We are hiring!

Part Time Sales Assistant Required

five8ths is a small shirt making company located in Maboneng, and we are seeking an enthusiastic sales assistant who can work weekends. The successful candidate will have excellent communication skills, and a passion for as well as an ability to convey the qualities of artisanal clothing. She or he must also be competent with hand-sewing and ironing, with attention to detail and dedication to achieve the best results. The successful applicant will be required to work on Saturdays and occasional Sundays. If she/he has the sewing ability and interest, up to two more days per week will be available to take on sewing tasks. Competitive pay.

Duties will include:

  • Communicating with potential clients about the work we do at five8ths and what sets us apart

  • Finishing, including hand-sewing of buttons, ironing, and preparing shirts for delivery

  • Shop management, including cleaning and managing inventory

  • Processing sales

  • Taking measurements for new clients

  • Potential for increased sewing duties depending on skill level and interest


Qualities of the Applicant:

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Attentive to detail and maintaining order

  • Customer Service oriented

  • Genuine interest in “slow fashion”, art, or sewing

  • Confident, mature, responsible, open

  • Ability to concentrate and focus for extended periods of time

  • Ability to work weekends

  • Must have a valid South African ID or work permit

*The application process will include an interview and a sewing skills assessment.

For more information about five8ths, please see our website: www.five8ths.com

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV to the below email or physical address. Review of applications will begin immediately until the position is filled.


Workshop and Showroom
Maverick Corner
300 Commissioner Street

Introducing the five8ths Classic bowtie

Just in time for the holiday season, we are pleased to introduce a

new five8ths product, bowties

Ever since we have been making neckties, customers (and potential customers!) have been asking about bowties. We have taken the time to develop a bowtie that matches the quality and style of our shirts and neckties, and we are now ready to share it.

 We have started with a classic bowtie shape, also known as a "thistle" or a "butterfly" bowtie. This is a versatile shape that works well for a variety of occasions and face-shapes, and can be worn by men or women.

Our bowties are made by hand, in our Johannesburg workshop, of fine linens and cottons from Italy, Japan, and South Africa.

Our bowties are self-tie, rather than pre-tied. Self-tie bowties are more sophisticated, and allow the wearer to personalize the shape to fit his or her preference. They can be tied straight and neat, or left a bit less tidy. 

Our bowties are made with adjustable hardware, to fit a wide range of neck sizes. We are also happy to make the bowties in a custom size, by request.

You can find a range of bowties at our shop in Maboneng in Johannesburg or on our




In January, I had a chance to finish up and refine some details of the shop interior. It has finally come together in the way that I had envisioned it. It's an intimate space (12 square meters) that manages to contain my cutting table, sewing table, ironing station, tools, fabric, and racks. The cutting table is on wheels, which allows me to push it back and forth, giving extra space for shoppers on the retail side, or for myself on the working side, depending on the need at the time. The tailor's racks are on wheels as well, and have space below to store fabric and packaging. Everything now has its place, which creates order in my mind and supports efficient movements within the space. Not only is it a great studio/workshop, the space sets the tone for the products made within it, and with a quick glance around, you can see all the steps involved in making a shirt.


Many thanks to David Peter Simon, from Holiday Matinee, for stopping by my shop last week. He posted our interview  on the HM blog today, for small business Saturday, and included some of the photos that he took inside the shop in Johannesburg.

He starts the interview by saying that he heard my sewing machine clattering when he walked past the shop--for those who haven't been there, I have a window next to my sewing machine that has a little hatch that I open while I'm working. I do get a lot of passers-by who are eager to talk with me about my machine (usually because they also own one and love it). It's a 1972  Bernina 830 Record--widely viewed as one of the best sewing machines ever made. I'm very happy it captured his attention!

Here's one of David's photos that didn't make it into the blog:

And for those who are curious, I will be posting more shop photos once the finishing touches are complete...stay tuned.

retail/workshop space

five8ths has a new home! We will soon be moving into a new combined retail and workshop space in Johannesburg, South Africa!

