This jacket...UPDATE with picture

I went quiet again. A story was unfolding, some new developments kept me offline and life took an interesting turn. I’ll come to that, but first, let me tell you about this jacket.

Back in spring I posted a few different shots of a few different outfits, which may or may not have looked strangely similar in style and proportion. This is because they’re actually all the same garment, a jacket made from a pile of remnants of double sided technical denim, kindly donated by my wonderful friend Mel over at ByBrown. The writing had been going pretty well but I’d reached a point where I needed to step back, do some more research and let everything incubate for a while. I decided it was time to revisit some of the designs I was working on last year.

A word about the fabric, which is wonderful to work with. It’s crisper than cotton denim, robust and very wearable. Mel’s made some lovely pieces with both sides (including my trusty crash pants) but I thought she missed a trick for not producing any reversible garments. The challenge, though, is that each side is very different in character. The “right” side is a deep matt indigo, almost purple, and the “wrong” side is best described as silver. A reversible design needs to show the best of both worlds.

I wanted to use the resilience of the fabric to create something that would wear like armour plating. With this in mind, I cut a separate shoulder section which reverses at the neckline, partially lined the “wrong” side in black and added elastic at the hem and cuffs. The sleeve section can then be worn over or under the armhole, or even around the neck as a collar. One jacket, too many ways to count.

So I was out and about in this versatile number when I happened into a particular high-end bicycle equipment shop, like you do on a Saturday afternoon, where I happened to be served by a young man who was kind enough to pay it a compliment. Thanks, I said, I made it myself. Really? He’s made clothes too, in fact he’d trained at an English coat maker. We chatted for a few minutes about seam bindings and sewing machines and went our separate ways.

At this point, I’d more or less given up on any prospect of ever turning this into a viable business, but our conversation left me thinking. I went back to the shop a couple of weeks later and asked him if he’d mind meeting for a coffee and talking production. Sure, he said.

We had our first real conversation a couple of days before my last post here. Today I’m packing up my office in downtown Amsterdam and moving into a factory space close to the river with my sewing machines and my new business partner. The guy I met randomly in the bike shop, who said something nice about my jacket, turned out be a fashion graduate, a craftsman with some serious chops who’d come to Amsterdam from the UK because he wanted to make something too. And that, good people of YLF, is why you haven’t heard from me in a month.

UPDATE!! And I've landed. Packing went without a hitch at the weekend, almost everything has been moved and it's not even lunch time. As you can see, I've traded the balcony for a solid factory floor and a workspace in full daylight with bonus miniature mural. Now the fun starts!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • viva replied 7 years ago

    Wow - that is synchronicity, good karma, and a professional meet-cute all in one. I'm so thrilled for you! This jacket is amazing, modern, architectural, and wearable, and I understand why it sparked this major adventure. Best of luck to you and your (very smart) partner!!!!

  • skylurker replied 7 years ago

    Hello hello hello hello !!!
    I'm so excited to see you again, creepers and all.
    And I'm so glad your project took off. It takes a lot of guts and work to launch such a project. I'm in awe.
    Oh, and it's a great jacket, I like both its sporty side and its dressy side.

  • Anna replied 7 years ago

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! It's a great jacket and I am so glad for you. You just never know what is going to happen in life. That's why it is so wonderful.

  • Chris987 replied 7 years ago

    Wow, wow, wow, what an incredible story! ....clear proof of the value of being open to what life brings you....this is so inspiring...all the best to you in your new endeavor!

  • replied 7 years ago

    So there you are Liz! Wow! What a fantastic about Kismet! You were meant to meet that guy weren't you? Love, love, love the are a genius. Congrats on your venture and I wish you all the very best with it.

  • Sheila replied 7 years ago

    I love everything about this.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    GREAT story, Liz. Random, and yet meant to be. Windows open whenever doors close, don't they. Remember that the tortoise won the race. Slow and steady is the way to go (look at where we are after 10 YEARS of YLF). 

    The jacket is a work of art. You are a Garment Engineer. 

