Local fashion designer Katina Gad has refocused her business, Unity Outfitters, on producing naturally dyed and size-inclusive intimate apparel.
To finance this stage of her business, Gad is running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter which runs until noon, Friday, Nov. 2. The goal is $8,000 in sales, which would allow her to buy new equipment and to hire another seamstress.
The Raleigh designer founded her business on the idea that the clothes we wear matter as much as the food we eat. For several years, she worked with partners in Guatemala to create environmentally-conscious fashions and accessories, but her first love was always lingerie.
“I wanted to do lingerie from the get-go,” she said, adding that her focus was on undergarments while studying at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
“When I first got out of college, I used to sell lingerie designs. I would have started this business as a lingerie business, but I really wanted to help the women in Guatemala.”
With the new line, Gad is able to create sustainable products that were still affordable for the everyday consumer. She is also able to keep more of her supply line in the United States.
“I’m excited to do more of a focus on Made in the U.S.A. I believe that we have the power to create a supply chain that’s going to help and not harm. I like that it’s closer; I want to help North Carolina and the industry here,” she said.
All of the bras, bralettes, panties and slip dresses have been made using a soy and organic cotton blend fabric. They are being designed and produced in Raleigh using an organic cotton and soy blend fabric and natural dyes from plants and food waste. Her trims, closures and elastic, while not natural, come from a liquidator who sells discontinued material that would otherwise go to the landfill.
“I started looking into clothing and what was in clothing – the chemicals freaked me out,” she said. “We don’t think of formaldehyde being in our bras, but it is used as a wrinkle-resistant treatment. Just thinking about it, I wanted there to be an option.
“We have this concept that lingerie has to be lacy and frilly, and I’m not going to deny that I like it too. But it’s more important to make something that is healthy for our bodies for everyday wear.”
The new line was featured at this year’s SparkCon fashion show, held Oct. 19 at Raleigh’s Union Station Plaza. Gad says the audience appreciated her garments’ comfort, and that her show featured clothing for women of all sizes.
“They loved the inclusion of it,” she said. “I had models that were all shapes and sizes on the runway. I wanted to showcase that I do make plus sizes, regular sizes, small sizes. It’s important.”
After Nov. 2, Gad’s products will be available for sale on her website, unityoutfitters.com. And while she has been approached by several stores that want to carry her products, selling directly to consumers allows her to keep her prices affordable.