“The World’s Finest Shirts for Women” – How Did We Do It?
If you’ve ever tried on a Sarah Alexandra shirt, there’s no doubt you’ve experienced first-hand just how special these shirts really are. However, not many people know how much work has gone into these shirts in order to truly make them, “The World’s Finest Shirts for Women”. The work starts with the design, then the materials, the fit, and lastly the manufacturer.
By now you’ve likely heard about our lineage from Renee Bassetti to Sarah Alexandra. If not, here’s a little summary. Renee is a women’s custom shirt maker and clothier based in Seattle, WA. She developed the Signature Shirt that has become popular all around the world. Sarah, Renee’s daughter, worked for Renee for many years and the two of them ultimately collaborated to bring Renee’s custom shirts to the ready-to-wear market. This was the birth of Sarah Alexandra in 2015.
Designing a women’s shirt is one of the hardest things to do in fashion; and grading the shirt for the ready-to-wear market wasn’t easy either. It took us almost a year with over a dozen women trying on the shirts to make the necessary adjustments for each body type. The number of revisions to each shirt design was seemingly endless, however, ultimately rewarding because we now have these beautiful shirts available in sizes 2 through 14.
*Check out our blog post on June 24, 2016 to learn more about the designer of the Sarah Alexandra shirt, Renee Bassetti.
Having worked for her mother, Sarah had relationships with many of the Italian mills and knew exactly what fabrics she wanted our shirts to be produced in, the finest Italian cotton. The beautiful thing about using high quality Italian cotton is that the fabrics are both soft and incredibly durable. That was the easy part, but selecting just a handful of fabrics for the first collection was definitely a challenge! There are so many amazing fabrics it was hard to limit it to just ten.
We knew we wanted the first collection to be the “Classic Collection”. Our customers need to be able to find their favorite shirts season after season. One of the most frustrating things in shopping is when the brand has discontinued that classic white shirt or pair of jeans because they needed to make room for the new collection! We wanted to have a collection that our customers could count on season after season and create consistency in an ever-changing market. We carefully chose these ten fabrics so we can create timeless shirts year after year!
Renee had designed such a one of a kind shirt, but we wanted to make sure that it fit as many body types as possible. As luck would have it, Sarah was introduced to one of the most talented fit specialists and pattern-makers in the industry, Meg Okies! Luckily, Meg had just finished a major project and had room in her schedule to work with us! We couldn’t be more grateful to her for the amount of time she took on each and every detail! We enlisted 15 of our friends and family and undertook a two-day fitting session! With Meg at the helm, we documented every last detail of every part of the shirt. From here, we were on our way to creating the shirt you see and love today! We asked every single person a series of questions from: How did it feel overall? What do you think of the sleeve length and body length? How do you feel about the height of the collar? How about the spread of the collar on the weekend shirt? . . . and on and on! We combed over every inch of the shirts and made adjustments to the buttons, button-hole placements, pleats on the sleeve, and even particular stitch locations around the collar. We did all this to make sure they were absolutely perfect for every customer in every size!
As you can image, with such a unique design as the Signature Shirt, finding a manufacturer who could make these shirts to our standards was the most challenging part! After sending samples and patterns to a number of manufacturers in the United States and Canada, we discovered that very few had the actual skill necessary to make these shirts to our specifications and expectations. The fashion industry has always praised Canada for their clothing manufacturers’ quality, professionalism, and working conditions. We found this to be true. We located a manufacturer in Ontario, Canada that was absolutely perfect. They are both a dream to work with and have as much attention to detail as we do!
The result is simply the most impeccable shirt you’ll ever wear. From the top to the bottom, this is an everyday kind of shirt that never disappoints. That was our goal for you when we established Sarah Alexandra – to provide a beautifully designed and constructed shirt at a contemporary price point. We hope you’ll feel the same way when you wear your Sarah Alexandra shirt!