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    LOVE THAT JACKET! Sorry to yell, but it just had to be done. It's so great to see you post again, especially with such exciting developments. It's inspiring, especially since I feel like I'm treading water and getting absolutely nowhere with my creative endeavors lately. Maybe I need to go to our bike shops more often. ;-) 

  • Lyn D. replied 7 years ago

    Well done, and that jacket looks amazing!!

  • replied 7 years ago

    This jacket is fantastic. I also loved the pants made of this material that you showed us a while back.

    What a serendipitous encounter you had. I admire how you've capitalized on this opportunity! To me, you lead a very glamorous lifestyle :-)
    Good luck to you, approprio.

  • rebekahphoto replied 7 years ago

    bravo! that is a really cool jacket and I love the serendipity of that meeting with your future partner!

  • replied 7 years ago

    With a wind up like that I had to skip to the end and then go back, it didn't diminish the impact at all.
    You are so clever and original, of course I see influences and cultural connections but just your boldness is so fresh and then the details that you choose to add and/or exaggerate make it all look new.
    Best best wishes on this new chapter of your adventure.

  • Adelfa replied 7 years ago

    This is such a thrilling story.

  • Sara L. replied 7 years ago

    Wow, great story! What perfect timing that you happened to go into that store.

  • Nebraskim replied 7 years ago

    That is an amazing and wonderful story. Coincidence, luck, confidence and preparation combine with inspiration! Keep us up to speed on this super exciting adventure.

  • Caro in Oz replied 7 years ago

    What a fantastic story. I wish you every success in your new venture :)

  • Jaime replied 7 years ago

    I am thrilled for you! Truly very excited, I want to see your factory. Jacket is inspired and inspiring apparently. Thank you for a tremendous boost at the beginning of my week. 

  • Diana replied 7 years ago

    wow wow wow! I love this story, the random perfectness of it all. Don't you just love how everything seems to fall into place once the one crucial thing happens? Totally meant to be. Best of luck in your new endeavor!

    Love the jacket. Super cool.

  • Elizabeth P replied 7 years ago

    Oh, how awesome for you!  What a great story.  And that jacket is amazing... you really have an incredible eye for how a garment is and can be constructed.  i`m in awe.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 7 years ago

    The jacket is amazing, and so is your story. You have a unique talent and skill. I'm just in awe, and so happy for you, that you are off on this exciting venture!

  • Maneera replied 7 years ago

    Fabulous story....and what brilliant timing!! THIS JACKET is truly amazing. How versatile!! You're very gifted, Rio.

    I think this was "meant to be"....i hope you & your partner become a team to reckon with! All the BEST.

  • rachylou replied 7 years ago

    Eee eee eee!! I'm so excited for you! And to see what you make! It's amazing when things land like that.

    I love things that can be worn two ways, also. Fabulous jacket!

  • Sally replied 7 years ago

    I love multipurpose clothes that can work in different ways. And I love serendipity! What a great story and it's amazing the people and opportunities you meet when you're open to chances.

  • Cococat replied 7 years ago

    Wow, how exciting! Just like your fab jacket, I can't wait to hear how your amazing adventure unfolds.

  • Cococat replied 7 years ago

    oops dp

  • AJ replied 7 years ago

    Wowie Zowie, what a great story!  I am so happy for you!  Love the silver sheen side!  Can't wait to hear more about your adventures!

  • Lucy replied 7 years ago

    Fabulous jacket! Fabulous story! Meant to be. 

  • approprio replied 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for all your good wishes! It's so exciting and scary all at once. Synchronicity, kismet, whatever, right now it feels like a gift from the Universe but the hard work starts here. Ain't gonna be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

    I'll make some pictures of the new space when I move all my stuff on Monday. Sadly, I'm loosing my beautiful balcony, but as you say, every ending is the beginning of something new. 

    Angie, YES!!! I'm always telling my students that artists need to think more like engineers and engineers need to think more like artists, but it's easier said than done. 

