Back to the (Fashion) Basics
“Fashion was the biggest industry in the U.S. in the 1980s,” says Holly Henderson, founder of Simply Natural Clothing. Then, in the 1990s, she says, most clothing manufacturers moved overseas — leaving a lot of talent behind.
Holly’s clothing line, Simply Natural, which she started in 2012, was founded as a proof of concept for innovative, sustainable fashion created in the U.S. Simply Natural uses completely sustainable materials, and its garments are created by 3D knitting machines. This means no seams, and no waste. Simply Natural’s clothes use alpaca wool and hemp fiber, and the company works directly with farmers to emphasize what Holly calls a “farm-to-consumer” link.
“Fast fashion has really been a detriment to the fashion market, and it’s a worldwide problem. It creates a lot of waste and toxic chemicals.” She points also the danger of unsafe working conditions for factory employees overseas. Meanwhile, Simply Natural has “complete transparency in our supply chain.”
Local Focus, Organic Tech
The company currently has 2 full-time employees and 5 part-time employees. Holly has been in the fashion industry for 30 years and has taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York for 17 years. While she still has strong ties to the New York City fashion scene, she started her manufacturing facility in Buffalo, NY. The city is “on the upswing right now,” says Holly. “There’s an economic need to get things going in this town,” and the location is more cost-effective for the company.
Holly, who designs the garments, specializes in knitwear. As Simply Natural continues operations, Holly and her team are focused on improving the 3D technology available for manufacturing softer materials. “We’ve been working on add-on devices to improve the speed, consistency, and quality of the product,” she says.
“We’ve proved our concept,” says Holly. Now, they are working to make the products available to a wider market and patent some of the proprietary technology the team has developed. In addition to Simply Natural, Holly and her team also work on private label retail contracts making clothing and fashion accessories for other companies.
As a new technology, “the equipment is not inexpensive,” says Holly, but “the newer machines that have been coming out are faster and more efficient.” The goal “is to improve production efficiency so we can be competitive in America.”
The company is currently looking for support from investors “in order to really expand throughout the country and internationally.”