Founder's Letter Archive Collection

I started The Sleep Shirt in 2012 on a whim. I had an idea for a nightshirt design that I thought would be a good one, so I had a few versions made up in Mexico and asked my florist friend in Vancouver to sell them in her store. (Yes, our very first batch was made in Mexico! But every shirt since then has been made in Canada.)

We’ve come a long way in the past 10 years and as we reach this milestone anniversary, I feel enormous pride at what we’ve achieved as a brand. I wanted to plan something special for the anniversary, and after almost two years of work, I am so pleased to introduce the Archive Collection.

The original Sleep Shirt was inspired by a 19th century chemise I found in a vintage clothing stall at Spitalfield’s Market in London. For Archive, I looked for similar inspiration. I bought a selection of beautiful old nightgowns and nightshirts from an antique clothing dealer in France, and these beautiful pieces are what inspired the anniversary collection. The details, construction, and materials were absolutely stunning, and we used them as a starting point for the collection.

Delphine and Severine, the heavy lace pieces in the Archive Collection, were inspired by French priest’s aubes, which was the traditional dress of a priest. An old men’s nightshirt, made from a single piece of heavy linen, was the starting off point for the Martine nightshirt, while Clementine and Alexandrine both have details taken from old nightgowns. We tried to replicate these elements but with a modern touch, and the result, I believe, is a beautiful, thoughtful collection that’s both contemporary and reminiscent of old times.

Next, I found a wonderful, family-owned lace manufacturer in Germany who sold us both of the lace fabrics used in the collection, which are GOTS-certified organic. The fabrics for Archive are mostly woven in Italy and Portugal, and I selected materials that closely resembled the vintage pieces I had collected: heavy linens, super lightweight cottons, and soft, luxurious flannels. Like everything else we make, the entire collection has been manufactured in Vancouver, in part by a local seamstress with experience in couture skills, as well as by our local manufacturer, who has been making our good quality items for years.

While we’ve done our best to make this collection a special one, I do have one regret: not offering it in a larger size range. Late last year, we launched a new size, X PLUS, which has been very well received. As it happens, the patterns, grading, and production orders for the Archive Collection were finalized long before we had launched X PLUS, which means the anniversary collection is only available in up to a PLUS, or XXL/XXXL. If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would definitely be to ensure the size range for this special collection was more inclusive.

Regardless, I hope that you agree with me when I say that I believe the collection is a representation of what we stand for as a brand: beautiful, timeless pieces that look good, feel good, and age well, wherever you wear them. I hope you love the Archive Collection as much as I have loved bringing it together. Thank you for all of your support over the last 10 years.

- Alexandra