Founder's Letter: Resort 2021

2020 has been quite the year. Like many of you, I’m missing spending in-person time with my family and friends around the world, and starting to crave connection in a way I never have before. This felt like the right time to pen a founder’s letter about the new collection, kind of like an editor’s letter you’d find at the front of a magazine, except that I’m not really an editor in that sense. I wanted to share some thoughts about our latest collection and give you some insights into the design and development process.

Before I get into the details of the Resort 2021 pieces, I would like to say thank you to the people who helped make this collection happen. I am so grateful to have the support of a fantastic team, hard-working suppliers, and loyal customers – you are the reason we made it through 2020. Thank you.

Back in the day, a Resort collection was traditionally a collection of winter clothing and beachwear sold to wealthy people who travel to their chalet or go on tropical holidays in the winter. Today, the Resort collection has taken on a different role - it is “Pre-Spring”, but it is also our holiday collection, and in many ways it is the winter collection, too. That’s why our Resort collections are always a mix of warm and cozy loungewear and lightweight cotton and linen pieces.

The Resort 2021 collection is a special one, not only am I excited about the gorgeous fabrics in the range, but the new shapes we have introduced are exciting for the brand, in particular the Long Slip Dress and the House Skirt.

Last year I was reading the comments of an Instagram post from a sustainable fashion influencer and several people commented about the lack of linen slip dresses available. We’ve never been a silky brand, so it never occurred to me to start making slips since I have always associated them with satin fabrics and lace trims, two materials we haven’t yet worked with here at The Sleep Shirt. But the idea of a linen slip dress was enticing, and my mind started to race with ideas. It would be bias cut, of course, and it would be quite traditional in its cut, too. But the point of differentiation for this piece was going to be the materials - good quality, classic, lightweight linens.

The development of this piece was easy (I have a great pattern cutter) but when it came to choosing fabrics, in addition to our black and white linens, we decided to go out on a limb and offer the slip dress in a new fabric, a blush-coloured Tencel twill. I am so excited about this shape (and it appears our customers are, too, since it has been selling really well) because it is so versatile. You can wear it as a nightie, you can wear it as a slip, and you can wear it as a dress. But it doesn’t have to be worn as a dress in the “sexy slip” sense, with high heels and fancy jewelry, I am planning on wearing it with thick tights, clunky boots, and chunky knitwear throughout the winter. It adds a bit of glamour to our everyday outfits, and it’s so comfortable (thank you, bias cut!)

Sometimes designers say they are inspired by gaps in their wardrobe, and this was very much the case with the House Skirt. I’ve got a very big selection of linen shirt dresses and nighties (which I wear as dresses) in my closet, but when summer comes, I always find myself neglecting my tops because I’m not satisfied with the selection of bottoms to wear in high summer. There is a time and place for denim cut offs and I’m not a fan of Bermuda shorts, so I felt a longing for a loose, chic, easy to wear linen skirts that could be slipped on and off at the beach or in the morning before breakfast when you are on vacation (remember vacations?)

The result was the House Skirt, a classic, easy to wear, comfortable skirt that’s available in a selection of cottons and linens. I just love how it looks with our t-shirts or a matching linen top, but I’ll also be wearing mine next year with a bikini top (at home on the patio) or a dressy top and statement jewelry when I’m dining al fresco with friends. We’ve cut the House Skirt on the long side, I plan on hemming around 2 inches off mine to get it to that perfect spot under the knee.

Some other personal favourites in the collection include the new Classic Shirt, and I’ve got a soft spot for it in the gorgeous Cream Silk Blend Stripe. This new shirt was inspired by one of the staff at my son’s school, she always wears skinny jeans and oversized shirts, and the cut of those shirts is always just right - a slight cocoon shape, short enough so that it doesn’t look frumpy, long enough to cover the bum, and with a nice curved hem for good measure. Since we are a sleepwear brand, we are selling this as a nightshirt, but I know I am not the only one who wears our nightshirts as shirts, the Classic Shirt is going to be my new go-to piece to throw over a pair of jeans. In the above photo, I'm wearing the Classic Shirt Blue Oxford Stripe, and below it is the Black Linen version.

And back to the silk - this is our first ever silk cotton blend and it really is nice - a gentle silky feel but with the ease of cotton. The other very new fabric for us is the Tencel twill - this is a weighty (but not heavy), smooth (but not silky) drapey Tencel that feels and looks luxurious. The rest of the collection is made from fabrics that our customers have come to expect from us - incredibly soft flannels, good quality cotton shirtings, beautiful linens, that amazing double gauze (in two new colours) and the classic fabrics we offer every season.

We’ve got two full length pieces in the collection, our popular Full Length Sleep Shirt as well as a new Sleeveless Full Length Dress which is impossible not to feel glamorous wearing. One of my staff was wearing a sweatshirt that inspired the Slip on Top, a loose-fitting top that can easily be worn with our pants, skirts, or shorts. And speaking of shorts, this season has also seen the relaunch of the Curved Hem Short, which I promise we will do better at keeping in stock for as long as it is popular.

I wanted to end with a pyjama story. I’ve never been much of a pyjama person myself, my go-to has always been the Long Sleep Shirt and 90% of the time, that’s what I sleep in. But a few weeks ago I was laying on our sofa watching TV, feeling uncomfortable in my jeans, and reflecting on the fact that the whole holiday season is likely to be spent in a similar fashion, given that big family get togethers and visits with friends are off the schedule this pandemic-ridden year.

I thought to myself, if I am going to be home over Christmas, I am going to need a cozy, chic pyjama set that I can wear through the day and that doesn’t make me feel like I haven’t bothered to get dressed. After a mental inventory of my wardrobe I realised I only have one full pyjama set from The Sleep Shirt, and it’s an old one that’s currently tucked away in a drawer in the countryside. It’s ridiculous that the owner of a sleepwear company doesn’t have drawers overflowing with pyjama sets, so I quickly reviewed the website and chose something to fill that gap. Our best selling pyjama set, the Short Sleeve Cropped Sleep Shirt and Lounge Pant, is currently available in a soft, luxurious cotton cashmere blend that’s an elegant tone of grey, so I chose that as my daytime uniform for this holiday season.

While I’d much prefer to be dressing up and celebrating with loved ones around crowded tables in warm houses decorated with festive lights, I’ve accepted the fact that this year is going to be a bit different, and celebrating will mostly likely be cuddling on the sofa with my husband and kids, watching movies, with our dog Wanda at our feet. At least I’ll be chic and cozy in my cashmere blend pyjamas.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season.