Behind The Seams
Text by Ling Wei
Photography by Ivanho Harlim
IN GOOD COMPANY (IGC) has always managed to find a centre point of balance. Neither fast-fashion nor unattainable, its designs are quietly considered and easy to wear. Plenty of attention is paid to the make and quality of its clothes, as well as the signature finishing that defines the brand. What good is a brilliant designer if there isn’t an expert on hand to see its execution through? The delivery and success of any independent label hinges so crucially on the synergy they share with the very people who make their clothes. It’s the designer’s proverbial unicorn—finding a production partner that gets it, and grows with you.
Located in Taixing, a country-level city in Jiangsu province, China, the illustrious IGC production facility is a three-story country house nestled within a quiet farming community. A modern cottage industry run by husband-and-wife team Guoping and Xiao Zhou, it’s a mid-sized abode that houses their family of six, and a lively menagerie of chickens, ducks, goats, a mongrel dog, and four newly birthed kid goats. It is also where 15 specialised staff work on IGC pieces. Fifteen minutes’ drive away, a new factory space for 20 other workers has been set up in recent months to accommodate the growth and increasing demand for the brand’s pieces; a hub of activity where designs and samples are translated into full-scale production, along with all its technical and problem-solving scenarios. It’s an everyday operation that the customer will never connect to the final garment hanging perfectly in-store.
The production facility is owned by Doris Wong, an old friend of the label’s founders whose keen eye for exacting quality is matched by a militant work ethic, and softened by her mother-hen management style. A tour of the production grounds reveals not just the inner workings of IGC, but also the cross-intuitive working relationship that Doris, Guoping, Xiao Zhou and the design team share. From paper to garment, the journey of each IGC piece is an intricate system of creative exchange, where design acumen and technical prowess doesn’t just end at the label’s Singapore-based design studio and sample room.
Simple can be harder than complex, and the clothes of IGC—for their minimalist approach and clean-cut designs—are challenging to make, requiring a deft hand and a technical mind to complete. “No other manufacturer will fight to work on IGC orders—it’s too complex,” shares Xiao Zhou. “We are very selective of the workers that we hire. Unlike other factories with segmented production lines, our workers are multi-skilled and knowledgeable enough to work on many different aspects of the production process. The factory is small so everyone has to be highly skilled.”
Read more in The X Press N˚2.