When it comes to clothing, we expect nothing short of the perfect fit. But what does it take to get to that point? We caught up with Finery’s garment technologist, Gemma, to find out more.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon and garment technologist Gemma is knee-deep in pins and tape measures. Since starting work at Finery in February, she has become the one responsible for how each garment fits and to oversee the process from sketch to finalised product. With hundreds of items going live each year, this is no mean feat. Involved in the process as soon as the design team have finalised a drawing of a garment, Gemma, her assistant and the production manager work with the designers to determine any special requirements.
‘The pattern cutter creates a pattern,’ explains Gemma. ‘We then hold a fit meeting where we see a toile of the garment - this is essentially a mock-up in a similar quality fabric. We will fit this on our model and make any amendments we feel necessary.’ After sending the updated pattern to our factory they make a first prototype. ‘We then fit this again with our brilliant product development and creative team.’
The penultimate stage is getting what is called a sealer sample. ‘This is really exciting because you finally see the garment in the correct print and with all of the correct styling amendments applied.’ Last up is a production sample. ‘This is the first garment off the production line,’ says Gemma. ‘At this stage we are checking the garment for quality, packaging and labelling.’
Gemma’s job doesn’t end here, though. ‘We also assist with customer returns, quality control and monitoring returns.’ As you can imagine, this is a hugely collaborative role. ‘A garment tech needs to have a keen eye for detail, be a practical thinker and a team player.’
So how did she end up working in fashion? ‘I originally wanted to be an artist and started studying a degree in fine art at London Metropolitan University. After completing the first year I felt that I was not learning the practical skills I was craving.’ Realising that this wasn’t the course for her, she left and started a pattern cutting night class. This progressed to a BA (Hons) at London College of Fashion studying bespoke tailoring and design.
‘I just came across the course at LCF and thought it sounded great! I had already done some pattern cutting on my previous course and had been making clothes for myself so this was a great opportunity. It was a truly a labour of love as everything is hand sewn and process-based following a traditional way of making that has been passed from tailor to tailor.We also learnt about production
tailoring techniques and the overall production process.’
Getting a break in the industry happened fairly quickly. ‘I interviewed for an assistant garment tech role instead of going to my graduation!’ she laughs. ‘I started the job the following week.’
Since then she has worked for a variety of different companies including a high street supplier, British heritage label Jaeger and menswear brand albam. ‘It was here that I got to work with a variety of different garments and production techniques and also some great European and UK suppliers.’
While her eye for detail may mean great things for the fit of your Finery, it also means she has a pretty long wishlist. ‘I have recently really enjoyed working on some beautiful knitwear. I also can’t wait for our fabulous leather jackets that are coming in soon. My favourites are the Maidstone lilac leather trench and a leather snake print raglan jacket. These are super cool!’