Bakker Brown: Stylish But Not Scratchy

Cecilia Bakker, wearing a Bakker Brown jacket, and her husband Tim S. Brown, co-founder of their Bakker Brown line of sewn to order jackets (photo by Jim Barcus)

Husband and Wife Clothing Design Team Launch a ‘Sewn to Order’ Line of Jackets

“If you can’t find it, make it yourself” is the credo of many an entrepreneur.

Cecilia Bakker could not find clothing she considered acceptable. Bakker discovered that clothes which “fit” her often restricted her movement; she also developed a strong dislike of cheap fabrics, especially when they were scratchy. Bakker was familiar with sewing and had made her own clothes in the past, but it was not until she received a book of patterns that she was inspired to start her own line. Together with her husband, Tim S. Brown, they founded Bakker Brown in 2016.

Bakker studied printmaking at the Kansas City Art Institute and later received an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Her husband, also an artist, founded the Telephonebooth Gallery in 1995. Coincidentally, he had also had some experience in making his own clothes while aspiring to avoid itchy textiles. While his primary objective was to support contemporary artists, he had always planned to utilize his gallery space for more than just sales of art.

With an emphasis on quality, the clothes are produced by Bakker and Brown in small batches, i.e., “sewn to order.” Because Bakker had always loved jackets, she decided that they could be the article of clothing on which they would focus first. Brown designed the men’s version while his wife created the women’s. Brown described his concept as a “cross between Carhartt and a classic American sport coat.” Jackets for both sexes are casual but durable and offer an updated sensibility.

The fabrics they have selected are often sourced from surplus or overruns and generally are in limited quantities. Denim, double twill and wool are just some of the choices which are available (swatches of fabrics are available for customers to peruse before making an order). Their waxed cotton jackets can be worn in different kinds of weather, are breathable and will repel water. Some have a quilted lining, making them more appropriate for colder weather. Overall, the palette is neutral but leans toward darker saturated colors. With small-batch production, there is less waste, more environmental consciousness. And as Bakker explained, it enables them to be “nimbler” and respond to any necessary changes that the market might dictate.

Bakker is thrilled to be employing both her artistic and financial background, having discovered that she “can be creative and use a ruler.” Her objective is to end up with a product that she would like to wear but that has not been available, creating structure with the fabric but without restriction. They have already designed trousers for men and are in the process of creating them for women. The plan is to grow the business slowly, introducing more variety and options gradually. Bakker is excited about one of the possibilities she is considering for the future: printing fabric with some of her artwork, a departure from the solid colors that are now being offered.

Bakker wants the public to see the clothes, try them on and provide feedback. She is obviously content with their new business venture, saying, “I should have always been doing this.”

Telephonebooth Gallery, 3319 Troost, will hold Bakker Brown Popups, Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Dec. 12. Appointments suggested, 816.582.9812 or email bakkerbrown@gmail.com. To shop online, visit bakkerbrown.com.

Nan Chisholm

Nan Chisholm is an art consultant and appraiser of 19th- and 20th-century paintings. After a long association with Sotheby’s, she founded her own business in 2003. She has appeared as a fine art appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow” since its inception in 1995.

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