By Kathleen Cooper
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)
When the rains return this fall, a made-in-Tacoma original raincoat could take its place among the sea of slickers around town.
An idea that started with longtime clothing boutique owner Sonja Silver now connects more than a half-dozen female entrepreneurs including an illustrator, a custom sewer, a photographer, a filmmaker, and the owner of a factory that produces clothing for first responders around the world.
“I’m the perfect person to make this coat,” Silver said. “I’m a Northwest person. I’ve been watching women and how things fit” for years through her shop Sonja — Clothes to Live In.
Silver described the coat as a “mashup” of nine of her favorite coats. Essentially she wanted to bring a little swing back into what has become a very functional, but not very fashionable, garment. The coat’s qualities are inspired by her grandmother: It’s useful, beautiful, hardworking and has your back.
She has noodled on the idea of a better raincoat since 2000, Silver said, but began working in earnest more than a year ago after seeing a raincoat advertised in a magazine for $385.
“I thought, ‘what?’ I bet I could make it for less than that and make it something’s really useful,” she said. “I’m a big believer in taking something useful and making it beautiful.”
Silver’s online campaign to raise $20,000 to launch the raincoat’s production ends Tuesday (June 16), and it already has raised more than $18,000. At least 60 people have pledged at least $240 on Kickstarter, which will buy one of the coats.
If that still seems pricey, it’s because most Americans don’t factor in the “price per wearing” of any given item of clothing, Silver said. For example, a woman might not blink at spending $300 for a party dress she’ll wear one time. But a good coat that lasts for years could be a steal at twice the price.