Cleveland Rocks — And So Does This Clothing Manufacturer

Posted by elizabethbb on 07/11/2014

The GOP picked Cleveland, and now LeBron is heading back. While time will tell if Democrats will follow the lead, we’re happy in the meantime to shine the spotlight on one manufacturer helping to lead Cleveland’s manufacturing renaissance.

Forma Apparel Manufacturing launched at the end of 2013 when Amanda Cowsert, Minh Suster, and Foroozan Alaeddini could not find anyone who could stitch clothing to meet their high standards. So they decided to launch their own company, managing its marketing, operations and everything in between.

And though it may be small now, they’re looking to expand to 15-20 people. Alaeddini recently told the Plain Dealer:

We really had a heart for bringing manufacturing back to Cleveland. We really feel that we are providing a service that’s needed and rarely offered to designers.”

The three women behind Forma Apparel first worked together in 2011 for Orgava, a European-inspired, eco-friendly girls’ clothing line. They designed the fashions and sewed some samples that were sent out to big factories for mass production. 

The imported Italian wool returned completely ruined; the final products were misshapen and not well made. This inspired Forma Apparel Manufacturing to create products that will last for generations.

“Manufacturing requires a lot of technical knowledge; knowing about sizing, pattern-making, fit, and what needs to be done,” Suster said.

Forma Apparel Manufacturing handles every step of the process, from materials assembling to ironing and labeling, until a finished product reaches its final destination.  Suster's family skill in working with garments — her mother worked as a seamstress for about 30 years at the former Joseph & Feiss co. garment factory in Cleveland — in addition to Forma Apparel’s high standards, have driven the brand to place an emphasis on getting the details right.  Suster has even put some pieces deemed sub-par back on the crafting table.

The project-based brand’s attention to detail and to commitment to quality has been made possible only through a direct relationship between designer and manufacturer. As Alaeddini said:

“The community we’re in at one point was huge in manufacturing. There’s a lot of women who are very creative and who want to bring manufacturing back to Cleveland. I kept saying, ‘Why put the most valuable end product of your business in someone else’s hands when you know you could do better?'"


AAM Intern Lauren Pak authored this post.

Photo by Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer.

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