Meet Rachelle

 Rachelle Rose Barkhurst in her studio.  ("I made your clothes" sign courtesy of Fashion Revolution). 

Rachelle Rose Barkhurst in her studio.  ("I made your clothes" sign courtesy of Fashion Revolution). 

So often in fashion we become mesmerized by the advertisements and beautifully merchandised store fronts. But when trying on a garment, do you ever wonder who made it? Do you ever peek at the “made in..” label and wonder where it came from? I do.

The garment industry is currently composed of 80% women, so I can somewhat confidently say “She” made my garment. 97% of apparel sold in the U.S. was made overseas in developing countries so I can assume She and I have very contrasting lifestyles. But are we so different? We’re both somebody’s daughter, we both make clothes, we’re both hustling to make a dollar, we’re both trying to live our best life. I wonder about her, and I think you should, too.

Visantine chooses to make our clothing in the U.S. so we can collaborate with creatives in our community and humanize our production process.  We appreciate the disappearing crafts around the globe, sewing included. We encourage you to learn how to sew on a button or patch your jeans to keep your garment alive for as long as possible. We also want you to know and appreciate the makers: their hands created the garments representing you. The garments you will create memories in. The garments that touch your most intimate places....  

Meet Rachelle: she is an incredibly talented Laramie based designer and seamstress (she's been sewing for 20 years!). Rachelle and I ironically share very similar paths. We both studied at FIT in New York, studied abroad in Italy, came to Laramie with our Engineer partners, and developed similar opinions toward the ethics of our current fashion industry. She constructed the VISANTINE bamboo micro-stripe turtle necks in her beautiful ranch style studio, only steps away from grazing Alpacas in her back yard. We asked Rachelle some questions so you can get to know her a bit better….

How did you become interested in Fashion?

I became interested in fashion because of my mother.  I grew up in her store.  When she started carrying gowns, I started traveling to market with her at 13.  I grew up getting to know the manufacturers and designers.  I did some modeling for a brand called Scala at one of the markets and got to work with the designer, Rebecca, at that time.  I told her I was interested in Fashion Design and she told me to go to FIT, that it was the best design school in the country.  So, eventually, I did!

How did you learn to sew? Why?

My mother taught me to sew.  She also had a retail store that rented tuxedos and eventually sold gowns.  I grew up hemming pants, sleeves and doing a lot of repairs on tuxes.  And eventually repairing dressing and lots of beading.  I really learned construction at FIT.  It was not always easy and I was not always patient.  But making your own clothes is so much fun!

What is the oldest piece of clothing you own? Can you tell us a memory in it? 

A navy & red striped sweater from a thrift store.  I've had it for I think about 15 years...I can't get rid of it because it is SO soft!  I used to wear it out and now it is a piece I just wear around the house or to work outside in.  It has snags around the neck and some paint stains but I love it too much to give up.  I wish I could find a similar fabric to recreate it!  

What inspires you when creating a new design?

It always changes, but my constant is nature.  I’m usually inspired by the colors and textures. Currently, natural fibers and dyes along with comfort and wearability in Wyoming are what drive me.

What is your opinion of the current fashion industry? What would you change if you could?

I’ve slowly be distancing myself from the industry since I left NYC in 2007.  I love the creativity and admire what people are doing, but I really don’t want to be part of the superficial aspect. The further away I’ve gotten, the happier I’ve become when I design.  I really love designing here because I don’t feel so much pressure to be the best and most innovative brand.  I am just myself and I make clothing when I feel inspired and motivated.  I have learned so much by putting myself in a different environment.  In terms of change, I think fashion is waking up to a more sustainable way of design.  I hope that that trend continues and brands truly feel the responsibility of taking care of the earth and everyone involved in the process.  Ethical practices, from the people behind the production to the waste or pollution, should be more important than being the most daring designer on the runway.   

Do you find “american made” garments important? Why?

Of course!  We have spent the last 5 decades producing more overseas than we do here.  Most people do not appreciate what it takes to make a garment anymore.  We are slowly working back to people spending a bit more for quality over quantity.  I believe we would do ourselves and our country a great service to bring those jobs back to the US.  A huge part of my how I earn my living is through sewing, and it’s really great job.