The potatoes in your Thanksgiving mash will come from the farmers market down the block, and you prefer locavore restaurants to chains. So why shouldn’t the clothes you wear (and the holiday gifts you buy) also be made nearby, or at least in this country?
A passion for homegrown fashion and decor propels Thread at Dock 5, a pop-up retail event at Northeast’s Union Market from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. On the artsy food market’s second level, 40-plus vendors will sell jewelry, clothing and shoes crafted in the D.C. area, elsewhere in the U.S. or, in a few cases, made ethically abroad.
“People are becoming more conscious about where their clothes come from,” says Anthony Lupesco, founder of Shockoe Denim, who’ll sell the men’s and women’s jeans ($195-$235) he and his parents meticulously produce in a snug Richmond factory. (Visit their Virginia headquarters, and you might spot seamstresses whirring at machines or Anthony’s mom, Brigitte, ironing pockets before they’re stitched onto pants.)
Other vendors show a similar passion for design and craftsmanship. Textile artist Rebecca Atwood produces all of the marbleized, striped or tie-dyed fabrics for her boho pillows ($150-$300) in Brooklyn. Cooperatives in rural Guatemala weave colorful textiles for Mercado Global’s weekend bags ($328). D.C.’s own Cameron St. Clair Archer meshes African trade beads, rough-cut stones and brass to form necklaces ($58 and up).
Yes, in many cases, “not made in a horrible factory in China” translates into steeper costs for goods. But the unusual, artisanal qualities of such homegrown and fair-trade products should appeal to the same sort of conscious consumers who plop down $20 a pound for organic, grass-fed beef downstairs at Union Market.
“American and fair-trade garments are priced higher,” says local vintage clothing dealer Lisa Rowan (of Brookland shop Analog), who is writing her master’s thesis on bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. “But if you’re at an event like Thread, talking to the person who made that bag or jeans, it seems like more value than going into a store.”
In fact, Union Market powers intend this to be the first fashion pop-up of many. “In retail, so much is available now that people are moving back toward quality and design,” says Jodie McLean, president/CIO of Edens (the real estate company behind Union Market), who helped to spearhead the event. “They want connections to what they buy.”