Well, summer is here, and summer Dead Tour is rolling across the country. As I write this from Ixchel’s HQ on the Florida coast, it finally hits me just how amazing that is. Here at Ixchel, we have felt the nationwide buzz over the last month as everyone’s preparations for the tour have gone into gear; we were delighted, and humbled, to be a part of it, as people all over the country have come to us for their tour wear. If the band hasn’t hit your town yet, you can still take advantage of our “Dead & Company” discount until July 5th; we are still shipping every day, Priority 2-day service to most towns. If you are already on tour, a couple of the best vendor crews have a full complement of Ixchel wear, I won’t mention them by name because the lot is, well, you know.
We will quite possibly do another discount special for Phish tour a little later this summer, look for details on Facebook or by invitation, if you’re on our email list. Until then, safe travels, drink lots of fluids, and enjoy the shows.
How did corduroy become a staple fabric of the hippie fashion scene?
I'm glad you asked that question. Since a correct answer is important enough, at least within the realm of hippie style & fashion, here is a little cultural history:
In the waning years of the original Grateful Dead experience, circa 1992 to 1995, young Americans who wanted to live the Bohemian Dream came to the scene with some of their cultural aesthetic preferences already established; bands like Pearl Jam & Nirvana had become icons not just for a new aesthetic they represented, but also for what they were perceived as rejecting: many of the cultural touchstones of an earlier generation were unappreciated simply for their ubiquity. A tie dyed T-shirt does not represent the flowering of Youth Culture to anyone who grew up watching their parents wear them, to say nothing of their grandparents.
The florescence of Hip-Hop in the 1990's, especially with cross-over artists like Cypress Hill and Tribe Called Quest and the breakout of '80's art-Rock, alt-Rock and countless offerings from the post-Punk diaspora gave those early X-generation kids cultural references outside the confines of the American Psychedelic iconography that devotees of the Grateful Dead lifestyle had studiously reworked for three decades. By the time the original Grateful Dead experience was over and Phish was selling out stadiums across the country to a new generation of nomadic seekers, everything had changed and yet stayed the same once again, and when that happens, it's always the details that count.
The DYI Generation was already going full steam when the technological revolution sped it up; the internet helped, but it was the underlying attitude that made the difference. On Phish's fall tour of 1997, half the kids in the audience were wearing clothes they or someone they knew had made at home, When I saw it at the time I remember thinking that hippie fashion was about to transform itself, and and that Ixchel would play a part.
So, back to our corduroy, what's so good about it? We don't go the cast-off route, gathering up thrift-shop corduroy and ransacking the clothing donation outfits that some of our well-known competitors use, while it's admirable ecologically, you lose control mostly of color coordination, as well as other issues, and color is too important to us to out-source.
We have all our corduroy woven to order by a very reputable Central American mill, it is 12 wale to the inch (those are the little rows of pile, the long fibers that give corduroy its distinctive look and feel) which is the softest and dyes most consistently.
We buy it in natural, not white, to mute out the color a bit, and dye it with a top quality dye works. Usually we will do 9 colors (plus black) each year- 3 greens, 3 blues, and 3 browns. We use the three groups to make patchwork in each of those color families. We vary the hues a little bit every year, the last two years we have done a deep wine color to use with the brown group, and people have liked that change.
We have found that the narrow wale corduroy blends well with other fabrics- especially the hand woven and hand brocaded cottons of our native Guatemala, and we have gotten great results mixing using it in our patchwork system.
We bought quite a bit of new corduroy getting ready for the 2017 collection; we dyed all but a bit that we are saving for something special, so you can expect us to keep right on working in corduroy- it’s been good to us, we try to use it well, and we hope everyone in our neck of the fashion woods will continue to wear it well.
Ixchel had a 20+ year run in the Connecticut River valley; and we sure do miss a lot of people there, but this past year we had an opportunity to relocate to a great place in the greater Sarasota region of Florida’s Sun Coast, so we went for it, and here we are!
We are closer to our suppliers, which does wonders for our supply chain; it will speed up import, help us keep our inventory covered, and help us keep prices in check as we go forward.
