Phillip Proyce’s Lady White Co. is a California brand, top to bottom. For his vintage-inspired t-shirts, the cotton comes from Northern California, the fabric is milled and woven in Southern California, the recycled paper packaging is screen printed in Southern California and the shirts are cut and sewn in Los Angeles. “The most difficult part of producing in California is the labor costs,” Proyce said. “But at the same time that’s why we are making it here. Everyone touching our product is getting paid fairly and legally.”
Not only is Lady White Co. an example of local and fair manufacturing, it also offers some of the best t-shirts available. The shirts are made from tubular jersey (with no side seams), feature a doucle-stitched narrow collar and include a Brown’s Beach-inspired chest pocket. For those interested in the details, it’s hard to beat this shirt. “The details go as far as thread size, stitch per inch, and even what brand of needle is in the sewing machine,” Proyce said. Recently, I talked to Proyce more about his West Coast technique.
Q: What inspired you to create Lady White Co.?
A: I was inspired by vintage sportswear and wanted to make products that embody that same level of function with quality fabrics.
Q: How does the history of Californian sportswear play into your designs and ideas?
A: American athletic wears have always seemed to properly marry the idea of form and function; that was my initial draw to them. My designs and ideas are rooted in sportswear but not limited to that. I’d say its mainly the vintage fabrics and details that get me started and then I take it from there.
Q: What was important about keeping the process California-based?
A: Keeping production close to home is the only way we could handle the business. We can drive to each and everyone of our manufacturers within thirty minutes. Being involved in all processes helps us control quality from start to finish.
Q: What inspired the pocket?
A: The pocket design is inspired by a vintage workwear/sportswear brand call Brown’s Beach. Many of their products adorned this pocket design in a wool fabric from the 1920s to ’60s. These Brown Beach jackets were the catalyst for my love for vintage clothing, so I found it necessary to work it into our story.
Q: Tell me about the branding.
A: The branding pays homage to the brilliant paintings that were used in most midcentury advertising. I want people to know its a product made in USA without a blazing flag across the packaging. The labels, hangtags, and packaging all play into the overall branding and we put an equal amount of effort into each aspect . If you look at enough vintage, you can quickly identify if it’s an American garment regardless of the branding. We strive for that same connection with our goods.