seis doce: behind the seams


(Numbers can have meaning too.)

It came to me a few years ago. The idea for a clothing line that was so local it was named after the area code. 

When we first moved to Baja, I got a cell phone with theCabo area code (624) because that was where we bought my phone. We lived, however, in the 612 area code of the Pacific Side of the peninsula. There is a considerable amount of rivalry between Cabo (624) and the area I live in which is comprised of: La Paz (the city where Emilio was born, making him a pazeño), Todos Santos, Pescadero, and Elias Calles (our town, which is, driving south on the highway, the last town before you reach Cabo San Lucas). After a few years of using an out of area area code, I realized how much cell phone credit I was using up for no reason. The Pacific side folks tend to feel significantly superior to anyone from Cabo. I am not sure if the snubbing goes in the other direction. 

I eventually myself a new phone in Todos Santos, and I was considerately excited that I finally had a 612 area code. Imay have some identity trauma from having grown up in Brooklyn during the area code change, when in 1984, Brooklyn, which had had the same area code as Manhattan, 212, had suddenly been given a new area code: 718. I remember being really mad about it. After all, I reasoned, Brooklyn is not a separate city from Manhattan, we are just different boroughs. I had learned that we were supposed to put Brooklyn, NY as our return address when we wrote letters. But I refused. I argued again: Why should I write Brooklyn, NY, when it’s part of New York City. I stubbornly continued to write NY, NY for Brooklyn addresses. My feelings about area codes and neighborhood pride run deep, as they do for many people who come from the area that is less well known than it’s neighbor.

Living now in Elias Calles (which is halfway between both Cabo and Todos Santos in either direction), as I did in Brooklyn and Oakland, I feel again the born out of defensiveness local pride that comes from living a half an hour away from the larger town. 

Anyway, when my cell phone had 612 area code, I felt, finally, that warm, familiar feeling of belonging to the underdog. One day, while dialing a number from my 612 phone, and feeling that pride, I was reminded of a clothing company called Neighborhoodies that makes custom t-shirts and hoodies with people’s neighborhoods (or anything they want) written on them. I ordered three tank tops from Neighborhoodies as a surprise gift to my social service bandmates--each t-shirt had written on it: social service, in the front, our individual band name which was a combination of our given name and the instrument we played, and our favorite number on the back. Zoetar, Drumifer & Pollase. Sure, it was dorky, but we embraced that as part of the band aesthetic. 

Anyway, the memory gave me an idea: I had just started making t-shirts that were really simple to make, and yet very flattering, and then I realized I needed to make t-shirts with 612. In fact, I decided to name my future clothing line 612. As time went by, I discovered that local Mexican, don’t say: “six one two” “seis uno dos, when they give you their phone number, they say: six twelve. Seis Doce. If you want to be real local, you need to say seis doce. And hence, the name of my new label. 

How can you have a new label if you don’t have any clothes yet? Well, today I finally had a day in the sewing studioat Casa Luna and got myself through a day of sewing with my new serger. The serger is a wonderful exciting new machine that I have been wanting for a few years, but because it’s new, and different from a regular sewing machine, it is a bit tricky. It is so easy for me to get intimidated by new techniques and machines, and want to give up. However a little perseverance got me through an hour of troubleshooting the bad sounds the machine was making. It was a lot of threading and rethreading, but when I finally found my rhythm, it was incredibly gratifying to be able to actually use the machine. Sergers sew the seams, cut the fabric and finish the seams all at the same time. They are fast efficient machines that make even a novice’s sewing look more professional. They use 3 to 4 different needles at a time. Anyway, they are the ideal machine to use when sewing knits, which is primarily what I make, because the seams they create are both strong and stretchy. 

Using the dark blue bolt of fabric (my first bolt ever bought) I got at the Segunda in La Paz, I made six Y-shirts (this style looks more like a Y than a T). I also finished a shirt (pictured above) and appliqued my first 612. I still need to sew down the numbers, but that’s more or less how it will look. I am currently researching label options, considering getting a stamp with the logo printed on it, that I can put on the inside of the of the clothes. Six and a half is not a lot, but it’s a great start. Initiating (or re-initiating) is always the hardest step. On Monday ZOELAB is going on the road for a week, so I don’t think I will have a chance to do any more sewing for a little while. But when I get back, I’ll definitely getting back to the studio! I want to do more with the applique, I developed another style of applique (that I made on my pink sweatshirt) that I want to try with the Y-shirts.

This story has a dual purpose, to share the development of an idea for its own sake, sharing its intention and its process of creation, all successes and failures, but also as a way of copyrighting it, to prove that it is in fact mine (though not really mine, as you can see, my idea is a pastiche of others’ ideas.)