This post was sponsored by Grammar. All opinions and words are my own, I receive no editorial direction and only ever give my honest thoughts.
It’s the minimalist dream: a small collection of basic, versatile pieces that look great and go the distance. But sometimes, let’s be real, it can feel more like a nightmare. Sometimes being a woman and wanting to look nice in your clothes can feel like they’re mutually exclusive. We often know the key staples that we need, but finding a version of them that we genuinely like and feel good in, well that’s a whole other story.
But this finally looks set to change, thanks to New York based newcomer to the ethical fashion scene, Grammar. Founded by Althea Simons in 2016; this organic, made-in-the-US brand are launching their first ultra cool capsule collection. Their mission, to provide staples that last a lifetime and actually make the wearer look good.
Sustainable fashion is home to a myriad of stories, but it’s been a while since I’ve heard one as interesting as Althea’s, whose path into the world of sustainable business wasn’t exactly straightforward or obvious. Althea’s father was a trained architect, and her mother opened a natural food store in the early 90s (before that was ‘a thing’) so she grew up surrounded by both design and organic, natural living. The shows and glamour of the fashion industry didn’t appeal to her, but from a young age the idea of style and how people carry themselves was a constant source of fascination. It was only after graduating with a degree in neuroscience (with a quick study abroad in Paris where she started making clothes) that Althea realised design could be a perfect path for her, requiring both logical and analytical skills as well as creativity.
Althea moved to NYC where she studied at Parsons, it was also here that she began thinking about starting a sustainable clothing company produced in the US. At the time people told her it was impossible and, though she didn’t believe them, she first gained experience working with big names like Issey Miyake and Yeohlee Teng, and working in branding, before heading to business school. After graduating in 2016, she’s been working on Grammar full time ever since.
‘I’d wanted to start a sustainable fashion company for a long time. What pushed me over the edge was in January 2016, at the beginning of my last semester of business school, there was a fire in my apartment building. The building was totally destroyed, and I lost most of my stuff. I was faced with trying to recreate a wardrobe I had carefully curated over at least a decade. I couldn’t find what I wanted – classic, versatile pieces that were thoughtfully designed, unique, and sustainable.
I thought, if I don’t start a business now, when?’
Grammar’s process begins with a foundation of impeccable quality and construction. The clothes have to last a long time and not follow a trend; items that look good no matter what decade you step into. Their first collection is a curated capsule of white shirts like you’ve never seen them before. Althea chose the classic white shirt for its versatility and iconic status, whilst it’s also the perfect example of an item nearly every woman needs in her closet, and yet it can be impossible to find a good one.
Each design comes from a huge amount of thorough research, with Althea collecting a range of images and ideas, talking to and observing people. Just like her unconventional journey into fashion, Grammar’sdesign process looks a little different from the usual fare: deciding on the design before going into the market looking for the necessary fabric (usually designers source fabric first and then design). It made Althea’s life a little more difficult, as the process can be a long one. High quality organic cotton poplin is not easy to find, which resulted in Althea talking to countless different mills and distributors to find the right fit. As the US currently doesn’t have the spinning and weaving capability for poplin here, Grammarworks with a ethically run mill in India, that provides organic cotton that is 100% made in India (often as cotton is created it can travel around the world and back again, racking up a big carbon footprint, this isn’t the case with Grammar’s cotton).
With fabric sourced, everything in Grammar’s collection is made in New York, part of a fashion manufacturing ecosystem that has been strong for generations. The companies Grammar works with come with depths of knowledge and talent around clothes manufacturing, with relationships forged between companies that are just a subway ride away, and no one is exploited in the process. Like everything Grammar does, details are key, and this makes local manufacturing all the more important.
Each shirt comes with its own intricate and unique details, the clear result of meticulous attention to detail and diligent work. Alongside the classic, no fuss white shirt can be found other styles and twists on the traditional. With the material and make being so high quality, all it takes is a longer cut, an oversized sleeve or a delicate collar to cement these shirts as serious sustainable luxury items. What could be seen as simple actually proves itself to be thoroughly thought out, and the result is a collection of designs that ooze class, ease and timelessness. What’s not to love?
Beyond that the pieces are themselves named after grammar terms and phrases, a small quirk that could be easily missed, but that I absolutely love. The classic shirt is known as ‘The Verb’, a wardrobe and sentence staple, while a shirt with a tie at the waist is known as ‘The Conjunction’. To a proud Brit like me, it’s absolutely genius. I can’t wait for the Oxford Comma.
After Grammar’s ongoing launch on Kickstarter comes to an end Althea plans to continue in a similar style: releasing small capsules of 3-5 styles at a time and collecting pre-orders, avoiding wasted resources or energy by overproducing before sale. She has a few more styles of white shirts planned, as well as experimentations with alternative fabrics such as lighter cotton or linen. After white shirts Grammar will then move on to those other difficult wardrobe essentials such as black pants and blazers. Basically, they’re on a mission to equip us all to be, look and feel like our best girl boss selves.
I don’t know about you, but I am 100% here for it.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.