Karina Chronicles

Why a Karina Dress Costs $160: We Make “Slow Fashion”

By Garnet Heraman, Karina Dresses Co-owner

This is one in a series of posts in which we break down why, exactly, our dresses cost what they do.  We really, really love our dresses and we think once you know more about all the behind-the-scenes work, you’ll love ’em even more.  If that’s possible.


Karina Dresses are a small part of a big change happening in the garment industry called “Slow Fashion.”  Slow Fashion is not just hemp handbags and recycled socks. It’s about YOU the consumer becoming aware of the whole process–from design through production through use and through the potential to reuse.  It also means buying less, caring for what you own so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill. And it takes an expansive view of “Green” production, one that views Made in America as the obvious choice for products sold here.  This post focuses on the fabrics used for our dresses:

Our customers are absolutely fanatical about the details in our dresses, especially our fabrics.  We know the feeling. It’s how we feel when we are selecting fabrics for a new season’s production. Each and every fabric is handpicked by Karina herself. She reviews 1000’s of swatches, then works only with a select few based on Color, Print and Performance.  A word about each to give a glimpse into the creative process of an artisan dress-maker…

Color- What are the color trends for the upcoming season? What looks good on all skin tones? What colors/tones look great together? What colors complement the “It” accessories for the new season?

Print- What patterns are trending now? Trending next? What variations on these patterns can we call our own? What scale of pattern looks best on different body types? Do we have enough of the classics (that’s right, we love polka dots and we don’t care who knows it!)?

Performance- Every fabric must have whats known as 4-way stretch to support our top-secret signature fit. And every fabric must feel pleasing to the touch to maximize GLEE! when wearing. Without these characteristics, you’d never be able to chase toddlers, change the world, chop wood, quaff champagne…you know, all the real life stuff you love to do in our dresses.

I want Ikat prints!  Stripes! Missoni-esque! Floral! Geometric! Plaid! Houndstooth! Paisley!
We’ve heard it all before.  And because most of our customers commit to a particular Karina dress style, we buy many different fabrics but in small quantities and then make each style in a variety of patterns. That way you get the best of both worlds- a dress that fits like an old friend in a pattern that’s always new and now.

This delicate balance of the familiar and the fresh is not the norm. Most dress companies buy 1000’s, even 10’s of 1000’s of yards of the same fabric and mass produce the heck out of it. The result can be terrifying… women everywhere wearing the same dress,  like a real life ‘Stepford Wives.’

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It’s definitely more expensive for us to buy small batches of many different fabrics, and managing the production of each style in many patterns takes alot of labor. Traditional garment industry types think we’re crazy for doing it this way.  [They still don’t get this Slow Fashion thing. ] But isn’t this what YOU would do if you had a dress company? Of course it is!  And that, as they say, is good enough for us.

Thank you! to the ladies of the Karina Nation for all your support and ongoing inspiration.


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