Sew very local
Burning Man-inspired Valkyrie clothing line shoots for local sustainability
When Robin Fletcher set out to start her clothing line, Valkyrie, she wanted to keep it as local as possible. And “local” in this case doesn’t mean the United States or the West Coast. It means Reno. From the design to the sewing to the materials, it was all sourced here.
“At one point we had women sewing all over town,” says Fletcher, who worked in the fashion and television industry in Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe before moving to Reno nearly four years ago.
This first line, available at Whole Foods though going fast as Labor Day weekend approached, is inspired by the fashion of Burning Man. “Made Local—By Burners for Burners” reads the sign above the racks of her purple and pink faux fur jackets, fleece gaters, wrap skirts, harem pants, halter tops and knit hats. Burning Man is where she met her husband 10 years ago, shortly after recovering from a viral pneumonia that left her in a coma for a month. It was a time she was reevaluating her life and deciding she would “only do things that inspire me and help make the world a better place. You have to do what makes you happy, what makes you feel alive.” It’s also when she became blown away by Burning Man’s fashion and art.
“The costuming I’ve seen out there is so amazing,” she says. “A ballgown made out of sporks—and it only makes sense out there. For me, it’s definitely been an inspiration.”
But keeping it local also meant that this green-minded fashion designer had to forego some of the eco-friendly fabrics she would like to have used, such as those made from bamboo or soy-based inks.
“I have to right now focus on the local community and local economy in terms of fabrics and materials,” says Fletcher. “The economy isn’t great right now, and I feel it’s just really important to do that.”
Environmental ideas have started to go mainstream in Reno, but green fashion has yet to catch on in the same way as, say, local or organic foods have. For starters, green fabrics of the past weren’t very appealing, with strange smelling, scruffy hemp vests and overpriced organic cotton. But that, says Fletcher, has changed.
“Industry has caught up, and now the green fabrics are beautiful, so we can focus on bringing them in. I think people really want them, too, if given a choice.”
Fletcher, mother to two little girls, plans to start a children’s clothing line called Tiger Rose, for which she hopes to convince local fabric stores to carry more organic and environmentally sustainable materials.
She is, however, well versed in the art of recycling fabrics. She often finds clothes, or even draperies, at secondhand stores and uses their material to make something completely different. Some of her custom orders are made largely from recycled materials that look brand new.
“I don’t want to start outsourcing, buying fabrics from San Francisco,” says Fletcher. “I want to see what we can do here first. Reno is where I’m focused on, breathing some new life into this economy.”