Colette

Behind the scenes with Walden

23

bags-walkingbw

We first experimented with men’s patterns a few years ago when Negroni came out. I’ve always meant to do more, and people have certainly asked for them.

But I’ve never quite felt right about the way it mixes with the ladies’ patterns. I mean, the packaging was pink. NOT that there is anything wrong with men wearing pink, but it was pretty disconnected from the aesthetic of Negroni.

So it was time for a little refinement. We decided to add a couple more patterns for guys, and make them usable and wearable for women too. They’d need a new look and a bit of new branding.

The design process

Kristen and I worked together on the initial designs.

We decided we wanted to do a piece of outerwear to go with Negroni, since we were releasing in the Fall. We researched several classic jacket and coat styles. I loved looking through Japanese men’s fashion and street style magazines, because they are obsessed with details. And I love that they show real men holding coffee cups and pushing baby strollers.

albion-inspiration-01

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We finally decided a duffle coat made a lot of sense. It could be simplified easily, would work as both a coat and lightweight jacket, and looks awesome on men and women alike. (My second choice would have been a simple raglan mackintosh, which I still really want to do sometime.)

I also started spending more time on menswear blogs, especially those that focus on traditional and classic clothing. The interesting thing about menswear is that the styles are so much more constrained. It’s the little things that matter, like the choice of cloth, the details, the notions, the stitching. It appeals to me.

coat-sketches-01

Kristen also had the idea of doing a bag. It took some convincing for me, because it’s so different from what we’ve done before. But after thinking about all the options and how fun it would be to play with, I was convinced.

bag-sketches-01

Since bags are new territory for us, we decided to get help from a pro bag maker. Laura has a post about her design process here (and why it was a LABOR of love… ha!)

We tested the bags thoroughly. We had our fit model try them on, and Kristen even rode Sheli’s bike up and down the hall with Cooper on the rack, to make sure it would work on a small-framed bike.

tyson-backpack

kristen-mounting-bike

kristen-riding

The branding

Sheli was in charge of the branding.

I created moodboards to explore the aesthetic we were after, which is basically inspired by where we live, the Pacific Northwest. A dash of vintage, a bit of woodsiness, and a lot more manliness than we’re used to around here at CP.

walden-moodboard

Sheli created the hand drawn logo. We wanted something with a vintage, hand done feel, but not too girly. Not an easy task, it turns out. She also picked a color palette, choosing pantone swatches that would work well on the kraft stock.

logo-sketches-01

Sheli also worked with our printer on the packaging, choosing a heavier weight kraft paper stock for the cover, but keeping the overall shape and design of our original patterns. When our printer showed us a sample using a semi-hidden spiral binding, we all swooned. Kenn went to work sourcing a local bindery. We found it would be a little more costly for us, but we all decided it would be worth it for you guys to have instructions that actually lay flat.

cover-proofs

pantone-ink-draws

The photo shoot

Oh, the photo shoot.

Many of you have admired our lovely male model, Jacob. Let me tell you, it is not easy to find the right male model.

First of all, though Portland is awash in handsome rugged men, it is also athletic wear central, with companies like Nike and Adidas and many others near by. So the market for models tends to lean toward the sporty. We had to look at a lot of pictures of clean-cut, hairless, athletic guys in their underwear before we found the right man for the job. Think Abercrombie catalogs. Not quite our thing.

We wanted a guy who looked more like your typical beardy-weirdy Portlander, and we found it in Farmer Jacob. Yes, Jacob is a berry farmer by trade. He owns an emu, or so he told us. This was his second modeling gig ever.

01-shooting-jacob

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albion-hood

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negroni-pocket

Our lady model… didn’t show up. After some frantic phone calls to various agencies, and even one desperate call to our gorgeous sample sewer (who was too busy), the beautiful Zoe showed up to fill in. We couldn’t have asked for a more lovely lady.

Shooting two models at once was a new experience for me, and not without its challenges. It required a lot more direction, especially since our models had such great chemistry and got very chatty. Ha!

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jacob-eyes-closed

Also, there are twice as many pictures in which someone’s eyes are closed.

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Our real inspiration

Finally, here is the namesake of our Cooper bag. He lives with Kristen and is clearly enjoying his new bag empire.

cooper-kitty

Thanks Coop!

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 23

Julia greencoffeepot.blogspot.com

Lovely insights! I love the aesthetic you have gone with, very appealing. The coat is lovely, may have to make my first foray in to outerwear! So many gorgeous sewing patterns, so little time!

