POSTED: Thursday, November 06, 2008
A year ago, Allison Izu Song was making the press rounds to talk about her Spring 2008 debut line of jeans for petite women, bearing the name of her label Allisonizu.
ALLISONIZU LAUNCH PARTY
Fall 2008 Denim Collection
Place: Pearl Ultra Lounge, Ala Moana Center
Time: 6 to 8 p.m. today
Spring came and went without the jeans, as Song apologized to waiting fans and went back to the drawing board again, and again, learning the hard way that manufacturers don't always promise what they deliver.
With her first overseas manufacturer, "The quality was off. They'd send great samples, but when they sent the shipment it was totally wrong," she said. "I have boxes and boxes of jeans I don't want to sell."
She went through two more companies in LA before finding one that met her standard of quality.
"I wanted to find a manufacturer who is a good person, who has ethics, because that's how I work, and people kept telling me I was not going to find a manufacturer like that, but I did."
Song's Fall 2008 collection, which makes its debut tonight at Pearl Ultra Lounge, features five styles of premium petite denim. Guests will be the first to be able to view and purchase the denim.
Song was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York when she thought of using her experience as a 5-foot-2 woman to create a clothing line geared toward petites, at 5-foot-4 and under, who have difficulty finding clothes that fit. She spent years creating custom patterns which bring up the hemline, mindful of the proportions of a shorter frame.
"Basic (pant) patterns are made for a 5-foot-10 model, fitted from hip to knee and knee to ankle, and most pants use those proportions," she said. Hemming takes care of the knee-to-ankle proportion but doesn't correct the hip-to-knee ratio, a problem not visibly apparent, but obvious to the wearer in fit and movement.
Although few classes dealt with denim, Song did hang on to one textbook that became her bible, guiding her through burn and pull tests that she practiced on her store-bought jeans to test the denim's cotton content and strength.
This was one way she learned manufacturers were trying to pass off low-grade denim as premium product.
"When the samples came, they didn't feel right, they didn't look right," she said. "I was shocked. I didn't want to believe it at first. It was a good thing I kept my textbook from school.
"It was a whole long process. I called the mill to check and they said they had never heard of this manufacturer.
"I'm a little wiser now. I tend to be too trusting of people. By the time I found my current manufacturer I put him through the wringer because of everything I'd been through, and he was like, 'Where is this coming from?' "
Song has no regrets about entering a field as difficult as denim, although in hindsight she feels it may have been easier to start elsewhere.
"At first I thought it would be easy to buy one fabric, because there are so many different ways you could treat it to make it look different, but I found that denim changes so much with enzyme washing and other treatments. Pressing shrinks it too."
She chose a premium American denim with 1 percent polyester that will allow the jeans to keep their shape over time. She's now working on her Spring 2009 and Fall 2009 collections, as well as studying Italian and Japanese denim that have a softer hand and slight dressy sheen due to the way the individual threads are finished.
"It took me a long time to get here, but I'm in a good place now. I'm ready to go forward."