Brook There

Brook There Invisible Hand

Finding quality, comfortable, hand-made lingerie is trickier said than done. Luckily for you and me, Brook There is here to fill that hole in your underpinnings/basics drawer. Founder and designer (and dear friend) Brook DeLorme chatted with me recently about what inspired her to start the line, what it’s like to run a business in Maine, and what peaks her interest – outside of fashion and textiles that is.

Q. You launched Brook There in 2007, what was your background in textiles/fashion that led you to start your own lingerie brand?

A. My background was mostly just love and fascination for fashion and fabrics. I started making clothing for myself when I was twelve, and was generally obsessed with sewing as a teenager. But, I never tried to enter the conventional fashion world. I did a couple of semesters at Savannah College of Art and Design (thinking I would enter their fashion program as a major) but transferred back to Maine College of Art where I studied sculpture and photography, and met Daniel, my husband and business partner (We also run Seawall http://www.seawallshop.com together). Having a background in art is liberating, but perhaps not terribly practical.

During the years after college, prior to starting the brand, I worked in a family business in the technology industry – which was a great way to become very familiar with web-stuff and more general aspects of business.

BrookThere_Christina_Jorro_and_Dusdin_Condren10

Q. You use incredibly soft organic cottons, silks, and wools. Where do you find your materials and why is organic important to you?

A. Our fabric suppliers and sources have been compiled over the past seven years in a very piecemeal way, for better or worse. Many of the fabrics we dye in-house, because there aren’t a wide variety of organic colors or patterns. The base of the collection is organic cottons, but we use supplementary non-organic silks, laces, and rayons to provide additional textures.

Similarly to our preferance for organic food, we source organic fabrics because we want to support organic farming practices and we’re conscious about what we put next to our skin. I grew up in the era before organic was popular – before organic certifications – but my parents still looked for organic and natural products, and we always shopped at the local health food store. Later on, family members started and worked on organic vegetable farms. We keep our studio and workshop on a piece of land that we share with an organic greenhouse operation.

There’s always been a hole in the market where organic cotton or wool clothing is concerned, because of the paucity of organic fabrics available to small designers. Designing with the self imposed constraints of using only organic fabrics can get really boring – hence, the supplementation of silks and rayons.

Q. You design, cut, and sew in your studio in the Greater Portland region of Maine. What do you value about being a business in Maine, and making your collections locally?

A. We work in a small town ten miles outside of downtown Portland, and live in the city. I feel a strong connection to the state, as my family has been here for many generations. Daniel, who grew up in Connecticut, was drawn here as a young man and managed to stay, despite the fact that most people in fashion in Maine really are earning their money in NYC. There is very little in the way of an internal economy for clothing design here, but people will figure out how to live here, and import the dollars, because of the quality of life.

Since we are very committed to producing in the USA, it only makes sense to try to make it work first within one’s local economy. We’ve several times done the exercise of “would it be better for us to produce in NYC/ Baltimore/ Fall River/ Los Angeles?” And, to date, it would not. It’s more efficient, easier, and rewarding to produce locally.

BrookThere_Christina_Jorro_and_Dusdin_Condren02

Q. Collection 5’s lookbook is absolutely stunning, who did you work with to make it a reality?

A. We found the amazing Christina Jorro (www.christinajorro.com) over Instagram – and immediately felt sympatico with her work. We started working together before even having met in person. Christina’s photos are often focused on women – I loved that her photos were sensual without being provocative – it’s always a fine line with lingerie.

What has made it even more intriguing is how, in many of the photos, Christina is in the frame, either through a tripod or a second camera. She included her good friend and photographer Dusdin Condren (www.dusdincondren.com) in the process, which has resulted in this many-layered photographer + model + self-portrait + second photographer set of pictures that we are just thrilled with.

Q. Who is the woman you have in mind when you are designing for Brook There?

A. Curious, iconoclastic. Sensual. Non-conformist. Intelligent. Question-asker. Seeker.

BrookThere_Christina_Jorro_and_Dusdin_Condren12

Q. You have an amazing personal blog as well that tackles all issues, and rarely fashion. What interests you most outside of developing Brook There?

A. Thank you, that’s very kind. It’s true, I don’t “think” very much about fashion. Daniel and I talk about the business endlessly, but beyond the practicalities of fabric sourcing and production, we don’t talk about fashion. The inspiration for making is something that is much more intuitive for us and needs no discussion.

For the past couple years I’ve been deeply involved with learning the Arabic language as a way to understand some middle-eastern cultural elements that- well- probably many Americans- find mystifying. Without immersion, learning a language which is as different from English as Arabic is quite time-consuming. Through seeking out native speakers in our area I’ve made some amazing friends, and having started another complicated book & writing project, all related to this realm. ore to come, probably in a year or two.

Otherwise, it seems I write about relationships and thought systems primarily. It’s always about trying to figure things out.

Thank you Brook for sharing! Photos are by Christina Jorro and Dusdin Condren.

BrookThere_Christina_Jorro_and_Dusdin_Condren13

Leave a comment

Filed under Style

Teaser: Shinola’s Black Blizzard

As I mentioned earlier this week, Shinola, A Continuous Lean, and myself will be at Steven Alan this Saturday celebrating Steven Alan’s 20 years of business. We’ll also be taking a peek at Shinola’s Black Blizzard Chronograph, an item I’m particularly eager to see. The Black Blizzard is inspired by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and more importantly the homesteaders that weathered the storm. Shinola’s first titanium watch is a tribute to America’s spirit and resilience against trials and tribulations. Only fitting for a ambitious brand that has turned our eyes and ears back to one of America’s most enduring cities, Detroit. To wet your appetites, I’m posting the teaser video here. If you want to see it in person before its November release, don’t forget to come by Steven Alan at 172 Newbury Street this Saturday, October 18th, from 2-4pm.

Shinola Black Blizzard Teaser from Shinola on Vimeo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Style

Shinola & ACL Salute Steven Alan

10612627_760982343959245_3160121865193113122_n

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Style

American Craft

10e2b503bdfc3325_large

Last week I stumbled upon this article “The old crafts find new hands” that was published by LIFE Magazine on July 29, 1966. The article touches on the American craft revival of the ’60s, “The whole movement runs startlingly counter to the drift of our times. Working with the simplest of tools (no electrics), using the oldest of materials (no plastics), tending all the work himself from design through execution, the American craftsman today is busier and more highly regarded than he has been in almost a century”. This statement rings as true then as it does today in a way. More and more artisans and craftsmen are working with their hands doing pottery, weaving, woodworking, metalworking, and more. And most importantly, they are receiving the respect support for their craft that they deserve. By buying a bag, bowl, or blanket that is hand-crafted by an artisan or group of artisans, you are supporting a movement that may always be present, but will need the support of the consumer to survive.

You can read the whole article here. All the photos in the article were taken by Nina Leen and show leaders in the American craft revival in the ’60s.

3cb66b129173ef51_large

e793defb1505cbbc_large

7f4d9092b888c6c5_large

Leave a comment

Filed under Style

Middlebury Robert Frost Film

frost_film_news

The Homer Noble Farm in Ripton, VT was Robert Frost’s summer home from 1939 to 1962. Just down the road from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Mountain campus, it was a short walk for his regular appearances at the Bread Loaf School of English and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Frost spent summers on his property gardening, hiking, tending to his animals, and writing of course. The Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives recently digitized this 16mm film footage (circa 1948) of Frost enjoying his idyllic Vermont summer home. Head to Vimeo to watch it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Style