Interview by Adam Bryce
Photographed by Greta van der Star
General Sleep proffer some unisex and multi-purpose (bed or café) pieces.
We talk with Greta van der Star, co-founder of General Sleep, on their about-to-launch new collection. Keep your eye out for gingham cotton in ‘blue mist’ and poplin in ‘cloud’ — dropping late September.
How did General Sleep begin?
Bailey [co-founder] and I were lounging by her fire one night after dinner, sipping wine and wishing for the kind of pyjamas that you could wear to a dinner party or friend’s house. It was a cold night and we were wishing for soft-brushed cottons or cotton linens in comfy but flattering pieces. We thought we’d just make some for ourselves and then got carried away.
Sleep is so essential to our health and wellbeing and it’s the first thing that goes out the window when we have too much on. I think we rode the wave of high productivity as currency for too long — it’s time for a rest. We didn’t feel like there were any pyjamas in fabrics or shapes that created the ultimate sleep or rest environment, so we decided to design them.
General Sleep is committed to creating a sustainable option in the market. How do you go about the production process?
Our producers are amazing with the work they are doing to minimise resources consumed and make sure the supply chain is carefully looked after and paid a fair wage. They run a solar power plant and harvest rain to minimise energy consumption and recycle fabric off-cuts into paper. The textiles are organic and they work with Global Organic Textile Standard-certified yarn. The garments are made under one roof so they can offer complete transparency on who is sewing the clothing.
They are a family company that have operated since the 1970s, so they have a solid supply chain they’ve worked with for a long time, meaning they know who is growing the cotton and can work directly with farmers and communities for supply.
How does fast fashion affect your business?
Fast fashion is responsible for a huge disconnect in understanding what goes into producing a garment. The time to grow cotton, harvest and process for weaving, the weave time, the production elements of pattern making, and garment construction, also the cost of paying fair wages along the entire chain. A lot more goes into each piece than I ever imagined. The only way for us to produce ethically is to slow the process down. Instead of releasing collections each year — it’s about refining our favourite styles and introducing new fabrics.
Talk us through the design journey and inspiration behind General Sleep? There are so many muses of past, when it comes to sleepwear.
Oh yes! Katharine Hepburn on her skateboard, Coco Chanel making pyjamas for the Venice Lido, Winona Ryder for Rolling Stone magazine in 1994, Yves Saint Laurent and his robes. Our sleepwear was always designed to feel like you could throw it on and walk out of the house. We like to blur the line between these personal spaces that no one normally sees, and throwing on a sleep shirt with jeans to run out and grab your coffee.
Tell us about the new collection and the inspiration behind it.
The new collection has all of our favourite styles in two custom, handwoven fabrics. There’s a mist-blue gingham check reminiscent of table cloths by the sea and a crisp-cotton poplin, the kind that you want to wear until it’s inexplicably soft and threadbare. We’ve also reimagined our favourite wrap, with a balloon sleeve which will be perfect for long languid summer evenings.
What’s next for General Sleep?
We are working to keep things simple and maintain our ethos of producing only what we need, and pare back the range to just our absolute favourites. We’re currently working on one new style for next winter, inspired by vintage mens pyjamas and developing two fabrics with our producers to offer next year.
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