by Grady Mitchell | Oilcloth is the perfect fabric for Vancouver. At least, that’s what Kassy Bailey says, and she ought to know. Her company Old Fashioned Standards specializes in making clothes, headgear, and accessories from the historic and rugged material.
Oilcloth got its start in the 18th century, back when canvas would be soaked in linseed oil before being made into sails. Fishermen and sailors made their work clothes from the material, valued for its resistance to the three W’s: water, wind, and wear. It has a double weft-and-warp weave that makes it not only durable right off the loom, but also highly water resistant. Once it’s been oiled, it’s essentially waterproof.
Kassy’s fascination with the stuff began as a teenager growing up in Cochrane, a small town outside Calgary. Back then she’d wax just about every item in her wardrobe. She came to Vancouver to study fashion design at VCC, and after graduating she set up Old Fashioned Standards. The name is an expression of her craft. She says it harkens back to a time before mass-production when most people had a trade, and you knew who to talk to for whatever it was that you needed.
Although oilcloth can be tough to work with – it doesn’t tolerate mistakes and chews up sewing machines – she loves the mix of practicality and style it offers. Like a pair of raw jeans, the stiff cloth softens over time, shaping itself to the wearer’s form and making for a truly perfect fit.
While Kassy mostly takes on custom orders, she also offers in-house items made to order, including a very stylish, functional, and spooky witch’s hat. No matter what she’s making, she takes the same approach: “Make it good and make it to last, for a purpose.”
To see more of her work, visit the Old Fashioned Standards website.