Colleen

This was so much fun!

Emilie LG pinterest.com

Thank you so much for this sneak peek behind the scene ! It’s sooooo interesting to discover the whole process you went through !
I wish I could have such an interesting job :-D
Congratulation for your success, it’s definitely well deserve after the amazing work you guys did these past months !

Katrin

I already ordered the Cooper pattern and will order the Albion pattern as well. When I showed my husband the pictures he just said: “Approved!” And now he keeps on asking when his bag and jacket will be done… And he wants his jacket to be made in oilcloth, same as the bag. By the way, he said the male model looked very manly and good, probably because he has the same beard as my husband. So, great patterns and great choice of model!

Melissa

I love sneak peeks like this & Farmer Jacob is quite the cutie too. ;) Good pick… on the models & the patterns. :)

Natacha

Cooper looks a lot like one of our cats and they also loooooove to spend time on our stuff :-)
thanks for the insight. When exactly did you start the process on those two new patterns ?

sarah sky skyandlady.com

Thanks so much for the behind the scenes look at all the details that go into what y’all make. AND for bringing it back home to coop. I know my cat would love it if i started a bag empire too.

Caroline 4-sisters.blogspot.com

I am in love with this coat. And the berry farmer. Hubba Hubba!

Donna

I love the behind the scenes posts you guys do.

I know you were inspired by Walt Whitman, but introducing “Walden” with a guy who looks an awful lot like Ashton Kutcher in his first episode of Two and a Half Men, made me think of that first (yes, the character’s name is…Walden!)

Cooper is very empire-worthy, but I have to ask something about him. Is he ever known (even out of his hearing) as “Cooper the Pooper”? I have know dogs, horses, and even a rabbit named Cooper, and they all acquired that appellation at one time or another.

Now I’m wondering where the inspiration for Albion comes from. All you other patterns were either food/tea or plants (or both).

Betty Jordan Wester nouvellegamine.com

Albion is another name for Great Britain. Some people think it’s connected to “earth,” or “white.” i.e Dumbledore’s first name is “Albus,” which could refer to his connection to Britain or his long white beard.

Maybe there’s an Albion on Portland? I can’t wait to see what they say :)

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Nope, you are correct. Because the coat is inspired by its origins in the Royal Navy, we thought a reference to GB was in order. Plus, the word is nice.

Wikipedia has a nice short article on the duffle coat (or “duffel”), including mentions of Paddington Bear, Belle and Sebastian, and Andy Bernard (!)

Kristen

Oh yes, Cooper Pooper of Coopie Poopie is among his dozens of nicknames!

Sarah sewcraftlive.wordpress.com

How fun! These behind the scenes posts are so interesting. I love the aesthetic of the packaging as well.

Betty Jordan Wester nouvellegamine.com

Thanks for the behind the scenes! The Walden color palette is totally my style. I love woodsy, Autumnal colors. The Albion fits my husband’s style perfectly!

Jeni stitchesoftheuniverse.blogspot.com

Knowing that the Cooper pattern was named for an adorable cat just makes me love it all the more, for some reason. It’s so cool seeing a look into how the branding came about and all the research and details that go into this!

Elisabeth projectreclaim.wordpress.com

I am super stoked that you guys are branching out…I love this new coat pattern and I have to admit that while I am not a bag-making person this one is growing on me! Also, of course, Jake the Berry Farmer/Model is a lovely addition, too.

Patricia stenaros.blogspot.com

I love your patterns, but I really love this behind-the-scenes look as to how a pattern comes about. Very interesting.

Susan

May I ask where the photo shoot took place? It’s beautiful. So green! Is it in/near Portland?

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Yes, it’s Forest Park in Portland, one of the largest urban forests in the country. It is indeed very, very lush and green!

Bec Stitches becstitches.blogspot.com.au

Nice to see the train of thought. Feel free to send the Abercrombie types this way….

Donna niddetissus.blogspot.fr

I love this post – thanks for sharing more about the inspiration and process behind the products. :)

Heidilea heidilea.livejournal.com

My MIL had a cat named Cooper—she turned up as a “teenager” in her tree when she brought my husband home from Cooper Hospital in Camden (he was 7 and had a Grand Mal Seizure). She was an obnoxious thing, but we loved her. She died on my husband’s 25th birthday.

Izy

On my what a well done process. I can’t wait to develop more skills & try outer wear & the satchel. It’s so neat. I can totally see myself using both on a daily basis.
I like how you have come up with needed items for your customers to make. Thanks guys keep up the good work!

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