Boutique chicago

Halfstack Fall Issue Sneak Peek: Blooming of Sararose

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

Written by: Thom Olson as featured in Halfstack's Fall Issue
Visit Sarah Rose online:

Chicago ranks as kind of an interesting spot in the history of fashion. It’s not exactly a style less backwater. Marshall Field was one of the first to make Paris couture and designer garments accessible to the masses. Charles James’s childhood roots are tied to Chicago. Halston was a student of the School of the Art Institute. True, Chicago doesn’t have a fashion week. Trust me, it’s a bummer, but it is no slouch either way.

So, who are the new names of Chicago fashion?  Yeah – Maria Pinto. That’s an easy guess as she has been around for some time and has popped back up after a Kickstarter investment. Boris Powell, who is a dishy and handsome designer and has been on the scene for about 8 years, also comes to mind. Yet, there is another person whose name keeps percolating to the top — Sara Rose Krenger. Her line Stixs and Roses fills a niche where only a few have tread, but many would like to be a part of.  She sits comfortably in a balance between fashion and anti-fashion. Her work is not “out there” or “conceptual”, nor is it “ground breaking”. She is not Comme Des Garcons’s Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Yohi Yamamoto or Vivienne Westwood.

Her work is more likely to connect with the every day consumer. Yet, it is important to note, that she is VERY similar to those aforementioned designers in their philosophy of social consciousness. She is breaking new ground from that sense; virtually trailblazing as many design companies are starting to forge the ground of sustainability. It is similar to anti-fashion in the sense that the wearer doesn’t care about fashion, as much as they have higher priorities in mind like the world and it’s environment. Her fashion priorities center around economy, function, usability and having a garment that is sustainably made without creating an impact that lasts forever on the environment.

The fashion industry works hard to make instant fashion a reality to get the consumer to buy more.  Sara Rose is a designer who is about buying less. Stores like Zara and H&M build clothing with the idea that the garment will be worn for a couple of seasons and then be discarded— planned obsolescence. Their shoppers want the latest trend and are those people who constantly are actively searching out the next trend. The instant fashion shopper looks to the designer to be constantly developing new ideas to fill the insatiable appetite for something new and to fill the void of what they don’t have. These stores turn over the merchandise quickly like finely turned machines. In the case of Zara, the concept to sales floor manufacturing cycle can take as little as three weeks where others take a year and a half.

The trend ideas get refined with sale information providing the background information on what the shoppers are looking for. A pair of cranberry red skinny jeans may change in color to a brighter fire engine red before they go into a softer coral red. The jeans may then morph into a raspberry red if the trends and social media seem to point in that direction. These tweaks of color change incrementally to match shopper profiles and are projected to increase sales. Much of how the store is merchandised is directed toward the market that goes for the impulse buy. If the buyer doesn’t buy, the garment is a flop and is put on clearance quickly so a new concept can be brought in to inspire a shopper to crank open their wallet.

Sustainable or long-range ideas
Sustainability is not a factor in the equation of fashion – or hasn’t been. Only lately it has been in forefront of company’s minds as the result of economy causing people to respond and rethink how they buy. As consumers tighten their wallets from the downturn, there is more thought put into the economy of the garment. These thoughts started to develop from the standpoint of the economy of fabric and cutting out multiple garments that waste less fabric. A typical factory may have 85% usage, but that translates into 15% waste. Some retailers demand 92% usage from the manufacturer as a means of controlling costs. The focus point comes to the fibers and materials of the garment itself. A great example of this is cotton: it is horrible on the environment as it sucks up water and requires enormous amounts of pesticides to produce the final product. Cotton accounts for roughly 24% of the world’s insecticide market and 11% of the sale of global pesticides. It can take up to 2,900 liters of water to product a T-shirt. 70% of all water used globally is in the form of irrigation. In 2008, 2,890 billion litres of water was used in Pakistan to grow the cotton needed just to make products sold by Ikea – equivalent to the volume of drinking water consumed in Sweden over 176 years. Unrecycled clothing amounts about 5% of landfills use with Americans throwing out approximately 70lbs per person.

Some companies are experimenting with recycled cotton. Much like recycled paper; cotton can be used in a variety of ways. Sometimes this is in the form of pre-consumer and other times, post-consumer waste. Yet, it is important to note that fashion still is about getting a consumer to buy. Sometimes the economics play into the idea of paying less to the manufacturer so profit margins are the same or keeping a garment within a certain price point enticing consumers to buy it. Not buying, however, is not in question.

Enter Sara Rose
Her clothing designs focus on a philosophy that starts with the ideals of need and function. Part stylist, part designer, part manufacturer and 100% entrepreneur make up the whole of Sarah Rose. Sara Rose clients are mindful about looking good and also cognizant about keeping a wardrobe that is practical, cost efficient and has longevity. They are, as she puts it, “similar to myself. They are professional women.  They are extremely busy and extremely stylish. They care less about trend and are more concerned about style. They want to do more with less. They are often times vegan or vegetarian by choice and a little bit quirky, much like myself. ”

True to herself, she has learned to do more with less. Her former store and workroom was over 2000 square feet with half devoted to manufacturing. It was located on the Northwest side of Chicago. It was a large space but as she puts it “not exactly convenient or easy to shop at. It wasn’t unusual to have my customers parking their Bentleys in the funeral parlor parking lot next door.”

Her new space on Oak Street – while there is no parking — is a much more tiny and affluent neighborhood. Across the street from Tom Ford and Carolina Herrera, her new location is half the size, but is an efficient and economical use of space. Where she used to show at New York fashion week and was on a fashion circuit train of churning out collection after collection, she now has changed that cycle as well. “My collections reflect the needs of my clients and I center around what they need. Their needs dictate what I put in a collection and also my timeline. When I have a have a majority of my clients having the same wardrobe challenges, it guides me to put in what is essential and I react to it. Now, I turn out about a collection and a half or two collections a year.”

For the full article, check back Wednesday Sept. 17, 2014 to read the complete story in Halfstack’s Fall 2014 Issue. You can download the latest copy of the magazine at:

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