The creative director of Slightly Alabama on heritage
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Designed and manufactured in West Village, NY, Slightly Alabama's leather goods r made w/ a craft that goes to traditional leather workmanship, w/ a know-how from centuries and centuries ago by the world's best craftsmen. All handmade and no rushing, guys. After all, it is designed to reeeally last. ✋🛠🤚
We spend sum time w/ the creative director Dana Glaeser to talk about fashion, passion, and time — and how it all collapses in leather gears.
Come on over and read full interview right here. 👇
We understand you started your career, started in the advertising industry and you decided to leave that behind and start a clothing brand. Why did you make that decision?
I think part of it is just anybody that gets a certain point in their lives is they're asking what makes them happy and what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
So it's probably not uncommon. Acknowledgment through the career crisis, call it that. And just kind of started doing some internal soul searching 💆♂️ or whatever. And at some point, I think part of that kind of introspection and etc. like kinda of let me on a path and like I've gone to a traditional corporate path, career and such a college that I think there was kind of this longing to get back to like working with my hands and being away from so everything that represented kind of traditional corporate like environment and working with my hands.
Something I grew up doing, something that my own has cultivated in me from a very early age. And I think in many ways that just kind of there was a passion to kind of start doing that every day. And so I basically just asked myself the question, if I could... do I think I can make a living at it, kind of designing and making things. I had a background and kind of as a hobbyist, but I made a decent amount of money doing carpentry, furniture design when I was a little bit younger and I kind of just lean on that kind of skill set, had a passion for design making bags originally and for some strange reason and kind of took off from there.
So that was always in your blood in a way?
I think so, yeah. I kind of grew up just in a family of makers and people who worked with their hands always.
You know, my mother, my grandfather... everybody in my family I can think of. I always enjoyed it. They saw it more as kind of a hobby and craft than as like a profession.
And so I just kind of grew up with a lot of the skills and that training, I guess I just decided to take it from a hobby and something more of a profession. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So here we are. Where are you from again? So I was from... Originally, I was born in Tennessee, but grew up in North Alabama, which is where my family's from. And then when I was 10, I moved to a little town called Titusville in central Florida📍 , but spent most of my time back and forth between Titusville and Sheffield, Alabama.
So, would you say that Alabama brings a lot of inspiration to what. you know, what you make?
I don't know that necessarily. I would say Alabama in itself does. I mean, I think the design inspiration comes from a lot of other places for me. But I think it's kind of like my growing up there.
I spent my time there like just kind of a world of working with your hands and being out in nature and and being around those kind of craftsmen. And I think that's what the Alabama side of it comes from. It's just that's kind of what gives inspiration to want to do what I do. But as far as the design inspiration, it comes from somewhere probably. Different.
It's the actual work itself that it is that.
And why do you think you mentioned a lot that you would like to have your career based on making things with your hands? Do you think that expresses better who you are? You know, like actually being hands-on and designing things and making things like you are doing rn?
Yeah. Instead of writing on a computer, for example. I think in many ways it's more about the fact that it's the only thing I know how to do well, and so I don't know if it's necessary. The best quote unquote expression of myself, I don't necessarily know what that means, but I do it well or well enough, so I enjoy it. And I think that's it, it's making most of it.
I definitely use sewing machines now, but we still do a lot of handmade stuff. It's just that sewing machines allow you a lot more creative freedom than working with your hand, the hand sewing does and vice versa. Sometimes there's things that you can achieve from hand sewing that you can't achieve from a sewing machine. So we we do both now and that's just kind of giving me a larger combination of both.
And why did you decide to work with the lab primarily? When you decided to create the brand and everything. When or how did leather come into it?
I had a background in woodworking and I think in some ways leather is very similar to wood. It's a kind of a natural material.
It requires design, construction and understanding how the material itself works and different leathers work in different ways. So that's kind of a fun, creative challenge of solving that, like how we want to achieve a certain design execution, like not all. You can't just use any leather to achieve that. That's kind of a fun thing.
