Outside of masks, pajamas have become one of the most ubiquitous clothing items during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if the fashion industry hasn't paid a lot of attention to how well they work in terms of form and function. But their wearers have: Stuck wearing them all day (and sometimes for several days in a row), many people are realizing how unfashionable their comfortable pajamas are and how uncomfortable their stylish sleepwear is.
Designer Hannah Barry, who recently moved from Los Angeles back to her home state of Colorado, has spent her career looking for fixes to fashion challenges; now she has launched an eco-friendly company, Sedvana, bringing both comfort and style to loungewear.
Westword caught up with Barry to find out more about the problems and potentials of pajamas, her work in the fashion industry, and her environmentalist entrepreneurialism.
Westword: Tell me about yourself and starting Sedvana.
Hannah Barry: I’ve worked in fashion and beauty for most of my career, but I’m more passionate about solving problems than I am about following trends. Sedvana means “tradition” in Swedish, and before its creation, I spent most of my time in women’s sleepwear desiring more functionality and style — especially now, since we spend so much time in it. As a society, we’ve been questioning a lot lately — how and where we work, where we live, how we treat others — while also picking up a lot more restful habits like meditating, baking and reading. Traditional women’s sleepwear hadn’t suited me for a long time, and I wanted to change that.
What brought you back to Denver from L.A.?
While L.A. may be a fashion capital, Colorado is one of the largest leaders when it comes to sustainability and combating climate change. Sedvana is made with deadstock fabric, which means leftover materials from other brands, and we don’t dye any of our fabrics, so there is no water waste. All of our packaging, tags, buttons, etc. are also all leftovers from other brands and repurposed for Sedvana. All packaging is also either recyclable or biodegradable. We didn’t just want to make a fashion statement, but we wanted to be environmentally friendly and conscious of the impact the creation of a line has on the planet. I’m also originally from Colorado, and am excited to establish not only Sedvana’s roots here, but to grow my family here, as well.
What's unique about your brand?
Aside from being environmentally friendly, we set realistic expectations for what women look like at bedtime. Movies and TV shows tend to show a flawless portrayal of women at night with perfect skin and hair, sometimes even sleeping in makeup, and that’s just not the case. We have wrinkles, stretch marks, retainers, acne, glasses, wet hair — I can go on, and all of that is raw, beautiful and genuine. We don’t use makeup or edit these things out of our photo shoots. It’s time women can truly see themselves in a sleepwear brand.
Our pieces are also all extremely thoughtfully designed so you don’t just sleep comfortably, but you can move about your morning or evening comfortably without worrying about being exposed. They are both functional and stylish, because after surveying hundreds of women about their problems with sleepwear, we found the number-one issue was having to consistently choose between “sexy” or “shapeless” when, most days, you just want to read a book with your knees up and not worry about flashing your family.
Stupid question: What's the difference between sleepwear and pajamas, and what's your beef with the baggy plaid classics?
Not a stupid question at all! Sleepwear and pajamas are interchangeable words for a market that hasn’t gotten a lot of thought or updates in a long time. Year after year, I’ve been gifted a set of flannel, plaid pajamas for the holidays and have never reached for them. I don’t wear head-to-toe plaid during the day, so I’m not sure why I would want to wear it at night, when I’m with the people I love most. What you wear has a huge impact on how you feel, and this traditional take on sleepwear, especially now, when we spend so much time in it, never left me feeling productive or creative or restful or myself. It felt cute and cheesy, which isn’t my style.
Talk more about how you source your fabric and how you got started doing that?
Sedvana is made with all deadstock fabric: leftover fabrics and findings — buttons, tags, etc. — from other brands that purchased too much and then didn’t use it. Most of the time this ends up in a landfill, but with Sedvana, it gets a second chance at life.
We use high-quality cotton/modal blends and knits so that the pieces can be a part of your closet for a long time. It was also important to us that everything be machine-washable. Even though hand-washing is the most environmentally friendly way to take care of your clothes, for most people it’s not feasible to do each time, and they’re left with shrunken, pilled pajamas they can’t wear again. That’s not the case here.
Working with deadstock requires a certain amount of flexibility. To maintain our zero water waste, we can’t alter the colors, and it takes longer for us to find exactly what we’re looking for, but there is already so much out there to work with, so new materials weren't necessary for Sedvana.
What production issues come up when you are reusing fabric from other brands?
We haven’t run into production issues using deadstock at all. It’s a wonderful alternative to creating and dying exactly what you’re looking for. It just requires some flexibility in terms of color selection, fabrication and timeline.
What's the future of your company?
We want to continue to provide better options for women — whether that be new shades, styles or the way they view themselves.
Find out more at Sedvana's website.
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