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Behind the Scenes of Maddy James Vintage Loungewear

Friday, April 25, 2014

Last week, I shared the exciting news about Maddy James vintage inspired lounge wear. Today, owner and designer, Gina Kimmel is here to share her story about how Maddy James went from hunting for the perfect nightgown to launching her own clothing line. 

Maddy James will be launched only if the remaining start-up funding goal is met so please pop over to the Maddy James Kickstarter page to donate before May 7th and help this beautiful collection reach its launch date!

{Looking for the Perfect Nightgown}

I came up with this idea to produce vintage lounge wear about three years ago when I was looking for a vintage nightgown to wear to a 1930’s weekend in Catalina organized by the Los Angeles Art Deco Society. I’ve always loved vintage style of lounge wear and found so many delicious pieces, but I had a hard time finding things in my size, and what little there was in my size was so fragile I was afraid to actually wear it. Then I started doing an exhaustive search for reproductions, and what very little I found there was made from real silk charmeuse cut on bias, gorgeous but over $400 dollars. Ouch! 

Pledge $105 and be the first to lounge in the Katharine Jumpsuit from Maddy James

I had been involved in the costume world in Los Angeles for several years, was a member of CGW (costumers guild west) and dabbled a bit on TV shows. I’ve been a seamstress for over 30 years, and made countless period costumes. Due to my search and research for the Catalina event I became obsessed with vintage loungewear, and started making my own based off of vintage patterns I had collected over the years. That is when I had the idea that maybe other ladies were sick of sleeping in sweatpants, but also couldn’t find beautiful items that weren’t priced out of reach or really trashy (I love Fredrick’s of Hollywood, don’t get me wrong, but not practical for every night wear) It started to come to me that maybe I had an idea here. 

{The Best Looking Tomato in Town}
Around this time my grandmother, whom was such a lady and such a fashionista died and left me a small inheritance. I decided instead of using that money to pay bills or sock away, I would use it to do something special and something in her honor. And that is what gave me the where-with-all to take on this challenge.



The logo, which is a sexy tomato is in her honor, and drawn by my daughter, who is in art school. My gramps use to always say, “your grandma is the best looking tomato in town”. Every time I look at it I think of her. 

{Going Home to Chicago}
There were some big obstacles to overcome before I could get going. The first was that it was right about this time that my honey and I decided to move from LA back to my hometown of Chicago. Chicago isn’t exactly known as a fashion mecca in the United States and keeping all of the manufacturing in the United States is very important to me. However, moving home actually turned into a good thing. It freed me up to actually start something new, and there was just enough of the fashion industry left to make it doable. At one time Chicago was known as quite a powerhouse of fashion. Floreshiem men’s shoes originated here, as well as Spiegel Catalog and Ebony fashion magazine. (Sadly all gown now)

Pledge $70 to cuddle up with a good book in the Aubrey Pajama Set

The next obstacle did not really know much about the fashion industry, and although I’ve been making clothes for 30 years, I didn’t know to pattern or grade or any of the other important things to design a collection. So, back to school I went. I joined the fashion department at Harper Community College and there met some great ladies who were eager to help make this happen, and even greater teachers and mentors that customized the fashion program to fit my needs and were so supportive with the encouragement and with their great advice and hand holding.

 {Launching Maddy James Vintage Lounge Wear}
For the last year I’ve spent a lot of time into coming up with the first collection. I wanted it to be fashionable and glamorous and make every a women who slept in feel special. Yet, it had to be practical enough to wear every night. All of the fabrics I’ve chosen are luscious and cozy, but most important everything can be cleaned in a washing machine. The collection is sized small (4-6), medium (8-10), large 12-14) and extra large (14-16). Most of the pieces have some sort of elastic in them to give it even more give and comfort. 

Pledge $95 to relax in the luxurious and classic Chantal nightgown

After three long years I am ready to launch. I have all my ducks in a row. The designs and patterns completed, the fabric and trims sourced, the samples made, and the factories lined up. I am now doing a 30 day Kickstarter to help with the rest of the funding, and I am planning on having the first collection ready to sell on my web site (designed by my honey) starting in June. However, you can pre-order or purchase part of the collection through the Kickstarter page!

It’s been a crazy, scary, long, fun journey and it’s finally ready to go. A real tribute to my grandmother, and I know she would be really proud. 



Maddy James is a sponsor of Va-Voom Vintage. Please view my full disclosure page

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