Pyjamas As Daywear Forever: We Catch Up With The Ladies Behind General Sleep

by: Courtney Sanders | 11 months ago | Features

Image: Greta Van Der Star (L) and Bailey Meredith (R), the two pals behind General Sleep.

We all know that pyjamas are the ultimate in comfort, therefore we would all like to wear our pyjamas everywhere we go, it’s just that, unfortunately, pyjamas aren’t usually going-outside-appropriate (unless it’s to the corner store, which is appropriate, always).

Enter Kiwi mates Bailey Meredith and Greta Van Der Star who, through their new label, General Sleep, are doing exactly what the name would suggest, and creating sleepwear which is general-purpose-wear too. The pair’s collection of sets and separates feature classic pyjama-style shirts, swing tops, and wide leg pants, in handwoven linen-cotton, keeping our comfort and cost-per-wear games strong. We caught up with Bailey and Greta to discuss what made them decide to launch General Sleep, what their thoughts on the current state of the fashion industry are (they’re both industry vets), and how they would like to see production and consumer habits change for the better.

Courtney Sanders: You guys both have pretty impressive backgrounds in the fashion industry. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been working on?
Greta: I've worked freelance for about 7 years now across fashion and food styling, and for about 4 or 5 years in photography working with fashion brands including Penny Sage, Sherie Muijs, and Kate Sylvester. Prior to that I was hanging out in London working as a fashion assistant on a magazine.

Bailey Meredith: I have spent the last 7 years working at Kate Sylvester. I’ve had a number of roles within the company, my most recent being the Business Operations Manager where I oversaw a number of departments including sales, marketing, retail and production. I have just finished up as I am relocating to Melbourne with my husband.

Image: the Sunday Set in Stripe

Courtney: What led the two of you to start a business together?
Greta: Sharing a bottle of wine in front of the fire one winter evening! And realising Bailey would be an incredible business partner: organised, creative and energetic. I also desperately wanted some new pyjamas! Ha!

Bailey: I have always admired Greta's aesthetic and overall awesomeness. We became friends while I was working for Kate Sylvester and would talk about things we loved and how cool it would be to work on a project together. One night over a few glasses of red wine we discussed our love of pyjamas and how we couldn't find any in the market that we wanted to spend our weekends in.

Image: the Classic Set in Ivory.

Courtney: Why ethical pyjamas?
Greta: If I was going to start a brand that put more stuff into the world, it had to be considered and as friendly to the environment as we could make it. There are enough products out there, but we couldn't find any sustainable sleepwear. We're happy that we can provide another option through General Sleep

Bailey: We have a shared interest in ethically-produced goods, and wanted to ensure we followed these ideals when it came to making our sleepwear.

Courtney: Tell us a little bit about getting General Sleep Store up and running: how did you decide on the silhouettes and styles you wanted to create? How easy or difficult was it to find sustainable versions of the fabrics you wanted to use?
Greta: It was a long, slow burn. After we designed our styles, we took our time with the fit to make sure they were comfortable and had room to move, yet still able to be worn out of the house. They needed to serve both purposes. We took inspiration from a well loved ‘70s sleep shirt from Bailey’s Mum, and also some patterns my Mum had designed for her store in the ‘90s. We wanted to keep the collection small, four classic styles that we can build on slowly. At the moment we're making all of our pieces in cotton-linen which is hand woven in our factory, and we're looking for more producers to work with for some other fabrics. It's all a very slow process! Our fabric takes 30 days to weave, then it's hand cut and sewn into our pj's.

Bailey: Our development process was long. We spent a lot of time and energy on finding the right fabric and manufacturer who had a shared vision and could work with our requirements. We needed to ensure that our fabric had the perfect balance of comfort and durability (we move A LOT in our sleep) while still maintaining the high level of quality we expected. When it came to design Greta and I collaborated on a number of ideas regarding what we wanted to wear. Our sleep shirt was inspired by both our Mothers and the Sunday Set was designed as the perfect outfit you could wear outside of the house – whether it was going to get coffee or hoping on a plane. You felt like you weren't necessarily in your pj's.

Image: the Sleep Shirt in Pencil Grey.

Courtney: What are the major concerns you both have with the fast fashion-driven fashion industry of today?
Greta: The environmental cost: the waste going into the environment from producing synthetic fabrics, the pollution from dyes, the carbon cost of shipping, and then the short life span of poorly-made garments which end up as landfill because you can't recycle fabric with a synthetic element. Also the human cost: people slaving to make a $3 t-shirt gives me the creeps. I think people have become disconnected with the process of making a garment, and when you see such cheap clothing it lowers your expectations for how much they are worth. If we went back to making our own clothing, people would quickly realise why sustainable fashion comes with a higher price tag.

Bailey: Of course the impact it is having on our environment but also the fact it’s so disposable. Fast fashion is cheap and it’s trend based so there’s no emotional connection to the product on any level, whether that’s to the designer, the producer, or the seller. These pieces are so easily discarded which means they have a tiny life span and because of the way they were made and the materials used to make them, they end up as landfill.

Image: Sunday Set in Ivory.

Courtney: How would you like to see the industry change?
Greta: I'd like to see brands shift away from using synthetic fabrics, and also slow down, produce smaller, considered collections, that don't have a limited shelf life.

Bailey: I think if everyone was a little more conscious of their choices, whether it’s caring about who made their clothes, what their clothes are made from, how their clothes are made, you would begin to see a shift in people’s choices for the better. 

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