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Meghan Evans could never find tall sizes that fit properly, so she decided to launch her namesake apparel company. She designs and manufactures her clothes here in D.C. You can shop her latest collection at meghanevans.com.
You started an apparel business for tall sizes. Can you tell me about its origin?
I launched Meghan Evans the brand in August of 2017. At first it only included tall sizes. I’m 5’10”. I’m long torsoed. So, I struggled with finding tops, dresses, blazers, jackets—anything that is dependent on torso length. Brands, like mega-brands, started offering tall. For example, Madewell offers tall and taller jeans, but Madewell does not offer tall tops or dresses or jackets. I felt like there was this continual evolution in offerings for tall pants but not necessarily tall tops.
I would buy dresses that I knew were too short for the sole purpose of taking them to the tailor and having them cut them off and turn them into tops. I would get lots of questions about like, “Where did you get that top?” And I would be like, “Well…”
“It’s a dress!”
“You can’t buy it as a top, but you can buy it as a dress!” My husband was like, “Why don’t you make clothing that actually fits you from the get-go?”
“That sounds like a great idea! But I don’t know how to sew and I don’t know anything about this.” So I started looking into what it would take. I found a small run production company here in the District. That’s how I got started.
How are you doing apparel production in D.C.?
She’s a small run production studio out in Langdon … I work primarily with the owner. Her company, Pattern Sample Sew, is my small run production company in the city.
Where do you source your fabric?
The garment district in New York, and I also attend trade shows. I use a lot of deadstock. I’m not exclusively deadstock, but I do try and prefer to work with deadstock.
Can you explain what deadstock is?
Yeah, so when a mega fashion house purchases yardage, they might buy—this is just a random number—10,000 yards of that fabric. They may use 9,500 and decide to stop production. They may use 9,900 and only have 100 yards left over. A lot of that fabric ends up in landfills. They just dump it if they can’t sell it—it’s not worth the hassle of selling it for them. They are buying in such large, bulk quantities directly from the mills that it’s kind of a loss for them. So, I try to purchase that leftover fabric so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill or somewhere else.
Why is it important for you to use deadstock?
One is the environmental benefits. The process by which fabric is made is extremely draining on our natural resources. It takes a lot of water, it takes a lot of natural resources to actually produce the fabric. It’s expensive to make it, and then fashion houses throw out whatever they don’t use and don’t want to deal with. For somebody who is a small designer, it gives me access to really awesome fabrics in smaller quantities that suit my needs. It just opens up a whole lot of doors for me. I’m able to get these, for example, from Italy or France that maybe I couldn’t get because I don’t have the direct contact with the mill and I’m not going to buy 10,000 yards and ship it over. So the types of fabric and the environmental benefit are two huge driving forces for me.
Have you found a community of designers here in D.C.?
Yes! It’s amazing. I didn’t know there were so many of us. And it’s been growing. I actually recently started a Facebook group called DMV Designers to connect primarily with apparel designers, but also jewelry and accessory designers. And I’m just—I’m blown away with the number of designers that are based in D.C. They are incredibly supportive and helpful.
I want to ask a question about pricing. Picking up something at Zara is going to be priced differently than picking up something from your line. Can you explain why that pricing is different?
That’s kind of a loaded question! So, one, I produce in the United States. And I don’t just produce anywhere in the United States, I produce in Washington, D.C. I pay somebody who lives in the area a living wage. I also don’t produce in mass quantities; I produce in small quantities. There are discounts placed on volume. Volume in fabric purchases, volume on any sort of, you know, zipper. Anything that goes into a garment, if you buy it in larger quantities there’s a discount associated with that. Same with manufacturing.
I was reading on your blog how you take sample fabric and put it in the washing machine and then lay it flat to dry to see how it is going to wash and wear. Why do you do that level of fabric research?
If I’m going to put it out there, I kind of want to know what I’m selling. There are different levels of what you can expect from your clothing based on what it is intended for and the type of fabric. I try to make sure that it performs as expected for that fabric in that design. You know, there’s a reason why you wear yoga pants to yoga and not your blazer. I just want to make sure that I’m creating the best product for its intended use.
What would you say to a designer in D.C. who is interested in this world but doesn’t know how to break in?
Reach out! Join our Facebook group. I would tell people to do it. I think it’s worth it. I think there’s a lot to be added to the fashion industry and I think we can make it a lot better. I hope fashion is going the way of food. I think people have become ever cognizant of their food consumption and where it comes from—where they are buying. But fashion is not so much there. I hope it’s headed that way. I think it is.