Prior to this trip I had never been in an embroidery studio before, and did not know what to expect. Initially walking in, I never would have expected that this very cramped and warm place with people hand-beading, and machines working would produce designer items. Madison’s aesthetic was very unique with colored hair in a particular bob, but it was very fitting for the setting. It was surprising to know that they typically work for at least 14 hours a day, not getting paid overtime. But the long hours made sense once we heard some of the designers’ names that they work with. Names included Marc Jacobs, Ralph Laure, Juicy Couture and Tom Rain. We even saw one of Marc Jacobs interns come in and drop something off!
Initially walking in the space was very small, and right along the main wall were hundreds of different embroidery techniques on sample pieces. It was almost overwhelming to look at all of them since they were not organized in any particular way. There are so many different creative embroidery techniques, which also leads to the skills needed for this job.
From just taking Softlines analysis this past spring, some of the vocab that Madison was throwing out did sound familiar to me. She informed us of a long list of stitches and techniques that would be needed to be able to even apply to work here. Tasks include anything from sewing on embellishment, sorting metals, knowing the different variations of a chainstitch, and all of the other classes of stitches, as well as mending, and so much more. The machines were remarkable seeing what technology can do for the apparel world these days. Even the laser cutter could cut through almost anything. It was interesting as well to see techniques such as putting an embellishment on foam to save money vs. stacking a bunch of fabrics on top of each other.
Education: Education needed would be an apparel and or textile emphasis bachelor’s degree. The detail with Softlines is crucial, especially with how fast paced everything is in the embroidery studio. Another critical skill set that is needed for this position is to know how to construct a garment, as each step and piece is very important when working with high end designers. Especially when seeing the workers, there did not seem to be much instruction, one woman was beading a large piece of fabric and just looking off of a picture of what the finished product should look like. Lastly, a knowledge of fabrics and their abilities is also needed.
Why this is important to the fashion world: The fact that runway just is not practical. The Embroidery Studio works with anyone from independent designers to huge names in fashion. They can make a $10.00 shirt to a $10,000.00 shirt. Embroidery is used on every level of fashion and it will always be a crucial element in design.