Googley fashion

I just got email from Sarah Van Aken, who runs a clothing company in Philadelphia, telling me about her attempts to adjust to the new reality of the What Would Google Do? age. I found it fascinating, so I thought I’d just share it:

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I just finished reading your book and I wanted to thank you for writing it! It validated a new direction I am taking with my company. I own a semi-vertical private label apparel company based in Philadelphia. I have three clothing brands I have been manufacturing for in a proprietary garment factory in Bangladesh. As I began planning the expansion of my 3rd brand SA VA I struggled with its purpose and direction and knew that it wasn’t just about making clothes for me. As we started rebranding the economic crisis hit and without a doubt I knew things in the apparel business would never be the same again.

Since that time I have made some great steps including moving my manufacturing here to Philadelphia with help from the City to create living wage jobs, partnering with the People’s Emergency Center ( in various ways (volunteerism, mentoring, food drives) and making my clothing line about the people who wear it, not about a designer.

In doing so I have decided to simultaneously launch an interactive shopping site where along with purchasing our clothes, customers can send us drawings, tear sheets and ideas of what they are looking for and can’t find (because of my manufacturing control I can turn around goods in 6-10 weeks from concept), show us how they wore garments they purchased from us, access volunteer opportunities (without a huge ongoing commitment) at PEC and more. We hope to create not just a place where people can buy clothes that are local-made, fair-trade, made in the US, often organic or recycled (and every garment in the store has a paper tag with a check list of all of these things that apply) but they can interact and connect with their community and give back. Our design studio is right inside the store. We are doing video blog profiles of our employees (everyone from janitor to designer to production staff) that will be shown on the website and in the store. As we grow, this Philadelphia garment facility will supply regional stores but as we move across the country there will be garment center for each region creating the same kind of community experience and job creation in the area where we sell our clothes.

So, my point being that from your book it reinforced and grew the ideas that I had about what I wanted to make my business look like and the direction I was taking. We launch the store and webstore in late August. In the meantime – I started blogging too!!!!

  • Matt

    You might want to tell Sarah next time she emails you that the ‘comment’ feature on her blog site doesn’t work – this may be intentional but considering she’s obviously embracing the WWGD mantra I think not.

    What a great showcase of Googlethink.

  • There is a terrifically vibrant online community that focuses on fashion within Second Life… American Apparel and a few other companies have tried to tap that energy by building in-game stores. I don’t think they’ve found the secret to success yet. A more creative approach might help.
    For examples, see:

    bob wyman

  • Rhys

    Just got the book today, and am planning to start it tonight. Even more excited to read it now, after reading this. I love reading books that help you think about things in a different way, and help you to improve your life, but not in a cheesy self-help book kind of way. The Power of Small is another book I’ve been hearing about that is supposed to be like that. Any other suggestions?

  • Thanks Jeff! Dear Matt, thank you for the feedback – the comment section is working after repair of my WP malfunction!

  • I would like to go to your shop. I love shopping clothes because I like to look good always. And when I’ve read that you’ll be accepting our designs, I’m so pleased. I also have here old clothes so I can trade it too. Thanks!

  • Hiya!. Thanks a bunch for the info. I’ve been digging around for info, but there is so much out there. Yahoo lead me here – good for you i guess! Keep up the great information. I will be coming back in a few days to see if there is updated posts.