How Prange Apparel is reinventing garment manufacturing in … – Tennessean


Fashion-forward. Sustainable. Local.

Prange Apparel may have opened its 6,000-square-foot facility at 2543 B. Lebanon Pk. early last year, but it’s Nashville history and commitment to independent designers goes back much further.

Founded in 2013 by owner Megan Prange, the business is focused on cut and sew garment manufacturing and received the 2019 Nashville Fashion Forward Fund Award.

We sat down with Prange to talk about her support of Music City’s independent designers, her company’s origins and the way she embraces ethical ways to create clothing.

How did Prange Apparel start?

I had gone to school for fashion design, and I really had a taking to pattern making. I had previously been doing costume work — I was in theater before school — so after college, I decided to work with some designers here in Nashville and some companies who needed product development. They would give me their sketches, and I would help them with samples and patterns and get them a finished product. Then, they realized, ‘Okay, well, now what?’ We can’t go overseas and get 2,000 pieces made or they’d have to sell everything themselves, and it didn’t allow them to be able to grow their businesses and work on marketing or more designs. They were stuck sewing everything, so I decided to open up Prange Apparel.

What type of client does Prange Apparel typically work with?

So, we have a lot of clients. We have them on different tiers. We have some clients that work with us on a weekly basis. They place an order every single week, we do a couple hundred units for them every week or bi weekly and we just have a production slot set aside for them. We have several hundred clients, but not all of them are ordering every single week.

What does Prange Apparel specialize in manufacturing?

Right now our specialty is women’s boutique apparel, which is a lot of blouses, dresses, slacks — things that you would see in a boutique. It tends to retail at a little higher price point and has nicer fabrics, nicer finishings. We’re hoping to add some more categories as we grow.

Are more people becoming aware of the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry?

I think so. I think it’s a very, very slow transition, but people are becoming a lot more aware of it. But at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, we’re so conditioned to be like, ‘Oh, it’s on sale,’ or ‘It’s cheap,’ or ‘I got more for less.’ We really need to continuously change our mindsets and realize the impact of fast fashion and the impact of producing overseas. And not all producing overseas is bad. But how can you monitor it? It’s very difficult, so we need to bring as much back over here as we can to fix those problems.

What is Innovate by Prange Apparel?So with Innovate by Prange Apparel, which is our product development company, designers can come in at all different levels. They can come in with an idea. They can come up with a sketch or a sample. We’ll sit down with our team, and then we’ll walk them through the process.

Who are the independent designers you work with?

I call them independent designers. They aren’t attributed to a larger label, and they have their own brands. They can range from people who are just making a couple of things off of Etsy to companies who are making a couple million dollars a year. Small independent designers can still have a multimillion-dollar business, but they sell mainly either direct to consumer on their websites or they sell to boutiques wholesale, and then the boutiques sell for them.

Do you mostly work with Nashville-based independent designers?Actually, most of our designers come from other states. We have a really great program, so we can work long distance with the designers. We do a lot of Zoom meetings. We can even do Zoom fittings. I don’t see ever taking my business out of Tennessee or out of Nashville if we expand in the future. We’re just going to keep expanding here in Nashville, maybe getting another facility in the future.

What role can consumers play to contribute to promoting sustainability in the world of fashion?

Designers can do their part with making really great thought-out ethical fashions, but it’s up to the consumer to really do their work … People always ask me, ‘Well, where should I shop?’ And I’m like, ‘You do have to do some digging. You have to find these brands, but when you find them, support them and shop from them.’

You have to change your mindset when it comes to the pricing of these garments because they are going to cost more. But, in the end, you get something that’s so much more amazing and means something to you. So without the consumers changing their minds and realizing what you have to do to support these smaller businesses, then none of what we do matters.

I would just want to put that out there that everybody should really focus on buying from small designers whenever possible.

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