Regarding our new 2017 collection, and we certainly hope you like it, we admit that a certain sub-tropical feel might have come over us; we went for bolder colors for our spring/summer apparel than we have done in I can’t remember how long, we also decided to recognize another big change going on around the country and put a certain Ganja leaf out there for people to see, and to see if they like it. The style, I mean.
We may well do a fall update this year, but meanwhile, we hope you like our latest edition of Ixchel’s music lifestyle interpretations, and we hope to hear from everyone, and don’t be shy about giving us your opinion.
A few weeks have gone by since I last wrote a blog post about our coming 2016 spring/summer collection. We got it all in and put it up on the site in mid-April, and, well, I suppose a thank you is in order, as the results have been fabulous!
WE can tell already that a few items of our new collection are going to be big hits; we know spring/summer shorts are always a big part of our collection, and something people always look to us for, still, some of our new items have already exceeded expectations.
We brought out two new styles of simpler,lightweight summer shorts in native ikat; a patchwork version, and a straightforward one in ikat. The patchwork (PC-11, 5 sizes) one we offer in three color groups; our usual Green, Blue & Café, they might vary a little bit from one to the other but not enough to notice, and the simple ikat one (PC-10, 5 sizes also) we will offer in unique variants, so people get the exact color and weave they see. Already we know they will be all over the festival scene this summer.
But the biggest surprise is the one that makes us happiest: our new Classic Cargo Short with Mayan Serpent applique, we really hoped people would like it, now we just hope to keep it in stock all summer! We feel a sort of personal attachment to that new style: we are proud of our Mayan roots, in our inspiration & the materials we use, and our team who make the collection, so, to see people respond positively to our distinctly Mayan themed decoration on our new flagship summer shorts, well, we couldn't be more pleased.
We did a Mayan interpretation on our Garment Dyed Cargo Shorts as well, we used the Two-Headed Eagle, this one is a traditional textile motif of the Highland weavers, a talisman of good fortune, and we re-interpreted it on our summer cloth shorts in a digital embroidery that is color fast and durable. We think of it as another example of the space we have staked out in the world of casual fashion: where Folk Art meets Hi-Tech.
I have lots more new products to introduce, but I'll leave that for the next post!
It has been a long winter, and a lot of work has gone into this, but we are just about ready to showcase our 2016 collection!
New shorts, new embroideries and appliques, new Joggers style pants, new hoodies in new fabrics, new hi-tech backpacks, a few retro-classic style bags, and a lot more!
We are proud of this collection, we hope you like it, and we'll tell you more about it all whe we showcase it on or around April 15th!
It's about time we got around to publishing our event schedule, summer is here already.
This is the official Factory Team schedule; a number of the best festival craft vending teams will always carry our products, so they will be at a number of shows where we won't.
So we will be at Camp Bisco, July 16-19, at Montage Mountain in the Scranton, PA area. If Electronic Dance Music is your thing, this is a must-see, and Montage Mountain is a great venue. We will be in the Waterpark, where a 24/7 hippie pool party will be in full swing. Bring your bathing suit!
We'll go next to the (can you believe it?) 20th Annual Gathering of the Vibes, in Beautiful Seaside Park, July 30- August 2, in our home State of Connecticut. Since it's our home show, we'll do an extra special booth, and shoot video for our up-and-coming YouTube channel.
In August we'll do a back to back run, 1st the Peach Festival back at Montage Mountain, we'll be in the Waterpark again for one more hippie pool party (it really is a special way to enjoy a jam-festival) August 13-16, and then run right up to the finger lakes for Magnaball, Phish's big summer camp-out for 2015, at Watkins Glen Race Track, Aug 20-23. We will be in the Campground for that event, so you might have to walk to come out and see us. We'll be open 24/7 at that event
In September, we'll go back to Lock'n, in lovely Arrington VA, Sept 10 to 13, and then come back to New England for Wormtown Music Festival in Greenfield MA Sept 18 to 20, and probably our colleague Saint Phinnegan will take a crew to Catskill Chill out in Hancock NY that same week-end, we hear it is the last year for the Chill at that Camp Minglewood.
