I mentioned this beautiful dress by Language of the Birds a while back, and my obsession has since only grown bigger. The sunnier it gets on this side of the world, the faster my heart beats when seeing the dresses that bring together the ‘east coast textile sensibility with pacific folk dress forms’. That’s why, today I’m sharing more about this wonderful brand (knowing you’ll fall in love too!)
We believe clothing for women should be made in the spirit of our creative, savvy and ruthless selves. Buy something you truly love and then wear it forever. Language of the birds
Now that there are more and more documentaries, articles, books, and global movements to expose the craziness behind fast fashion, slow, consciously made and purchased fashion gets its time to shine. Thankfully.
For Tsia Carson, owner of Language of the Birds, slow and sustainable fashion is very important. “I think the way we chose to overlook the way our clothes are produced from the fabric substrate to the tailoring is really problematic.”
That is why the unique patterns of the dresses and tops from her label Language of the Birds are hand screened using eco-friendly dyes in Rhode Island and San Francisco, which is all done by independent fabric printers. The dresses and tops are then sewn in the New York garment district.
“I am trying to make clothes where people know who made them, how they were made and where they come from. Of course this makes them more expensive but it also means their better made and the buyer is not contributing to the global exploitation of people in the needle trades. I know that sounds harsh but that’s the truth.” She explains.
“So I try to offer as much production transparency as possible. The more designers choose to do so, then more sustainable affordable production options will be created. Chicken vs egg.”
The bold patterns and unusual shapes of the first collection are inspired by the traditional Hawaiian dress forms including holomu’u, mu’umu’u and kappogis. Yes, that’s quit a mouth full, but you can imagine the beauty of the original pieces when you see the stunning modern versions made by Language of the Birds.
The branding is spot on, with a first collection created for ‘confident, dynamic women who demand pieces that are smart, unconventional and multi-season’ a.ka. YOU, am I right!?
The descriptions of the dresses for sale on the LotB website are equally sunny. My favourite pattern called July gets describes as: “July is a pattern we created to capture a hot summer night, a blanket spread out over the grass, a clear starry night and, of course, fireworks. Explosions abound!”. The hot summer night dress.. perfect!
Tsia is a partner in a graphic design firm, and as an avid crafter, she also wrote two books on crafting as well as being the editor-in-chief of Super Naturale. The jump into fashion was, like it often goes with great business ideas, out of a certain necessity:
“I couldn’t find dresses that I liked and was appropriate for both work and the weekend. I love bold patterns and easy materials like cotton. I started sketching and asking other women. It seemed like they had the same problem so I put together a little bit of money and started the business. I am the type of person who does a little research and then jumps into something so I am learning on the job. Mistakes are a great learning tool.”
Though Tsia is basically running LotB by herself, she says she couldn’t have done it without help.
“I received a lot of great help from my friend textile designer Gina Gregorio and had great insightful advice with a few consultant-friends who I know through my other work. And my husband, Doug Lloyd, has been my sounding board for business development. He has a great heretical perspective. I have been very fortunate to have so many people willing to donate their time to this crazy thing.”
Future plans to expand LotB are plentiful, including adding new styles and also expanding into other fabrics such as linen, wool and silk.
“I have been thinking about doing squares (pareos and Furoshiki japanese wrapping scarfs) and maybe some home goods. On the distant horizon I want to vertically integrate the business so at the very least the printing is in house to allow me more room to experiment. But this is really my first season so I am trying not to get ahead of myself”. And she concludes: “I would rather do something small and perfect than a bunch of stuff poorly.”