The Integrity of Woven Silk
Today, the Good Millennial team is excited to share the successful launch of our friend's innovative Kickstarter campaign — Dougherty Shoes by Colin Dougherty. In just one week, Colin has achieved 33% of his fundraising goal, significantly moving the needle for millennial entrepreneurs and fashion innovation. Before we dive-in, I have a quick personal story I'd love to share which closely aligns with Colin's efforts.
BESPOKE SUITING IN HONG KONG
Many years before I ever had a reason to worry about my suiting preferences, I always knew exactly what mine would look like. Not just the general color and style, but the exact fabric both inside and out. Walking through my parent’s closet one day as a little kid, I came across a suit that caught my attention — charcoal with barely visible teal and purple stripes. My dad told me that when he was visiting Hong Kong a few years back, he went to a world-famous tailor and had it made in just under three days.
Fast forward to fifth grade: I had the incredibly exciting opportunity to visit my family in Hong Kong, including my two cousins, Jingwen and Kaiyun. Fast forward again to my sophomore year of college: I studied abroad with Target Corporation at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and as it turns out, my supply chain professor and close friend, Dr. Michael Hasler, knew the owners of the tailor personally — Sam's Tailor.
At this point, I'd been waiting to visit this tailor for the better part of my life and here I was with my closest suits and the money I had saved up. Quickly after entering and meeting Ra$han — yes, he spells his name with a dollar sign — I quickly realized why this humble little shop has become so well-known. Lining the walls were pictures of world leaders and household names whom they've suited — all of the US Presidents, all of the Popes, all of the James Bond actors — and Bruno Mars had an appointment for a golden suit right after us that day.
As I began looking for fabrics, Ra$han walked over with Dr. Hasler and asked what I was looking for. My response was simply, "a charcoal suit with an indigo gantt plaid". Obnoxiously specific, I know. He immediately darted away without a word and returned with a box of Valentino fabric and flipped to a swatch which was identical to what I had running through my head for so many years — I was in shock. I'd never seen a similar fabric in-person or online before, yet here it was right before my eyes.
The true significance of creating the suit, however, was the experience choosing the silk lining. I was somewhat frantically searching through fabrics unsuccessfully when Dr. Hasler walked back over and said, "Why don't you pick a silk lining that matches mine? I chose purple and this blue matches yours perfectly." Although a small gesture, this was a meaningful point of connection between friends that will now last us a lifetime. After all, it's not every day that you purchase bespoke matching suits with your professor on the other side of the world.
INTEGRITY THROUGH FASHION
Creating garments and full ensembles is an incredibly personal process with countless nuances that even your closest friends might not pick up on — and I wouldn't have it any other way. Our matching suits, for example, will always be a point of connection that nobody ever sees because it's on the interior of the coat. In a world where the smallest details often turn into an Instagram #ad and #collab, maybe fashion is one of the few remaining ways to bring people together via analog instead of digital.
This insight immediately reminded me of the word "integrity" which I've always defined as "what you do when nobody is watching". There are personal decisions in fashion that you can make for added comfort and confidence to inspire a powerhouse performance throughout the day, regardless of what others think of you. When you break it all down, clothing is an expression of our inner beauty — it's how we communicate who we are inside of our minds to the rest of the world.
As you can imagine, my affinity for silks was reinvigorated a few weeks ago when a friend up North, Colin Dougherty, shared that he would be launching his own brand of loafers with customized silk-lined soles. Much like the interior of my suit, this was an added layer of both form and function which is specifically intended for the enjoyment of the consumer, not the consumer's daily audience.
"I started Dougherty Shoes a little over a year ago after returning from South Africa. We've incorporated 100% silk from Gladson New York Fabrics, the same silk that would be used for a $5000 suit. Gladson has been around since 1948 and is located right on Fifth Avenue in NYC. They are well renowned and have been successful in the business of creating exceptional fabric." — Colin Dougherty, Dougherty Shoes
Since launching the campaign just one week ago, Colin has already successfully raised one-third of his fundraising goal and tapped into a much needed area of innovation — accessible customization. In an era of self care, body positivity, individuality, and never-before-heard voices rising to the top of global media outlet, it's time for fashion to finally catch-up.
To the discomfort of the fashion industry, customization and lighting fast customer feedback loops enable consumers to tell brands exactly what they want — or literally create it ourselves stitch-by-stitch. I'm personally excited to brands like Dougherty Shoes enabling consumers to create their own analog connections through curated textures, fabrics, and stitching — just as Dr. Hasler and I did with our matching suits from Hong Kong.
I'm beginning to realize that Kanye's famous lyric, "I'm living in the future, so the present is my past", is ironically antiquated. Our generation is more interested in living in the present.