If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I like to impose shopping challenges on myself. Wayyyy back in 2012 (doesn’t that seem like eons ago?), I embarked on my “Shopping Custom Challenge” which involved buying at least one custom made item per month for a few months. I bought items from 4 different companies and scored a pair of jeans and two pretty tops that I still wear to this day. When I noticed that tall fashion newcomer CAS Clothing offered both ready-to-wear and made-to-order clothing for tall ladies, I knew I had to find out more!
I first found Eryn Shields, the designer/owner of CAS Clothing, on Instagram and was immediately
jealous of impressed with her sewing abilities. Once Eryn launched CAS Clothing, I became super curious about her company. Did she sew the clothing herself? Where did she get her fabric from? What was the story behind the company? Thankfully, Eryn agreed to satiate my curiosity by answering these questions (plus a bunch more). Read on for all of the fun details!
TFA: Tell me a bit about you, your background and what inspired you to launch CAS Clothing.
ES: CAS Clothing started with my daughter and that’s why I named it after her. CAS are her initials. Many people say “Cas”, but it’s C-A-S. I learned how to sew when I was pregnant with my daughter simply because I gained so much weight with the pregnancy that I was bursting out of my clothes. I didn’t want to pay a high tag for frumpy maternity clothes. I was fat and wobbly, but I still wanted to be cute! Enter my sewing machine.I figured that I’d make a few dresses to get me through the pregnancy and then I’d go back to store items. But, I ended up falling completely in love with sewing and it just took off from there.
After becoming a mom, I truly found myself. Maternity leave was rough because baby girl did NOT sleep much and she always wanted me to hold her. I did not sleep much for the first 5 months, even with my husband by my side. I’d never been so exhausted mentally and physically in my life. Once I “survived” maternity leave, I knew I could do anything. She taught me what it’s like to take care of something else even when I was running on fumes. I saw what I still accomplished even being a walking zombie.
After that, I felt invincible. I wanted to be more and have more for myself and my family. This new surge started with me taking my blog, Style Sew Me, more seriously. It started to boom very quickly and people started to request items from me. I turned them down for months before I finally said yes.
I took a few orders to get my feet wet. Then, I realized many of the requests were coming from tall women. As a taller woman myself, I really understood the pain points of shopping while tall. So, I decided to focus on tall women, and CAS Clothing was born.
TFA: After seeing your inaugural collection, I had a few thoughts. First, I have to say that I am a complete sucker for off-the-shouler styles so I adore the items currently available! Second, I always admire people who are blessed with a knack for sewing (mostly because this is a very impressive skill and partially because my sewing skills are grossly lacking so I like to live vicariously through people who are talented in this area). Third, I get very excited whenever I encounter made-in-America items. Having said all of that, can you describe how the made-to-order option works? Who makes the custom garments etc.?
ES: I hand make all of the made to order (MTO) pieces and many of the in-stock pieces for CAS Clothing with a great attention to detail. The MTO model is very simple in that a customer needs to input key measurements for me to create a garment made especially for her.
Fit is a huge factor to me. Fit is the difference between you wearing a garment and a garment wearing you.
TFA: Over the past year, I have been paying more attention to fabrics because they can really make or break a garment. I’d love to know more about the fabric selections and sourcing for the CAS Clothing collection.
ES: I’ve sourced all fabrics from sources in the US. Fabric is my favorite part of sewing and fabric choice can really make or break an item of clothing. I’ve spent months sourcing the fabric for my pieces long before I ever launched the store. It is a very tedious process! I’ve traveled to trade shows and have ordered tons of swatches of fabrics until I found the best fabrics for my pieces.
TFA: I am always intrigued and impressed by entrepreneurs, and I’m eternally grateful to the tall women who have bravely started their own clothing lines. What is it like being an entrepreneur especially in the tall fashion scene? What have been your biggest challenges? What bits of advice do you have for women who are toying with the idea of filling a niche in the tall clothing world by starting their own line?
Being an entrepreneur is a mashup of a ton of different emotions. It’s a roller coaster ride, for sure. As far as challenges go, I’m learning that many tall women are still trying to come to grips with their height. I didn’t get completely comfortable with my height until I was an adult. They don’t quite love themselves completely, yet. And this affects their fashion choices. They choose pieces to help them blend in with everyone else. They may be a bit reluctant to take risks or truly own their unique personal style.
They have Pinterest boards full of inspiration, but they still say “I’m too tall, I can’t wear that.” So, keeping that in mind, pieces I design are a reflection of classic silhouettes with a bit of “pop” here and there. Not only do I want these women to have clothes that fit, I want her to be comfortable.
Starting any business whether it be a food truck or a clothing line has to be about filling a need. The customer has to come first. Don’t do it for the money because you’ll quit before you ever get started.
TFA: What will we see next from CAS Clothing?
ES: CAS Clothing will be moving more into the made to order space. CAS Clothing is not the traditional store where you will see collections coming out at the top of the season. More pieces will be added throughout the year, but it is a more fluid model in that once I perfect the design and choose the best materials for it, it will be released for order.
I absolutely love Eryn’s vision for her company, don’t you? She’s already making me want to bust out of my fashion comfort zone and try one of her skirts with the bold print or bright fabric or try one of the curve-hugging, off-the-shoulder dresses. Also, the thought of a fellow tall lady hand-crafting a garment just for me makes me feel so happy! I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for CAS Clothing!
Have you ever bought a customized item? Where did you find it? Do you like off-the-shoulder styles?
Photo Credit: A Garcia Photography; Photos used with permission from CAS Clothing