By Cody Constantin

The old way of life, the old way of work, the old way of design and thinking?

For the past ten years, the Geoffrey B. Small team been steadily increasing the amounts of handwork involved in the creation of their pieces. "The handmade component of our work is one of the highest in the designer industry bar none."

Handwork requires no electricity, petroleum, or machinery. It emits no carbon or methane into the atmosphere. It provides life skills and work to human beings and enables them to create garments autonomously with less dependency on a system with vastly diminishing resources. For example, one of us can execute a beautiful hand slip-stitch down a jacket front ourselves with just a needle, thread, and know-how, far faster, less expensively, and more beautifully than the classic AMF machine system modern alternative.) And it creates high-value works that are beautiful, unique, and meaningful in a multitude of ways." — Geoffrey B. Small

The return to handwork is also leading Geoffrey B. Small to a new world of artistic perspectives and directions. "We are continuously pursuing and experiencing as we increase this new interpretation to maximize a very old application."

Hand-dyeing fabrics to Geoffrey B. Small is "Discovering an Art that spans our human history on earth. We have learned that the handwork concept is not at all limited to the cutting, sewing, and assembly of our ideas. "During my time in Italy, I have had a marvelous chance to study and develop a wide and growing array of ways to treat and alter fabrics and materials and add new layers of dimensions to our design concepts, starting with established masters working in Italy, and then on my own in our studios at Cavarzere. Some of the most exciting and beautiful results have come from years of hand-dyeing our clothes in a long list of organic dyes and substances that each yield special results. Like hand clothes making, hand dyeing with organic materials is a very sustainable technology that can use far less carbon-generated energy than traditional industrial procedures."

Reducing the amount and quantity of products and making things that last as long as possible is tantamount to the new wardrobe philosophy. Every piece must count for maker and wearer. If making clothing is going to cost more in the future, it must contain less waste, and that includes pieces that are over-produced on speculation using slave labor tactics. Micro-scale design and high-value production specifically targeted to individual niche customers' exact needs in exclusive and limited series is the logical sustainable and humane approach.

"A new way of life, a new way of work, and a new way of design and thinking."

The staff at Geoffrey B. Small form a most advanced, productive, and tight designer workroom team. With a combined experience base of over 110 working years in the industry, the four senior members are ambitiously balancing their skill sets and knowledge base to train and develop a new generation of designer tailors. At Via Spalato, with a hands-on working master and apprentice approach that operates and competes at top levels of research, design, and distribution. The 17 people will create and deliver about 2,200 pieces of handmade clothing in this collection, along with four original Paris prototype collections.

The personal touch is for-real. "Every person who works with me here in the new expanded Via Spalato workrooms at Cavarzere Venezia does indeed touch each piece as it follows its unique and magical path of creation, with their full attention, heart, and passion. "That's why it looks and feels so personal, because it is, to every person here."

The GBS focus has not been just to reproduce effects of 'a day gone by,' but to look at, and arrive at, new and forward-looking applications of handwork for 21st-century life.

The new handmade L.Parisotto suit hand-dyed double-faced jacket and trouser. Serica della Marca pure silk handmade 'advanced collar' design shirt and a very limited modified short length 1920's short front trouser cut using Luigi Parisotto's miraculous double-faced linen and cotton weave cloth — a perennial Geoffrey B. Small wardrobe design favorite used in the collection.

"It is not a brand thing or a label thing. It merits the proof that a real human being is behind it. And that human being wants the eventual owner of the piece and anyone else who views it to know it as well. It is one human being passing a piece of his life's work and passion, along with that of those who work beside him, to another human being in the form of a garment designed and built to surpass any previous preconceptions of a what a piece of clothing can possibly be."

Buttons have become an integral part of Geoffrey B. Small design elements. Each one is a work of art, playing its own key visual and tactile role in the total composition of the piece. Whether specially made for Geoffrey by Italy's best artisan makers in Parma or Padova, or the late artist Karel Faber in Amsterdam using pure silver, or handpicked from dozens of the best vintage and antique suppliers in Europe, or actually refinished, modified or created and made by hand in our own studios. The average cost per button reaches well over 5 euros apiece, wholesale, with many clothing designs having between 50-100 euros worth of buttons sewn into them alone.

"We spend more on the buttons on one of our pieces than other designers spend on their main fabrics — it's part of our art. They are all different, and each has a special story." Add to that, the amounts of time that such an intense approach in both design decisions and production efficiency to a detail that normally is just done with all the same buttons, and the costs go into the stratosphere. Geoffrey B. Small production goes very slow when it comes to button operations. — visually and functionally, it's so critical."

We support Geoffrey's attitude when he talks about rehumanizing the clothing experience to the value where it rightly belongs. "We believe the new crises in the global economy are symptoms of an industrial system that no longer cares about customers, or human talent and skill, or people in general." A lot of 'designers' are now claiming to make handmade or 'artisan' clothes these days. But in fact, very few really are. 

Geoffrey B. Small believes in raising the bar of commitment starting at the designer level. He thinks now is a great time to return to the age-old art of making clothes for people one at a time. Geoffrey tries to give the wearer of his clothes a new level of service and long term value and satisfaction. "While our impact may be limited to a small circle, we must ask ourselves, "what can we do?" and as our specialty and focus have always been at the forefront of the avant-garde, we must also look and try to predict where things are going. Our goal in these difficult times as an independent designer continues to be to survive and maintain our name and work by developing and introducing exclusive new solutions in design, manufacture, and services that others in the industry will try to copy and follow."

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