Shannon Whitehead Lohr is the founder of Factory45, an online accelerator program for entrepreneurs who want to design and produce an apparel product in the United States. Shannon created the program in response to starting her own fashion company, {r}evolution apparel. In 2013, Shannon and her business partner launched their premier product, The Versalette (one piece of clothing that can be worn over 15 different ways), on Kickstarter and raised over $60,000. They were determined to manufacture in the USA using sustainable materials but struggled throughout the process. Factory45 helps entrepreneurs avoid these pitfalls and start their business with support and guidance. We talked with Shannon about her personal style and how she has developed a wardrobe that works with her lifestyle and values.


After college, I went to Australia with two gigantic suitcases and a huge backpack, stuffed with clothes. I remember I had to pay extra for my luggage because it was so heavy. After a year of living abroad, my last stop was Southeast Asia. By that point, I had either sold or donated much of the clothing I had brought with me to Australia. I arrived at a meditation retreat in Thailand with just a backpack. I was an aspiring minimalist–I believed less is more and wanted to live with less. This change was driven by understanding the environmental impact of the fashion industry and realizing I could live with so few pieces of clothing. I also saw first-hand how little people live with in places like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand. I also noticed that when you travel you’re focused on new experiences with new friends from all over the world. When you’re sharing these amazing moments you don’t care about what you’re wearing.

 

At this time in my life, I was thinking a lot about why we live this life of planned obsolescence. We just consume, consume, consume, knowing that we can replace something for five dollars when we are done with it. The average American throws away between 65-82lbs of textiles a year, which is ridiculous. I don’t want to be a part of that. So, in 2012 I moved to Austin, Texas and started {r}evolution apparel. I was learning what it takes to start a clothing company, and how damaging the fashion industry is, how environmentally polluting, and all of the associated human rights issues. I learned a lot during the research phase of starting this clothing company and it changed my purchasing habits and my consumer behavior. That’s when I started primarily buying second hand. Now, I’ve evolved and I have a little bit more disposable income, so I tend to buy really high-quality pieces that might be a little more of an investment.

 

I still have a predominately second-hand wardrobe, but I’m lucky that I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who are starting sustainable clothing companies. So, I have some of their pieces which are definitely higher quality and higher priced. My closet is curated. I don’t buy things that I don’t want and that aren’t going to fit into the color pallet that I’ve laid out. My entire wardrobe is black, gray, chambray. Everything goes together; I have tan shoes and black shoes and everything is interchangeable.

 

My personal style is minimalist chic. In the last year, I’ve started to realize what fits and looks good on me and how that is different for other people. I now go through my wardrobe and ask myself, “Why am I wearing this? It does nothing for me.” I think it is important to appreciate what you have. If you’re petite, embrace that. If you’re curvy, embrace that. Because there are clothes to accentuate and make any body shape look good.

 

Shannon’s Faithful Five

I probably wear these pieces each twice a week. The key to my wardrobe is versatility and fit. If you don’t feel good in it or if it is uncomfortable you’re never going to wear it.

  1. Grey Sweatshirt: This is a go-to because it can be a cozy, fitted, cute sweatshirt. But I can also put a white collared shirt under it and prep it up with a black skirt, black leggings, and boots. Made by: Project Social T, made in the USA, purchased second-hand.
  2. Skinny Jeans: These are my go-to jeans. They are made of organic cotton and don’t have that much spandex so they’ve held their shape over the years. I like the cut at the leg because I can cuff them and put them over boots but then I can wear them with flats. Made by: Del Forte Denim, made in the USA, second-hand.
  3. Moto Sweatshirt: This is another sweatshirt but it can pass as a chic sweatshirt. And again like I can put a black turtleneck under it or a white collared shirt and it looks like a nice, soft jacket. It falls to the hips, a boxy cut and the collar is cool, cozy, and versatile. I can wear it all year-round. Made by: Seamly, made in the USA, small batch manufacturing.
  4. Chambray Shirt Dress: This is my go-to dress for a casual meeting or if I go out. I’ll wear it on a Friday night and I’ll wear it to a coffee date. I just love chambray and I love how it fits and the length of it. I love that it’s forgiving in the waist, the cut of the neck, and the pockets. Made by: Brass, made in China, ethical manufacturing.
  5. Black Shirt: This is just a standard black long sleeve shirt that I got on ThredUp but I like that it has deep neckline so it can be dressier. It’s slouchy, really soft, and I like wearing it with jeans or a high waisted skirt. It’s just very versatile. Made by: Michael Stars, made in the USA, second-hand.

 

Shannon’s Tip

Avoid bringing clothing to Goodwill at all costs. Instead, drop clothing off at recycling centers or bins around your city. Around 95% of textiles or clothing can be recycled into stuffing, upholstery, shredded into rags. It is better for the environment and it does not impact the economies of developing nations.

This post was adapted from an interview with Shannon Whitehead Lohr at her home on April 22, 2016.
May 10, 2016 by Jay Adams
Tags: Basic Style

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