We'll finish up the years events at Hulaween, down in FL at the legendary Suwanee Music Park, and that is going to be enough. I am sure I will announce "never again" at least 6 times this summer, which I think I have been saying every summer since around 1994. Then I remember all the fun we have and I say... well,.....one more summer!
Well, summer is here and we're finally getting around to telling you what we've got that's new around here. No excuse for the delay, except maybe the weather, as spring didn't make it to Connecticut until late April.
Nevertheless, or sin embargo, as we say in Español, we did in fact toil away in the salt mines of our magical workshop all winter, so we could bring everyone new and beautiful hippie fashion art. (Excuse the mixed metaphor; the salt mines part is an exaggeration anyway, our facilities in the Mayan Highlands are lovely, and the weather, while quite cool owing to the altitude, is a marked improvement from any New England Winter)
So, you're asking what did we do there? Quite a lot actually. First, due to the success of our garment dyed shorts and pants in 2014, we expanded the garment dyed apparel collection. We got very lucky in sourcing a new basic summer cloth; it's about 4.7 oz., has just a bit of slub (irregular thickness) in the yarn to give it texture and an artesanal look, it dyes richly and softens beautifully, giving it the just the hand you would want from casual summer clothing. The garment dyeing process also shrinks the seams, giving a nice pucker to the cargo pockets and patches (we did patchwork shorts and over-dyed them) and well, we love it and we hope you do. We were so happy with the results we expanded the color selection, and we have gone to unique variant images for our 2015 hand woven apparel; when you see an image of a short or hoodie you like, that's the exact one we'll send you. It's working out great.
We also (I told you we got lucky) sourced a basket weave cotton, it is quite heavy; 8 oz or so, it also dyes and softens just like you'd want it for casual wear with an artesanal look. We are making outerwear; Hoodies and patchwork jackets with it, a heavyweight version of a new kimono that we love, and using it in bags too. When we bolt-dye it, it combines in patchwork with the native textiles that we use with a striking result. You'll see it in a few places in the collection, and we are bringing out more outerwear designs in basket weave for fall.
We are doing our traditional patchwork apparel with embroidered appliques, the Terrapin cargo shorts are a must-see, and we took our "4 Seasons" Tree of Life design and upgraded it. Originally, we wanted to hand-embroider the tree design, it was simply too hard to get right consistently, so we went back to the drawing board and labored to get our 9 color computerized embroidery machines to give us a rustic, hand made looking result, something modern computer software doesn't want to do, but we figured it out. The result was so good, we went overboard and put it on 8 different handbags and backpacks, in different fabrics, and they all look fine.
We are making so many new artesanal styled apparel items, many of which are quite costly to produce, that we left them out of our wholesale collection for 2015, so many products offered on the site this year will not be available in the boutiques that carry our collection. That section is now called the "Ixchel Custom Shop"; it's not open as I write this, we will showcase the new stuff any day now.
We are doing the big jam-band and EDM festivals here in the North East; check our Facebook page for the summer schedule. We won't be at Soldier Field, but our hearts will be, and vendors will have our products. We will reward our steady customers with a BIG discount coupon shorty, also check our Facebook page for news, and that's all of mine for now. Play nice, it's going to be a long summer
To all our friends, our patrons, consumers and retailers, colleagues, suppliers, competitors and first-time lookers, we hope you like the new look of our site!
We have put a lot of effort into it; and we have had some great help. We wanted to have our site re-done before Holiday Season 2014, and we just made it. We have a lot more work to do; we will be updating the images and editing the info on our current collection, and we are excited to be showcasing some new products, mostly fall/winter outerwear, in the coming weeks. We know the site navigation still needs improvement, and we will be working on it steadily, to try to bring you the best shopping experience, and to better compliment the aesthetics of our collection. If you are familiar with our fashions, you know we draw our inspiration from the sights and sounds of the jam music scene, and from the world of textile art possibilities that we enjoy from making our collection in the heart of the Mayan Highlands of Guatemala. To us, those two cultural expressions, the art of the American jam music scene, and the Mayan textile arts, make a perfect match, and that is what we try to express with the Ixchel brand.
You can now link to our Facebook page and our Twitter feed from the site, so stay in touch and let us know how we're doing!