May 23, 2015

Sew New: The Factory Opens in SoMa

When a new space dedicated to fostering the success of independent designers through local production methods opens up shop with its own in-house label to boot, you know we’re going to drop everything and pay attention. Such is the case with The Factory, a new SoMa spot where designers can have their lines produced and sewn and shoppers can come for original apparel made in collaboration with local names such as Louisa Parris, Zoe Hong and Apres Collective.

Opening its doors last Thursday just in time for the launch party of upstairs neighbor Code salon (more on this intriguing space to come…and soon), the multipurpose destination is the latest from fashion entrepreneur and Bay Area resident Jennifer Evans, who was once involved in the Made in Oakland project and also operates a Los Angeles fashion production house that caters to high-end, independent labels and has worked with such names as Society for Rational Dress, Vince, Geren Ford, Splendid, Ella Moss, Heidi Merrick and many others.

The idea, Evans tells us, was to offer domestic fashion production in a way that’s financially viable, both for Evans and for the designers who use her company’s services, which range from design development to patternmaking and sewing. To that end, Evans came up with the idea for the house label, which ensures that her staff of seamstresses and patternmakers always have work (unlike many in the industry whose jobs disappear during down times in between seasons) and offers her clients, many of whom are small volume designers, the chance to have their work sold through her retail shop via design collaborations.

The retail component holds much appeal for shoppers who appreciate independent, locally-grown apparel.

“They can have something made specially for them, and they can see unique, one-of-a-kind design from pretty sought-after designers,” Evans says.

The Factory label currently ranges in price from $70 for a silk tank top to about $400 for a tailored coat. Current design collaborations include work with nationally-recognized local Louisa Parris, as well as Zoe Hong, Apres Collective, Carly Orr and Wyatt Orr, among others. Depending on the garment, apparel may be purchased off the rack or made-to-order. What hangs in the shop at the moment is for women, but menswear is expected to be part of future collaborations. Monthly events to introduce shoppers to new collaborations and local designers are in the works.

As for designers, Evans specializes in high-end, small volume production and works with established labels and newcomers alike. Even fashion novices with little more than a sketch can watch their ideas turned into garments.

“Whether or not you’re a seasoned designer or just getting started, you can have your own design realized,” Evans says.

Want to pop in? The Factory is located at 370 4th St. (entrance on Clara) and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Photography courtesy of Aura O’Brien for The Factory