Janice Martin Couture: Sewing Green into Philadelphia’s Boutique Apparel Scene

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The Greenest Gowns!

Janice Martin Couture designs classic custom clothing for women who appreciate quality, fit and fashion… which are all attributes that coincide with a more sustainable “European approach” to dressing.  Working with clients to create clothing which flatters their figure and reflects each personality allows for fabrics which are all natural, lighter in weight, more “breathable” than garments which are made from or lined in polyester/petroleum based textiles.  Because the clothing is made for a specific figure, and because each client’s fabric choices reflect her personality, clients have a love affair with the items designed which influences them to wear the items more consistently over time and the quality of the construction allows each piece to survive multiple cleanings… alterations… design upgrades, etc.  Only fabric needed for the client’s use is ordered, so there is little “over-run” and what is left as scrap is given over to students or quilting groups who make items for the homeless.  For those women who “amortize” the cost of a garment, the everyday suit becomes a great bargain.

Of course there are plenty of women whose experience with couture is only through the purchase of bridal and evening wear.  In that case, a garment custom designed at the local level leaves a smaller carbon footprint, keeps finely trained artisans in business and again, allows for better quality fit, fabrics and future use.  Many of the bridal gowns designed at Janice Martin Couture are designed with future use in mind so that clients can wear their wedding gowns to follow up events at the opera, other weddings, holiday parties, etc.

By far the biggest “green” wedding gown would be that of the re-designed heirloom gown…. many women have a family gown which may or may not fit or flatter the current bride’s needs… but knowing the right creative team allows the bride to recreate the gown in a myriad of styles that can make it truly her own —while honoring the family tradition.  It is possible sometimes to completely take apart a vintage gown and use the fabrics to design an entirely new style… or sometimes it’s a matter of tweaking what is already there… or rebuilding just the bodice or just the skirt.  It is possible to take a gown from a small size to large, shorter to longer (or vice versa)… add color, matching lace or contrasting trim.  The right imagination and skills can produce an amazing transformation.

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(Before re-design and alterations)

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(After re-design and alterations by Janice Martin)

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Family textiles may also be the result of far-flung travel.  Numerous clients have purchased “souvenir textiles” that have been sitting unused on a shelf for years from which we have designed a variety of separates (African kente and mudcloth), evening and bridal wear (sari fabric), and sportswear from Kashmiri cashmere.

When our clients are out and about in a great style that transcends trends and are still getting compliments on an item designed 25 years ago the return on investment continues to please.  When a bride walks down the aisle in a gown that has connections with mothers, grandmothers, aunts, siblings or even a close friend, the sentimental value and joy are multiplied.  When being “part of the process” allows a gown to “evolve” with input from the client, it produces a gown much more special and flattering than any item found “off the rack”.  All of which contribute to a clothing philosophy of long lasting beauty, joy, utility and value.

Archival / Long Term Storage for Textiles

Storing textiles, fabric, leathers and feathers, etc. in plastic has proven to be a poor choice for the long term health of materials.  Better to store that heirloom gown in a cotton sheet, or the Ty-Bag, an archival garment bag made to measure by Janice Martin Couture.  These garment bags may be used for transporting a gown to/from an event… or for long term storage thus alleviating the need for a space hogging box that is often NOT truly acid free.  As long as the materials are stored in an area that is “not too hot/not too cold, moist, dry, etc” (if you are comfortable, so are your textiles is one way of judging the situation), your garments can be stored and worn safely for years to come.  The Ty-Bag is made from archival muslin or Tyvek, depending upon the client’s preference.  The muslin bag can be washed every few years to remove dust and an inspection of the materials stored therein made… Tyvek is an inert product used by museums for long term storage and needs no cleaning.  That is not to say that Tyvek cannot get wet however.

For the bride marrying in “iffy weather” Janice Martin Couture has designed a bridal rain cape out of Tyvek —it is lightweight, takes up little space, allows for gown protection, can be used as a drop cloth for photo shoots on wet pavement or grass… and can be used after the wedding as a cover for the gown to keep dust off for long terms storage.  For questions or to order, please contact http://www.janicemartin.net

Go Green (All Natural), Wear Green (Redesigned Heirloom Gowns), Save Green (Money)

For the quality conscious woman who knows what looks well on her… who may not like to shop… but does like the creative input allowed by the process of custom clothing… a wardrobe update may be as close as “closet shopping”…a trip to her own closet may produce a number of things which need to be purged, but may also discover favorite items that need a tweak to make them current, wearable and beautiful again.  Among the items clients have brought to Janice Martin Couture are heirloom wedding gowns and evening wear too cherished to give away.  Besides redesigning a vintage wedding gown into one a contemporary bride would wear, we have designed cocktail dresses, sun dresses, christening gowns…. even jackets, bustiers, pillows, baby quilts and clutch purses from family gowns that otherwise may have languished sadly in disuse.  It’s a great way to “lighten the world” by clearing out storage space, bringing to light beautiful textiles and re-utilizing heirlooms that are joyful connection to family history.

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One response to “Janice Martin Couture: Sewing Green into Philadelphia’s Boutique Apparel Scene

  1. Really well written and you look just stunning btw..

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