knitwear maker, then, are doing what they do best with some haste. And making does not stop there. Every garment must undergo stringent quality control — not checking one in ten garments, or one in five, but one in one — which means every thread and button-hole must be neither seen nor heard, and make must not err a millimetre from pattern. This is a time when know-how — spotting an inadequate collar on a rail of jackets at ten paces and so on — comes in useful. Saves plenty of time does know-how.

Right now is also a time of much development. Ideas summoned from within and put down onto paper — then worked into patterns. The wisdom of some of the best-school pattern-cutters in the city is put to good use here. Not all garments in development right now are new; some are evolutions of existing garments. This year, not only are more garments in development, but there is more to each garment. More complexity. Complexity is not to say complicated; not to say more pockets or outerwear configurable two-dozen different ways. But it does more comform and functionality — mostly invisible to the eye — delivered through devious and at times daring pattern-cutting.

Then there is selling. The workshop — all 100 square feet, one shelf, and seven pegs — has been HQ now for twelve months, and over that time open most weekends. The workshop, being only three crow-flown miles from where most of the above is taking place, has this past year justified its rudimentary, functional existence many times over.

Here, then, to another year of more but better of the same. The first garment into bat is the Ventile hooded jacket. Next week is the plan. Following soon thereafter is the new Kelly collar shirt, reformulated by the masterful Kent shirtmaker, and the herringbone-cotton cardigan, made on the single-bed machines of the hand-framed knitwear maker.