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Karina Chronicles

Why a Karina Dress Costs $160 – They’re Made In America

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 why our dresses are Made in America:

Did you know that every single Karina dress is 100% handmade here on American soil? It’s true!

Every day, our sewers are hard at work in the emerging arts and business district of Bushwick, Brooklyn, making dresses for you. That alone is something we are very proud of.  Why?  In 1965, 95% of clothing sold in America was Made in USA; by 2009 only 5% was made here. New York metro was once home to a booming garment industry and now Karina Dresses is one of the 5% remaining garment businesses in Gotham.  This cautionary tale of  the decline of American manufacturing was the subject of HBO’s excellent documentary Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags.

Why is Made in the USA even important? (Our answer may surprise you.)

Many industry and trade groups have published exhaustive lists of reasons for buying US-made products.  You’ve heard many, if not all, of these reasons before.  For example, jobs & community development, environmental, human rights etc etc. We believe that these are all solid reasons to manufacture here in the US. But at the end of the day, we produce here because Karina Dresses is all about relationships.  I knowww…sounds corny right?  But it’s been like that since before there was even a company to accuse of being corny. Karina formed these relationships with customers and store owners when she was still sewing the dresses by hand in her living room.  The stuff she learned from just listening to folks is what makes our dresses so special: Love, thread and cheers…it’s all in there.

As our customer base and store network grows, we intend to keep the fabric of these relationships tightly-knit (excuse the bad pun). We like knowing each of our sewer’s names and all about their families, kiddos, and pets. We like that customers write long unsolicited love notes telling us about the romantic date night they had with the hubby, and why our dresses helped make it so.  And we love hearing store owners say “I should just hang a Karina sign on the front door and start selling only your dresses- they sell that well.”

This tight bond between us and the diverse women in our family of friends, fans and customers is what makes Karina Dresses the unique company that it is.  And there’s no way to have that intimacy when you outsource manufacturing to Mongolia or your workers live in Waziristan!


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