But I just think the other side of it is I just like leather myself, kind of grew up nowhere in jeans and a T-shirt. You know, in leather boots. I just think it feels kinda cool and masculine. It's a guy thing, fly fishing and motorcycles⛽️🏍 and mothers, which is kind of superficial and silly, but that's the truth. I just like it myself.
I think many designers in general, they start by making stuff that they want to make for themselves, right?
And that's kind of how it goes from there. I started making stuff myself, and that's the thing I enjoy. The thing I think it's cool about leather that has this sense of like longevity, it has the sense of lasting well beyond you.
And I think there's this idea of heirloom gifts, these things that my grandfather passed down to me. Right? And I think there's something cool about that story that comes with a leather piece, whether or not you pick up an old vintage piece, which actually has that story written into it, or you pick up a piece, it's made to look vintage. And I think that's something that leather offers that few other things offer again in the clothing category. Certainly nobody passes on their t-shirt to their grandchildren. That's just not going to happen.
I think from a standpoint of like of knowing that you're creating something special, that's just really nice to know that I'm not just creating another consumable that goes up to the world, which we are, but we're creating something that's meant to last for a very, very, very long time.📆
And you mentioned that you think leather feels cool, it feels good and so on. Now, what do you think of Slightly Alabama? What comes to your mind? Is it like a brand made for people to feel cool? Or do you have a certain purpose that you want to achieve with the brand or, you know, it's like a lifestyle?
It's a great question. I think the truth of the matter is that I've given enough thought to that kind of stuff. Honestly, I think that somebody else who knows me and knows my brain inside now can tell me, can answer that question and say, well, this is what you're actually doing. I don't even know I'm doing it. You know what I mean? So I think that, trying to answer that now, I think it's definitely a bit more of a rugged brand.
It's not a dressed up fancy brand at all. I think what's important is that when people see the brand and see the products, that they know that there's a clear appreciation for the craftsmanship, the skill that goes into it. It's not just about a product that appeals to a trend, and it's not something that we've created that's supposed to look like it was easily done or done super fast or whatever. When you see a product, you should know that must've taken a long time to make. There's an appreciation🕶 for that.
I think in many ways the brand represents that slowing down and not going in the opposite of fast fashion. Maybe that's kind of what it's really about and maybe that's kind of the link to Alabama and the country and growing up in a small rural area.
But now that I've thought enough about it. I mean, what I hear you saying, it's... it sounds as it's a brand you put a lot of passion into it, you know, especially means liking a lot something and taking the time.
It's about being purposeful and thoughtful, whatever. Like as a consumer myself. I'm pretty good, I take a very long time to make a purchasing decision. And if I buy something, I'm part of what's gone into my purchase decision is like: will this last for a very long time?
And that doesn't and that's not because I'm trying to be like frugal financially. And it's not because I'm trying to be like anti-consumerism, it's ominously it just comes from like a bipartisan thing. I want to know it's going to stay with me for a while if it's missing something like the boots I have on. I think he's seven years old right now. I think I'd purchase them purposely because I wanted a pair of boots that I would wear for a very, very long time, you know? So I think, like everything in my life for me is it has been about making those kind of very thoughtful purchasing decisions and not basing him on a trend. But that doesn't mean that I don't pay attention to style and design. Right now, I wear raw denim because I want a pair of jeans that they're gonna wear for three or four or five years, which I still wear this day.
And I think that's kind of cool to know that that's more. It's become an expression of who you are , right? You know, if I were really hyper trendy fashions that change every single six months, that says something about. Possibly the values that I have outside of the the kind of person you invest heavily into the purchasing decision and buy things that are going to last and grow with me, that I'm looking for that nurturing a relationship over a long period of time and that extends well beyond my purchasing.
Yes to all of dat, Dana. 💡