Building a Sustainable Brand & Redefining Beauty

On Sunday my friend and board member Will Paxton took a socially distanced group out on The Velvet Hammer sailboat to take photos for my capsule collection. As a seven time National Sailing Champion he weighs in on my brand ensuring each piece is relevant and tested at sea. He also has an appetite for winning in any endeavor, and he holds me accountable for moving the brand to the next level in all aspects. It was fitting that he would be there for this memorable photo shoot.

Expanding My Vision

Retail has melted down as the pandemic continues, but in my little corner of the retail market we have been able to thrive. One of the reasons is my vision for a sustainable alternative in sportswear has never been more relevant. The Ocean SF brand is dedicated to providing an ethical and sustainable alternative to the outdoor wear that is currently being made overseas without regard to ethical or sustainable fabrics or practices. If you can buy a pair of jeans for $12.00 you know something is very wrong.

Our products including my signature 100% Merino Wool jackets are sewn near Union Square in San Francisco by third generation sewers. My fabrics are 100% biodegradable and environmentally conscious. Now I’m adding home sewers for small runs and samples providing a livable wage for women who work from home.

Redefining Beauty

Galen in Ocean SF – White Linen Wrap Dress $298 – Photo Credit Vicki Kincaid

I didn’t expect for social change to be part of my brand identity, but it is. Everything I do is always with a sense of awareness of it’s impact. Therefore, I couldn’t do a small Sunday photo shoot with close friends without bearing that in mind. On the eve of the shoot I confirmed the participation of professional models Galen and Christopher to come and challenge all perceptions of beauty and masculinity. They both modeled for me last year at fashion week. They arrived on time and ready to change the world.

This shoot had a very, “the rest is history” feel to it. Galen or just G. pushes the boundaries of what our society has historically viewed as beautiful. To me she could not be more beautiful. Her beauty shines through her lovely face and eyes when you talk with her. There are so many things that make this professional special and I hope to see her grace my pages again in the future.

Christopher in Ocean SF – 2020 – Black Sleeveless Dress $298 – Vicki Kincaid

If we move to all unisex clothing we can dissolve the gender roles that define us.

Christopher in Ocean SF – 2019 – Black 100% Merino Wool Jersey Knit Hoodie $248

Christopher, a man comfortable in his masculinity, has a quiet reserve. He has a deep voice and one of those slow curvy smiles. Luckily for us, he was willing to wear our iconic linen dress in the spirit of Harry Styles who wore a ball gown on the cover of Vogue this month. Ironically, I received my copy of the issue the day after shooting Christopher in the Ocean SF linen dress. I think the difference is that a man could actually wear our linen dress. It’s very comfortable, breathable and looks great on just about everyone, including a man.

But, it was more than just that, Christopher wore it with a certain masculine vulnerability that I’ve not seen before. He walked that razor sharp edge that pushes boundaries, but at the same time looked and felt like the new normal. I think everyone there recognized that this was a moment we would all remember.

Women weren’t allowed to wear pants until Coco Chanel popularized them in France in 1930.

Women in Pants

It wasn’t until 1930 when Coco Chanel made her first pair of white linen wide legged trousers did the idea of women in pants begin to be acceptable. In 1850 pants were introduced for women, but they became something one wore under a dress. Women were not allowed to wear pants on the U.S. Senate Floor until 1993. Why can’t men wear dresses? I think they can wear whatever they like.

Changing the World

When I started Ocean SF I had the simple idea to make clothes that were warm. I knew wool was the perfect material for this chilly sport. I simply wanted to be warm while sailing, but I couldn’t find the clothes I needed that I liked. Seeking something classic and chic to wear that would keep me toasty warm I cam up empty handed no matter how much money I threw at it. So, I hired a former Gucci pattern maker and made my first prototype in 2016. From there I milled my own technical wool fabric for my signature jacket in Asia.

I was new to design and the clothing business, but I held the vision in my mind that I wanted to wear natural fabrics sailing, skiing, hiking and dodging about in my life. I did not want to wear polyester even on a walk around San Fransisco. As this idea began to form and grow I became more interested in environmental factors. As a lifelong environmentalist I began researching the impact of polyester on drinking water. I’ve been fighting single use plastic for years. Then, my attention turned to fast fashion and the impact of polyester fleece on our oceans and water ways. Now, I am looking at how Ocean SF can help women earn a livable wage and change the way we see beauty and masculinity, gender-fluidity and non-binary dressing.

My initial vision was environmentally focused.

Now, I see my vision expanding we push the boundaries of what beauty is. We are all evolving and as tough as 2020 has been it has made me more aware of how I view the world. We are all important. We are all beautiful.

If there is one thing this year has taught me it is to be myself and let others do the same.

Love and blessings to all.

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