Steel City Pride highlights local creativity and stylish ingenuity within Pittsburgh’s own fashion design community. Each column selects one local brand to profile. First up is the tech-savvy design duo, Megan Dietz and Kelly Metzler of Wear the Shift.
Wear the Shift is a Pittsburgh-based startup that creates custom, eco-friendly, shift-style dresses, skirts, and slips in a variety of fabrics (both vintage and new). Their style philosophy matches their commitment to the environment. The emphasis is on quality, not quantity.
The two friends came up with the idea to start the line when they found themselves lamenting the lack of well-fitting, stylish, eco-friendly clothes available for purchase. Because the design duo is no stranger to technology (Dietz is a software developer and Metzler is a graphic designer) they were able to develop an algorithm that generates a custom pattern for each customer based on their unique measurements. From that pattern a garment is produced. The innovative process eliminates overstock and excess.
Wear the Shift’s Megan Dietz was kind enough to answer some questions about their line and the ways that Pittsburgh inspires it. Read the interview below:
Jessica: Describe the Wear the Shift customer.
Megan: It’s funny, we realized during our beta test at the beginning of the year that a huge proportion of our customers are in academia — professors, researchers, grad students. It makes sense in that we try to make our clothes thoughtfully, so people who like to think are attracted to them.
J: What is the geographical reach of Wear the Shift’s customer base so far? Are you international? Do you aspire to be?
M: So far, we’ve sold garments to folks all over the US, and we’ve had a few international orders from England and Australia. We’re happy to make clothes for whoever wants them, no matter where they are.
J: What has the local response been to Wear the Shift?
M: It’s been wonderful! Everyone we talk to has great suggestions on where to get vintage fabric, or someone they know who sews beautifully, or ideas on how we can grow our business. And we’ve met a lot of great new people!
J: Have any Pittsburgh customers requested fabric with a black and gold motif?
M: We were in our beta test during the last SuperBowl, and my business partner Kelly made herself a sparkly black and gold shift and a matching slip which were truly awesome!
J: Is there a Pittsburgh “style” and if so, how would you describe it?
M: We have lots of different people with lots of different interests in our city, and that’s reflected in our style choices. Obviously, we rock a lot of black and gold! I see a lot of great looks out there, from cute nerdiness to dramatic vintage to polished professional.
J: How does the city of Pittsburgh (its landscape, its weather, its residents, etc.) provide inspiration to you as designers?
M: I have always loved the look of this city — the old buildings and houses, our grand parks and dramatic topography. And there’s a unique feel here, too. We have so much history and so much energy invested in the future, and they crackle together in the air.
This has definitely inspired our business, which is focused on using technology and traditional custom sewing techniques to create a new and remarkably better way of doing fashion.
We’ve also been inspired by the amazing wealth of vintage textiles available in our area. Pittsburgh has some of the best thrifting on the planet!
Learn more about Wear the Shift, by visiting the website.
Jessica Ghilani blogs about (mostly her own) shopping and dressing in Pittsburgh and beyond at Consume or Consumed