My husband, Ben, started a new job here, so we will be living most of the year in what is affectionately known as “Jozi”. We have lived in Johannesburg on and off for the past ten years, so it is a place where I feel very much at home. From the climate, that is so similar to Colorado (where I grew up), to the group of friends who we've now known and grown close to over the past ten years, to the lifestyle that calms me down. Not to mention the high style-IQ on the streets. Jozi is a special place, and we are excited to be here. It was here in Johannesburg, during a previous stint, where I began to make custom and handmade clothing, spending my time learning and doing what I love while my husband has conducted research over the years.

My goal has always been to have a workshop space combined with retail, so that customers can see where and how five8ths clothing is made, and so that I can interact with clients in the context of the studio. I will be setting up shop at Maverick corner, a newly developed area of the Maboneng precinct, on the corner of Commissioner and Albrecht. five8ths will be next door to a women's/children's bespoke and handmade clothing boutique on one side, and an Ethiopian restaurant on the other side. Across the courtyard, there is a bespoke bicycle shop with adjacent workshop that will be open to the public for DIY bicycle maintenance. Maverick corner will also be home to a bar, a burger joint, a food-truck that sells sweets, and an African fabric emporium! Across the street, developments are near completion for the “Artisan Lofts” apartments, and within the next year, MOAD (Museum of African Design) will move in along side a restaurant/B&B/cigar bar. Right now, our space is in its final stages of renovation, and we will start moving in later in September. More details to come as the design of the space takes shape!

In addition to the shop in Johannesburg, five8ths will continue to operate as an online boutique, and carry stock in the US. US customers can still order online, and in-stock items will be shipped from there. New custom orders will be shipped mostly from South Africa, unless I am in the US at the time, but shipping prices will not change.

Looking forward to seeing both new and familiar faces in the shop and online!

A map of the Maboneng Precinct is below. five8ths will be located at Maverick Corner (#8).


five8ths on Loop de Luxe

I am thrilled to announce that five8ths is the first menswear designer to be featured in the online boutique, Loop de Luxe! Right now you will find five8ths pocket squares and the latest seven-fold necktie--it is made of the same Italian linen as the dotted navy pocket square. Shirts should soon be up, including the soon-to-be-unveiled short-sleeved designs for spring. Right now you can save 20% with code LOVELDL.

I have admired a few of the other designers on Loop de Luxe for some time, especially fellow-cyclist and womenswear designer Jill Aiko Yee and jewelry designer Laura Lombardi, so am happy to be in great company.

And for those who haven't seen the five8ths website in a while, it has been updated over the past couple months with (hopefully) more clear information and a slightly sleeker design. Let me know if you find any glitches. Thanks!

Brown twill Shacket

Last week I finished a custom order for a brown twill Shacket, for a 6'9" tall man. I flipped the facings so the wrong side faces out--it would almost look normal worn inside-out! I hadn't made a sample of this version of the Shacket, so wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I really like it!

Wirebrush shirt

The Wirebrush shirt really needs to be seen in person to appreciate its subtle design details. So, I'll try my best to bring you to it with this meager blog post.

The medium weight Italian cotton twill fabric is double-sided. The light grey outside looks slightly brushed due to its texture, and the inside is darker grey with a delicate peach-fuzz soft pile. I won't blame you if you decide to forego the undershirt and go straight shirt-on-skin.

Although the fabric is typical of a dress shirt, the styling is borrowed from old-time work shirts. The rounded-bottom pocket and sleeve plackets are reinforced with stitching in the shape of an X. The top-stitching is slightly contrasting in color to the grey twill fabric.
The shirt has a classic dress-shirt front band, and a standard-spread collar, but the collar stand is squared off at center front.
One of the first people to order a Wirebrush shirt got it in the mail and wrote with enthusiasm, "...I plan to wear the hell out of it!" Mission accomplished.

Shirts for Food

Denzel and I met a few years ago when we were both working at Baltimore Montessori Public Charter school. In the years since we met, we've each forged new paths (in the spirit of Montessori, of course!). Mine, obviously, has been to pursue the path of a clothing designer and maker, and Denzel's has been to become a local, sustainable farmer in Baltimore. Denzel's farm is called Five Seeds Farm, as he now has five children (one of whom was in my class a few years ago!). He started with a plot that used to be one of the many boarded-up row-houses in the city, and now has expanded to include another farm just north of the city line. They are "reviving the idea that farming is essential, artistic and exciting." Five Seeds Farm offers a June-November CSA, and so Denzel and I decided to do a trade: a CSA share for custom shirts and a necktie.

