- At Prange Apparel, sustainable clothing production is of utmost importance.
Fashion forward. Sustainable. Locally.
Prange Apparel may have opened its 6,000-square-foot facility at 2543 B. Lebanon Pk. early last year, but Nashville’s history and commitment to independent designers goes back much further.
Founded in 2013 by owner Megan Prange, the company focuses on the cut and sew of garments and received the 2019 Nashville Fashion Forward Fund Award.
We sat down with Prange to talk about her support of Music City’s independent designers, the origins of her company, and how she embraces ethical ways to create clothing.
How did Prange Apparel start?
I went to school for fashion design and I really loved tailoring. I had done costumes before – I was in theater before school – so after college I decided to work with some designers here in Nashville and some companies that needed product development. They would give me their sketches and I would help them with patterns and cuts and get a finished product. Then they realized, ‘Okay, okay, now what?’ We can’t go overseas and make 2000 pieces or they would have to sell everything themselves and that didn’t allow them to be able to grow their business and work on marketing or more designs. They were stuck sewing everything, so I decided to open Prange Apparel.
What type of clients does Prange Apparel usually work with?
So we have a lot of clients. We have them at different levels. We have some clients who work with us on a weekly basis. They place an order every week, we do a few hundred units for them every week or twice a week and we just have a production site separate for them. We have several hundred clients, but not all of them order every week.
What does Prange Apparel specialize in manufacturing?
Right now our specialty is women’s boutique clothing, which is a lot of blouses, dresses, pants – things you would see in a boutique. It usually sells at a slightly higher price and has nicer fabrics, a nicer finish. We hope to add some more categories as we grow.
Are more people becoming aware of the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry?
I think so. I think it’s a very, very slow transition, but people are becoming much more aware of it. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, we’re so conditioned to say, ‘Oh, it’s on sale’, ‘It’s cheap’ or ‘I got more for less’. We really need to constantly change our mindset and understand the impact of fast fashion and the impact of overseas manufacturing. And not every production abroad is bad. But how can you monitor it? It is very difficult, so we have to give back as much as we can to solve these problems.
What is Innovate by Prange Apparel?So with Innovate by Prange Apparel, which is our product development company, designers can access it on all different levels. I can come up with an idea. I can come up with a sketch or pattern. We will sit down with our team and then walk them through the process.
Who are the independent designers you work with?
I call them independent designers. They are not affiliated with any major label and have their own brands. They can range from people just making a few things on Etsy to companies making several million dollars a year. Small independent designers may still have a multi-million dollar business, but they sell mostly either directly to consumers on their websites or they sell to wholesale boutiques and then the boutiques sell for them.
Do you work mostly with independent designers from Nashville?In fact, most of our designers come from other countries. We have a really great program, so we can work remotely with designers. We hold a lot of Zoom meetings. We can even make Zoom fittings. I don’t see myself ever pulling my business out of Tennessee or Nashville if we expand in the future. We’re just going to keep expanding here in Nashville, maybe get another facility in the future.
What role can consumers play to help promote sustainability in the world of fashion?
Designers can do their part to create really great thoughtful ethical fashion, but it’s up to the consumer to really do the work… People always ask me, ‘So, where should I shop?’ And I say: ‘You have to do some digging. You have to find those brands, but when you find them, support them and buy from them.’
You need to change your mindset when it comes to the prices of these garments because they will cost more. But in the end you get something that is even more amazing and that means something to you. So without consumers changing their minds and realizing what you have to do to support these smaller businesses, none of what we do matters.
I would just like to point out that everyone should focus on buying from small designers whenever possible.