McLemore no longer expects zipper and button manufacturers to keep large inventories in warehouses for quick shipments. As a result, she bought her 30,000 yards of rubber for bras on several tops, enough for her 15,000 shirts. “It’s going to take me a while to get through it all,” she quips. She will wait 3-4 months for the elastics to arrive, but then she can have her own inventory for quite some time.
We hope her clients aren’t in a rush for another one of her crisp white blouses. I ordered. The order won’t reach her until February 2023, missing the fall delivery entirely.
Cotton prices have risen dramatically since 2020, and the recent U.S. restrictions on cotton from China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, aimed at protecting Uyghurs from forced labor, have affected her supply. It’s not yet clear what the impact will be. “All our cotton comes from Europe,” she says. “I don’t know where they got the thread from.”
McLemore struggles with her dependence on European textiles. She buys fabric exclusively from her one factory in the US, Texollini, a high-performance fabric manufacturer based in Long Beach, California. Like many designers of U.S. luxury brands, she has been educated to consider Italian, Swiss and French textiles as her sole source of luxury fabrics. She says she has little confidence as to whether there are any U.S. textile mills that can produce fabrics from It says it is not aware of textile markets or trade fairs.
An ongoing series of challenges and obstacles is being navigated. “There are days when you don’t know where the next arrow will come from,” she says.
Three of the New York cutting rooms she has worked with over the years have closed during the pandemic and she has no plans to return, she said.
Neither does she. McLemore currently has vacancies in departments such as finance, production, sales, marketing, customer service, order processing and store management. She’s been looking for a manager for her Atlanta store for over a year.
Then there is another fundamental change brought about by the pandemic. McLemore’s office-based clients are working less in the office and dressing more casually and coolly in light of climate change. For example, Janet’s Yellen favorite jacket is her cropped front buttoned piece with her raised collar, but now has no lining. Less wool and less structured items allowed designers to adapt to change.
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