Not to mention that he's multi-talented--great farmer, great model!

Here's Denzel rocking his Shacket in Pigtown, Baltimore:

And here he is in his custom Red Clay shirt:

This is his final fitting at my studio (those trapezius muscles don't drape themselves...), in farmer gear, picking out his custom shirts and tie:

This upcoming summer's Five Seeds Farm CSA share is available for purchase now until February 15th at a discounted rate, and I can say based on last-year's bounty, it's going to be good. Denzel's farm features a lot of specialty veggies, such as mizuna, sorrel, and oyster root, all of which I became adept at incorporating into whatever pot or pan was heating on the stove. We ate really well last summer, and almost didn't have to plan our meals, because we could throw greens, roots, and fruits into the skillet and then wrap them in rice-paper or crepes, or saute and serve over rice, and all was delicious with very little effort. Very fresh, sustainably-grown grub.

Just wanted to share some pictures of the food that we made from the veggies from the share last season.  It was so much fun to be creative with each week's veggies.

Look how fun Denzel is! This is the friendly face you will see each Thursday if you sign up for his Five Seeds Farm CSA!

seven-fold necktie

Over the holiday season, five8ths launched a small line of accessories--neckties and pocket squares.

five8ths seven-fold neckties are made using the original method for making neckties. Rather than using a separate interlining fabric, often made of polyester or wool, I simply use one wide piece of fabric, and carefully fold it over onto itself seven times (like origami), matching the edges of each fold, until the tie is formed into its final shape. The resulting layers of fabric form the thickness of the tie, rather than the interlining "sponge". The tip and tail of the tie are hemmed and blind-stitched by hand.

Once folded, the tie is stitched up the back with one long slip-stitch, which is meant to slip back and forth along the length of the tie when the tie is tied and untied, as the tie is cut on the bias and will stretch during the tying process. The slip-stitch prevents the thread from breaking, keeping the folds secured in place. 

The tie is finished with a hand-stamped five8ths cotton twill label, and a keeper, which the tail may be tucked into for a put-together look, or left hanging free from for a looser feel.

The hand-labor involved in making each tie is significant--there is one short seam halfway between the tail and tip that is sewn with my sewing machine. Aside from that seam, the rest of the work is done with fingers, needle, and thread.

This tie digs-up and dusts-off what a tie is all about. A piece of fabric worn to accent, punctuate, form a look, express a personality. There is beauty in the simplicity of draping just one piece of fabric around the neck, rather than attaching a spongey-thing to the neckline. The weight is a bit different than an interlined tie, and the knot of a seven-fold tie is generally considered to be nicer.

Seven-fold ties are often made with silk, but the current five8ths line is composed of luxurious Italian linen, cotton, and cotton/linen blends. They hang out well between use.

Available in limited quantities online in four different fabrics: navy, charcoal, brown/tan stripe, and coco.

City Shacket

The City Shacket is the original denim Shacket's (shirt-jacket) cousin from the city. It's perfect for in-between weather as a jacket over another shirt, or as a heavy shirt to take off the chill on colder days.

Of all of my designs, this is my favorite. It's like solving a puzzle during construction, because of the challenge of getting the yoke/pocket flap layers together in the right order. My favorite part of the design process is figuring out how the pieces will fit together, and this one was a fun challenge. 

This season's City Shacket is a bit more sophisticated than the first one--it is made with a navy Italian brushed cotton with gray pinstripes, and is faced with gray medium weight Italian cotton twill. Cut short to be worn un-tucked (or tucked in, if desired), and with a little roominess in the body.

Size 46 is ready to ship, and I have enough fabric to make 10 2 one more.

Standard Sizing expanded

I'm delighted to announce that all five8ths shirts are now available in standard and semi-custom size 48! This new size, like the other sizes, is a tailored fit--not too loose and not too tight.

Here's the latest size chart that includes all measurements:

I'm hoping that with this new size, I will be able to accommodate more people who may fit well in standard sizes and who aren't interested in a fully custom pattern. Any requests for a size 50?

