No one can deny that the world as we know it is ending.   The fear of being reduced to numbers, namely the numbers on our credit cards, is real and present. It seems too easy to get lost in the impersonal and intangible experience of the Internet world- especially in online shopping. We visit a website, pick out an outfit that looks good on someone else, and a few clicks and days later, a box arrives from who knows where. It’s all too simple, and anonymous, and isolating.

Now, there is one company that has fashioned the core of their business model to address just these issues. Sew Love is an Internet start-up based in San Francisco that aims to make and sell a collection of clothing that is “by the people, for the people,”  so to speak. The concept is that anyone with an idea for a unique garment, or accessory, just has to draw up his or her idea, and submit the sketch to Sew Love with a 200-word description of the design. Then, all the members of Sew Love vote on their favorites. Sew Love assesses the winning designs for the month, and then produces the choice design to sell on their website, giving the amateur designer royalties on the item’s sales, and their name on the tag.

Sew Love’s founders, Silvia and Sabrina Scandar, are originally from Miami, and have both been successful in careers that have little to do with fashion. Silvia was a lawyer in New York City, and Sabrina was a product manager at a tech company, but they’d been looking for something different; and as Silvia said in our conversation, “This idea just felt right.”  Doubtless, their previous career paths induced their refreshingly un-snobbish outlook on entering the industry of fashion: meaning, they approach it as just that-an industry. Silvia and Sabrina are very pretty, sophisticated brunettes. They want to wear clothes that make them feel conservative, or flouncy, or glamorous, or sexy, or edgy, and assume that other girls do too-so they’re giving that option to individuals who may not know anything about fashion design, and who wouldn’t have the time or know-how to make a piece of clothing, but know themselves enough to know exactly what they wish to pull over their heads, clasp around their necks, or buckle around their waists.

Silvia and Sabrina, Co-founders of Sew-Love

In the promotional video for Sew Love, inspirational button words flash across the screen in correlation to the meaning of “fashion,”  accompanied by a stirring strings track. The viewer is prompted to consider the inaccessible runways from which style is dictated, and then dribbled down to ordinary consumers, like revised spittle from the gods of fashion. Sew Love suggests that it is “time for something new.” 

For a fresh-eyed start-up recruiting craft-loving, presumably internet-savvy girls with a soft spot for dreaming up Saturday night ensembles on their waitress tickets, throwing revolutionary philosophies into the mix is a high bid. Still, it’s exciting. As a member, you really feel as if you are a part of something clandestine, outfitted in pastel shabby-chic fatigues.

And, like all good revolutionaries, it’s important that we ask ourselves the questions being presented, and to use opportunities in which we embrace small movements to best examine larger ones.   At the forefront: what is fashion? There are three likely responses to this query. The first would be that fashion is Art, which would branch off into a much more complicated dialogue on the relevance of “serious”  Art that requires “serious”  intellect and talent, and “serious”  visionaries to produce it, as opposed to Art as say, something that a stock-broker doodled on a bar tab. Or, is fashion merely an industry, the same as any other consumer-culture-kissing machine, from the Fall Couture lines to the sale rack at Target? The third suggestion is that couture designers are unquestionably venerated Artists, but the mating of their creations with everyday wearability (we have to fit through doorways after all) results in the bastard child otherwise known as style. And style is a word with myriads of connotations, one of the strongest being the very aura of a person: the way they carry themselves-from crossed legs or a level gaze, to their penchant for sheer cardigans and tie-dye tank tops. Of course, the clothing in which we dress ourselves is a huge part of our personal “style,”  and so whether the fashion industry adopted the term from us or we from them is a chicken-or-egg debate.

What we see swirling around us in today’s world is what inspires us as to how we wish to reflect ourselves back to that world, whether our responses are reactionary or mimicry in nature.   In this way, we-sketching “tulip skirts”  on notebook paper or scoop-backed evening gowns on Starbucks receipts-are not so different from the demi-gods of runway fashion, who draw inspiration from the very same events and icons and planet that we do.

Silvia with models wearing the first original Sew-Love designs: the Sheer Delight top (on left) and the Tulip Skirt (on right)

What is most potent about a brain-child like Sew Love, however, is not the redefining of an established idea. What is most inspiring about this company is their revival of an established ideal that many of us have forgotten: that token old-fashioned All-American inclusivity, with all its hope and belief for individuality within community, and infinite possibility therein. As Sew Love suggests, “Sew beauty. Sew power. Sew independence. Sew Love.” 

“Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.” Jean Cocteau, 1936

 Check out Sew Love’s recent event, where they teamed up with {r}evolution apparel to support the cause of sustainable materials and methods in fashion.

If you would like to become a part of the movement, support Sew Love’s Kickstarter Campaign, and be one of the first babes ever to own a fabulous Sew Love design.

All images courtesy of Silvia Scandar.