Introducing the Vineyard Vest (a saga)

Vineyard Vest Women's Sailing Vest Sapphire Blue Front View

Introducing the Vineyard Vest (a saga)

Sleek and feminine, deep front pockets, beautiful seam lines. A dropped back hem for coverage, shoulder construction for full range of motion, wind resistant, water resistant and just simply beautiful. Meet our Vineyard Vest. With soft fleece lining that’s wrapped in jewel colors of red, purple and sapphire blue, this original design is a functional gem – and a fashionable eye-catcher.

But that’s only part of the story. The Vineyard Vest came to life in a multi-chapter saga, one that involved some intrigue and mystery along the way.

Let’s start from the beginning. We took our time to get the Vineyard Vest right. First, we sketched the idea and developed precise requirements. Next came the fabric sourcing, which took months. We searched long and hard to find the right performance material for this piece; it had to be wind and water resistant, but also have the right amount of stretch. (really, why would anyone make a woman’s garment without “the right amount of stretch”?). Finally – eureka! – the optimal textile was found, and everything was then sent to the pattern maker, who performed her wonderful alchemy of art and science to translate our sketch into a 3 dimensional garment that perfectly fit a woman’s body.

But the process doesn’t end there. Pattern maker, sample maker, prototype. Model fittings, collaboration, adjustments. Change the neckline, ease out the underarm, move the pockets. The process continues, and the process starts again.

Sewing tools in the workroom - 12 Degrees West

New pattern, another sample, additional fittings, and more adjustments. And then again, more adjustments. And again, as needed. It’s a painstaking but critical process in order to dial in the correct fit. But with the help of some very talented people, finally, we had a sample! The sample maker had made a beautiful piece in a new color – Sapphire Blue. And we were happy. Boy, were we happy! One look and we knew this design and color would fly off the shelves.

Oh, and YES… did it “fly”.

A big boat show was coming up, and as usual, we packed our van and went off to the show, precious Sapphire Blue sample in tow. In setting up the booth, the Sapphire Blue Vineyard Vest practically begged to be on the mannequin right up front. And good news – people loved it! The design, color, trims – everything seemed to be working. We got a lot of interest and great feedback – people were gravitating right to the pretty blue vest in the front of our display.

And then it happened.

I was talking to a customer and turned to point out the Vineyard Vest prototype… but it was GONE. Our beloved one-of-a-kind sample, complete with its fleece insides and majestic royal blue – was GONE. It had FLOWN off the mannequin, as we predicted…just not in the way we predicted.

At first, I fumed. This one sample represented not only many dollars spent in product development, but months of effort to get it right. I stepped out of the booth and stomped around the show, simultaneously being outraged at the perpetrator (I mean, who does that?) and at myself for not being more observant. Then it started raining, mirroring my dark mood.

But a few minutes later, the rain stopped and the sun shone down again. And given time to reflect on the incident, I decided that any design worth stealing was worth bringing to market. So after the show, we commissioned another sample, made final small adjustments, and sent the pattern off for production. And 2 months after our original target date, we finally could offer the Vineyard Vest to our customers.

We’ll probably never know how our Sapphire Blue vest made its way off the mannequin or where it ended up afterward. We only hope it’s someplace where it’s being admired for its beautiful design. Most vests are boxy and unflattering, but this one is sleek and feminine – without skimping in the performance department. It’s wind resistant, water repellant, and has a soft fleece lining for warmth. It comes in three great colors – red, purple, and yes, sapphire blue – so you stand out from all the black and navy in the crowd. It’s distinctive. Exactly what we wanted it to be. Not to mention steal-worthy. Isn’t that the highest compliment?

Vineyard Vest - Womens Sailing Gear - 12 Degrees West