Holiday Heap this Saturday!

five8ths will be at Holiday Heap in Baltimore this weekend!

Holiday Heap 2012

December 1, 2012


2640 St Paul St
St John’s Church

Baltimore, MD

This is a last-minute addition to my holiday craft fair schedule, but I hope to get the word out to visitors from last year's fair. I believe my booth will be in the smaller, back room, and it should be filled with shirts, neckties, and pocket squares. I hope to see some friendly faces among the crowd!

RCF Holiday Market photos

It was so nice to see some familiar and many new faces at RCF Holiday Market this weekend! Thanks to everyone who made it to the fair.

five8ths ties and pocket squares made their debut at the fair, and will be available online soon.

My stylish assistant:

We celebrated a great weekend with a bowl of dumplings and noodle soup in Manhattan!

Fall/Winter 2012

The men's fall/winter line is now available and viewable online.

I have already made a few standard sizes of each design, and have enough fabric to make custom sizes as well. Please be in touch if you'd like to place an order.

If you'd like to see them in person or have measurements taken, you are welcome to make an appointment to visit my studio in Baltimore, or visit my booth at these upcoming fairs in Brooklyn, NY:

Renegade craft fair Holiday Market on November 17-18, 11AM-6PM

Brooklyn Night Bazaar on December 15, 6PM-Midnight

I am also happy to mail swatches of fabric if there's something you want to see in person but aren't able to meet me in Baltimore or Brooklyn.

Keep warm!

Human Scale

“The only way to make money in the perfectionist craftsperson industry, it seems, is to stop being a perfectionist craftsperson.” -ADAM DAVIDSONin the New York Times article, “What's a $4000 suit worth?”

The New York times printed an article earlier this month about bespoke suit-making. The article praised the skill of the featured bespoke tailor, but questioned the economics of the business. This tailor has all the business he can handle, but his salary is limited to how quickly he can make each suit. He has no employees and each suit takes about 2 weeks to make. Because there are few ways to speed up his process—-making a suit is skill dependent and each takes about the same amount of time—-his income will remain well below the income that a person buying one of his $4000 suits would probably make. Because he works in the way an artisan would have worked a hundred years ago, he is not making money in the way that much of the clothing industry does today.

These critiques are valid if making money is the main concern, but there are many benefits to the artisan, the customer and society at large that are important but can't be as easily measured as is profit. These are issues that I think about often as I build my business. Although I don't make bespoke suits, the work that I do also “has no economy of scale”--it is human-scale!

First and foremost, the artisan who spends his or her time perfecting skills and making beautiful, functional items out of the resources from this planet, finds fulfillment in the work, in the creating and problem solving she uses her energy and mind for every day. It's also worth mentioning the obvious—-that someone who feels fulfilled functions as a happy person in the world. I know that through my work I have found a happiness that has allowed me to give more to others, and in turn, others have reciprocated in a way that I didn't notice before.

Secondly, the consumer of the product buys something that has been well-made, well designed, that fits well, and that may last longer or bring more joy than another less carefully-made item. The buyer also has a way to get in touch with the maker—to have adjustments/corrections made, or to add to his/her collection.

Also, by making clothing or other artisanal products on a human scale, there is less waste involved in the process. One person can only make a finite amount of products with her time, which limits the amount of products that are made. Bespoke suits are made to order, which reduces waste even further, because a suit is not being made to hang on a rack, but made with the wearer in mind.

Another benefit to society is the continuation of human skills. In clothing, the art of creating a garment that fits around a specific body is an age-old study, one that continues to develop through apprenticeship and experimentation.

Because of the immense value of all of the above, the issue of making more money is minimized in my mind. Yes, I think that quality of life is very important and that if certain tools will speed up the process and allow for more free time while still maintaining the benefits described above, that's value added. But to sacrifice so many of the above benefits just to increase profits seems to me a waste of humanity—a waste of skill, a waste of materials, a waste of time.

I would like to fade out with a song, and there are so many to choose from. Jack Rhodes' “A Satisfied Mind” was sung by many people and here's Porter Wagoner's take: