Hackwith Design House: How One Independent Designer is Re-Imaging Clothing Manufacturing

Just over the Mississippi River, where the Twin Cities of St.Paul and Minneapolis meet, lies a cluster of brick buildings once home to the King Koil Mattress Factory. Faded paintings of the mascot– a bedspring wearing a crown– still dot the brick walls. But King Koil is no more.

Now the little campus houses artist studios and small businesses. Among them is Hackwith Design House– a tiny clothing brand that does not shy away from tackling large scale issues such as zero waste, maintaining artistic expression, extended sizing, and, most recently, entering the circular economy.

 

 

 

Hackwith was formed in 2013 by trained studio artist, Lisa Hackwith. Originally the brand used only deadstock fabric (leftovers that large manufacturers donate or landfill) and released unique, limited pieces weekly– similar to the limited run works of visual artists.

 

 

As Hackwith grew, it developed several lines as creative solutions to production problems. Here’s how it currently breaks down:

  • The Core Collection contains styles or fabrics which change seasonally. It allows the brand to be thoughtfully responsive to changes in customer needs and gives Hackwith room to develop and refine.
  • The Basics Line contains pieces that are offered all year. 
  • The Limited Editions are pieces made in small batches, usually less than ten. This collection is way to use smaller batches of deadstock fabric and gives Hackwith a place to try new styles and get creative.

Hackwith also has a swim line, an extended size line, AND an intimates line. Their offerings are much wider than other designers this size.

Hackwith’s latest project, the Sustain Shop, is a fascinating project that seeks to lower production waste and lower the price barrier that comes with handmade clothing. Textile giants Patagonia and Eileen Fisher are the only other companies that we could think of with similar programs.

It works like this: Customers send in HDH garments that they no longer wear. HDH give that person a credit toward a new garment. HDH mends, repairs, or repurposes the garment and sells it at a lower cost than its new items.

 

 

The garments above are waiting to be photographed for the website. HDH does its product shots in-house. The production space is also used for occasional open houses and parties. Storage areas are re-arranged and turned into dressing rooms.

 

Small batches of deadstock fabric are used to create one-of-a-kinds pieces. Hackwith’s designs often stand out for their range of colorful prints with a vintage vibe.

HDH uses an old model industrial cutting machine to cut fabric. The equipment works, but the software is obsolete. HDH developed their own software hack (ha!) to keep the machine from ending up in a landfill before its time.

 

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I linked to a few of my favorite Hackwith Design House pieces here:

 

 

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Now for your story

 

What small designers are you into lately? Have you ever purchased a Sustain Shop Piece or sent an item of clothing in for repair? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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