Nestled in Casco Bay on Maine’s southern coast, Arrowhead Clothing Company has made a name for themselves by turning out some of the most simple yet beautiful clothes and accessories. With a classic sensibility and an eco-friendly outlook, each handcrafted garment is made-to-order, from natural hemp and organic cotton to linen and wool. But unlike so many lines that sacrifice style for sustainability, these are pieces that will quickly become closet staples for any and all shoppers and will never go out of style.
We sat down with Suzanne MacFadyen, the line’s founder and designer, to learn more about how she’s making it in the biz. Plus, check out how you can win your very own striped clutch from Arrowhead Clothing Company!
TCM: Every item in Arrowhead’s collection looks perfectly, geometrically put together. When did you first learn to sew?
Suzanne MacFadyen: “My fascination in dressmaking and tailoring started at a young age. I started sewing in junior high with tailored shorts from a Vogue pattern. In those days the patterns were extremely technical. By high school, I was making YSL and Lanvin using Vogue patterns. I have to admit, I never did my homework. I’d come home from school and start sewing!”
TCM: And when did you start designing professionally?
SM: “I went to work for India Imports of Rhode Island in 1970 in the packing department. I wanted to be in the design department, but didn’t let on. In those days, during the hippie movement, this was the coolest place to work. Brown and RISD students worked there and India was the place to be. I stared making clothes from block-printed bedspreads. The owner, Jagdish Sashdev, noticed my clothes, I was hired as a designer and few years later I was in India. That experience has had a huge impact on my appreciation for truly handmade products.”
TCM: Why is it important to you that the fabric you use is sustainable?
SM: “I remember going into a local fabric store in Barrington, Rhode Island when I was in high school. My eyes would get irritated from the formaldehyde in the fabrics. They no longer use formaldehyde, but the use of chemicals left an impression. Later, I discovered an older, established fabric store in Providence owned by two older gentlemen, Heller and Michaelson, with great woolens, tweeds and lots of buttons. After that I never went back to that Barrington store.”
TCM: And your fabrics you use now?
SM: “I think the fabrics I use are beautiful. I use cotton, hemp and wool. There is a lovely hand and natural sheen to them. Plus, vegetable dyes are superior in color to synthetics. Pure indigo dye can’t be beat.”
TCM: Where do you find design inspiration?
SM: “My past. The stages of fashion I lived through (mod, hippie, minimal) come into my collections and somehow manage to look cohesive. And then there are times I wake up and have ideas I can’t wait to get started on. I wonder if I was working while sleeping! I am also inspired with the idea of Old World craftsmanship: work rooms and old industrial sewing machines.
I think the look of my line is appealing in a familiar and relaxed way. It’s not flashy or trendy, just kind of friendly. And the construction always really blows people away.”
We’re giving away one of Arrowhead Clothing Company’s organic striped indigo pouches (pictured) to one lucky reader. Leave your comments below to win: Tell us your favorite tips and tricks for keeping your laundry green!