For the love of a Chef Coat

The distance from concept to actual product Posted on 27 May 11:29 , 0 comments

Taken from Sandra Harvey's original blog post in 2011.

SANDRA HARVEY DESIGNS . The distance from concept to actual product

Its been a long process from the original concept to the actual product. Idea, sketch, school, marketing research and more.
As a designer I am really detail obsessed about getting the right fit, and so that required several sewing attempts with many alterations. I initially wanted to design a coat for women chefs, but that quickly changed to include the men as well. I wanted a design that would match the artistic flair they put into their food, but at the same time keep it simple and pure with respect to the tradition of cleanliness and form.
I personally made the coat for a few well respected female chef/owners of high profile restaurants here in Asheville, and fellow culinary student classmates, asking them wear it for a few weeks, and return with notes to me on a better fit.

I also felt a sense of urgency to a cause dear to my heart, Keeping Americans employed, so it is important that this be a American Made Product. My search for American sewing contractors was time consuming, since most everything is now made overseas...To do this I had to get on the road with only referrals to go off, requiring me to drive long distances around the Southeast from Georgia up to Virginia.
I was beginning to get discouraged realizing I might have to go back to Downtown Los Angeles where I am familiar with the process of pattern makers, graders, cutters, and sewing contractors, But that would also require me to move back to California.

I went to over 20 locations all over the Southeast...and was saddened to learn that over 4,000 apparel manufacturing factories have closed in the last 20 years, In 1996 there were over 2,100 textile mills here in North Carolina alone that went overseas, including Burlington, and Guilford mills. This caused a domino effect shutting down sewing contractors in every town, city and suburb. Searching for sewing contractors was a long and hard process.....But I did not give up, I felt inspired to continue my quest. The magic of this Beautiful state of North Carolina urged me further, I found daily inspiration from its people and their stories. North Carolina is the backbone of American Apparel, with a deep rooted History in manufacturing. I trusted my instincts and listened to the winds chanting as if voices from the past were whispering into my ear, leading forward, opening doors, I listened.

After several recommendations and referrals from friends and people who I have worked with in the Hospitality field, I finally found a factory on the Atlantic coast of beautiful North Carolina...a small sea village called Morehead City. The owner James Garner (Creative Outlet) is a wonderful man, his story goes back over 50 years, he has kept his factory running in spite of hard times, and his employees have stayed loyal to him over the years. I have been working with his contractor Mike Parker for several months.I stayed with him long enough to find Opportunity Threads, a worker-owned, cut and sew com­pany based in Mor­gan­ton, North Car­olina.

 I am proud to place the made in North Carolina name to my product, and that the first Chefs to wear the coats are here in Asheville, a Culinary mecca with a vibrant restaurant scene of over 250 Independent restaurants. Internationally known for its sustainability and farm to table freshness. Food here is a way of life.