    Janet, don't worry, I've been treading water as you put it for almost two years now. The whole venture came from the depths of a grieving, depressive burnout, so perhaps this would never have happened without months of silence and withdrawal. Sounds crazy, but there's always a low level muse at work. Keep at it. And go into more bike shops. You meet the best people in bike shops. Bikes are cool.

    DianeG: genius you say? heh, more like some faulty wiring! But thanks. I may have to rattle your cage once in a while for some couture tips.

    smittie: I'm a great believer in staying open to new people and experiences. Life is richer that way. But really, I'm far too geeky to be glamorous.

    Anyway... thanks once again. I'll keep you posted.

  • unfrumped replied 7 years ago

    Oh. My. Gosh.
    Fantastic adventure and the jacket is amazing.
    Of course this is such an obvious observation, but what I love about it is that it is both so WEARABLE - looking, not pretentious, but still dramatic, beautiful and clever. It both fits in and sets you apart, you know?

  • MrsK replied 7 years ago

    Amazing! The jacket, the story, the adventure you are embarking on, all of it! 

  • Tanya replied 7 years ago

    What a fantastic story, I have really enjoyed reading it!  Good luck with your upcoming adventure!
    The jacket is super cool and i would totally wear it.

  • donnat replied 7 years ago

    I love the jacket and what fabulous luck you have had meeting such a business partner. Very good karma you are having . I wish you success in your new venture.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! I had to shout also because this is such a magical, wonderful, joyful development. Just look at that brilliant sun and your equally brilliant smile and that incredible jacket. It is a stunning work of fashion art and also wearable. What wonderful synchronicity. Can't wait to hear the next instalment and see what you come up with next. 

  • replied 7 years ago

    Wow - what a great story!  I am excited for you !  And I'd wear that jacket in a heartbeat.  I look forward to hearing/reading/seeing more about your new venture as it unfolds.  Congratulations !!

  • approprio replied 7 years ago

    Ladies, you rock my world. I parked the thread until the move was a done deal so I could show a sneak shot of the new studio space. Beyond excited here!

    Thanks so much for all your good wishes. The last couple of years have been tough to say the least, but like the dude in the picture I'm back on the horse. Today is a good day.

  • Style Fan replied 7 years ago

    Congratulations!  What an exciting story.  I am so happy to see you again.  The jacket is great and very inventive.  Engineers and artists have a lot in common. 

  • Ledonna N. replied 7 years ago

    The universe heard what you needed and responded in kind.

    How amazing I s your journey!

    Welcome back and your style is uniquely flawless.

  • Helen11 replied 7 years ago

    Congratulations ! I can't wait to see the next developments. Wishing you and your business partner the very best.

  • skylurker replied 7 years ago

    Is that Napoléon on your wall ?
    Lol, you're in a conquering mood.

  • replied 7 years ago

    Brava, brava! I love your jacket and how it led to something big. I've always believed that when we follow our hearts, opportunities unfold, just been too nervous and boring to take the plunge. You are an inspiration, Liz, charging on to well-deserved success.

  • approprio replied 7 years ago

    skylurker, I'd better stay away from any land wars in Russia then, hadn't I? :D Now you mention it, looks like a knock-off of David's Napoleon Crossing the Alps. Well spotted!

    StyleFan, true dat! But sadly, they rarely learn to speak the same language. I trained in engineering, it was a great foundation but it took me many years to learn to translate it into creative work. That's a conversation for another time though.

    Ledonna, Aliona, you're very kind. I'm in uniquely stylish and inspiring company with both of you!

  • Jaime replied 7 years ago

    Love the chair!

  • approprio replied 7 years ago

    The chair was inherited from the last tenant. Couldn't believe he left it behind! And I found another tiny mural - a robot fella made of string....

  • skylurker replied 7 years ago

    Such a cute mascot !

  • rachylou replied 7 years ago

    Cool space! (But omg, can I be attention blind...I was like, shouldn't there be a dress form?...lololol! My first glance, I read the vignette as a!)

  • Style Fan replied 7 years ago

    Yes a conversation for another time.  But...... Leonardo da Vinci.  For starters.

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