October 2012

Cut Loose Prospers in Bayview

By Simon Stahl

As fashionistas shop for their fall wardrobe, one Bayview-based label offers a unique approach to fashion. Produced at their factory near Third Street, Cut Loose’s collection for women conveys a relaxed sophistication, with strong colors and flowing lines. But what sets the business apart is its fabrication process. Each article on offer is sewn before being dyed in any of 19 seasonal colors. This approach enables boutiques to customize their orders, with colors applied to their specifications, selected from 323 fall combinations. Customers can mix and match various dyed-to-order articles to create endless, uniquely layered possibilities.

Cut Loose was started by two European expatriates in 1977, who sold drawstring pants and T-shirts on Fisherman’s Wharf. Without dressing rooms, the clothing had to be one size, so it was literally cut loose to accommodate a range of body types. Cut Loose distinguished itself from the many T-shirt outlets that persist along that tourist boulevard by hand-dying garments in unique, vibrant colors in a Victorian claw-footed bathtub.

From the bathtub Cutloose graduated to old washing machines with mangles on top, and from there to customized machines and computerized dye vats to ensure consistent color. Now the company — which is still owned by its original founders — has a store in Solana Beach, north of San Diego, a factory outlet on Valencia and 23rd streets, and its clothing is sold across North America and the United Kingdom.

True to its San Francisco roots, Cut Loose demonstrates its commitment to environmental sustainability with the use of non-toxic dyes and minimalist, recycled, shipping materials. The rigorous coloring process, where garments are soaked in near-boiling vats of non-toxic dye, consumes substantial amounts of salt. This produces brackish waste water, which the company is careful to neutralize to prevent corrosion to the City’s pipes. Even fabric scraps are recycled into smaller accessories, like scarves, napkins, and scrunchies, which are offered for sale at the factory outlet.


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