First Pick presents Winterluxe Recycled Cashmere

The weather was a bit cooler today, so we’re thinking about Fall *and* this week’s theme of reclaimed textiles, with Winterluxe Recycled Cashmere, made by First Pick Handmade organizer Janna Hurtzig.

We’re eagerly awaiting the return of toques and layers, so we checked in with Janna about all things Fall, sustainability and First Pick Handmade related… have a look!

Sustainability is huge right now, but what do you think needs to happen to take it from “trend” status to how the everyday person is living?
I think we are starting to see more change in the way that people want to spend their money, that they want to buy things that they believe in, and that speak to their values.
I think it’s the big companies that are primarily concerned about profits causing the majority of the environmental problems we are facing, so it is going to be a major shift in how things are made, purchased and used. I think it’s going to be a slowing down of society that needs to happen, and in moving things towards buying local and handmade, we will place more value on what we are buying and how we are caring for it.
We almost need to return to pre-industrialization at this point, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing: maybe we move to a 3 or 4 day work week… I think many people would welcome a change like that. Time, or lack thereof seems to be the driving force behind convenience foods, fast fashion… all the things that come over packaged and cheap are appealing to people who don’t have a lot of time.
Part of the idea in putting together First Pick has been to give people without the time to really seek out local and handmade a “one stop shop” that makes it easy to make sustainable choices, so I think the easier it is, the more likely people will be to buy better.
What are you doing to spark change from an activism point of view? 
Putting together First Pick Handmade has been one of my contributions, our voices together are so much stronger, and I am so proud to work with such a great crew of designers who care as much as I do about sustainability and social change. In October, I’ll be hosting the first First Pick Handmade Home Decor Market as well, to get people thinking about buying local and sustainable at every aspect of their life.
Even with the rise in Sustainability, customers still want “luxury”… how does your line connect the two concepts? 
Winterluxe has always been about combining function and luxury, with the intentional choice to use materials already in existence. There is so much material out there, that is high end, but has been damaged somehow… my goal is to reimagine what Luxury means. My items are not something we wear once in a blue moon, it’s for everyday life. People can still enjoy these luxe materials, like the cashmere and leather I work with, but without the guilt surrounding buying new.
On the topic of production… What is your favourite part of production, and why?
I love the cutting and sewing, the colour matching that I get to do, it feels like playtime…. The loads of laundry always feel like the real “work”.
What do you wish customers understood about the production process?
It’s very time consuming and also still rather expensive to work with recycled materials, since items need to be cut by hand and there can be wastage because of holes and stains. There’s also all the pre and post work to be done: sourcing the fabrics, organizing and warehousing materials, and then the laundry that needs to be done because it’s all recycled… It’s a lot of work that goes unseen. Even developing a new item takes a bit of time, since it needs to be replicated out of multiple source fabrics, which can all respond slightly differently.
Making something from “new” fabric would be so much easier, but I enjoy the challenges that working with only recycled fibres poses.  
People often think fashion is all glamour… what’s your “average” day like? 
The time I spend at shows and markets are my “glamorous” days…. Because I’m not covered in fabric fibre I get to wear nice clothes, and I get to talk to people!
Otherwise, it’s up and out to walk the dog and then breakfast at the computer to answer emails. I try to get into the studio by noon, with breaks throughout the day to pop into the house, eat, check email, take the dog out again, do social media… It feels like it’s nonstop all day long. If I don’t get enough done in the studio, I’m back out until I’ve made my quota, or I catch up on the “weekend”…
I don’t produce all year long so it has to get done in the window of production I have from February to August, so there’s always a feeling of rush near the end.  I try to work with the seasons, rather than against them, so the aim is to have all the sewing done by mid-August so I can use the summer heat to air dry everything, and also so I’m not trying to work in a roasting studio, which is our garage. There’s little glamour in working in a garage, but it works well for me, and I enjoy working from home.
Let’s talk fashion… What’s new for Fall 2019? Why are you excited about this season?
Fall 2019 sees a bit of a departure and a bit of a return: years ago I used to make some items out of fun fur, but seeing all the leather and shearling hitting the thrift piles got me thinking about adding some shearling and combination shearling/leather pouches into the mix, so I’ll have those new for Fall, as well as some leather headbands and *hopefully* some new cowls, if time allows…I always run out of time!
I love layering up so I’m looking forward to feeling extra cozy this Fall, with lots of textures, and textures in unexpected places, such as the pouches.
What is your design viewpoint? Who is the person you design for? How has your design viewpoint changed or evolved?
I design for people who love cashmere and want to wear it in many ways. I also design for people, such as myself, who want new things, but sometimes feel guilty buying new. I feel lucky doing what I do, I get to make people feel warm and cozy for a living and also feel good about it, since I’m diverting materials out of the waste stream.
What’s new with you since we saw you at our last show?
I’ll be organizing the first First Pick Handmade Home Decor Market this October 19+20, so I’m pretty excited about that…. mark those calendars!