Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
July 17, 2015
Blend a sassy style with lots of cheekiness, and deeply rooted personal values, especially environmental sustainability, and you have the high-energy Kori Jock's La Vie en Orange, which turns T-shirts into hand-made underwear designed to make you happy.
Everyone today talks about recycling: plastics, glass, metal, compost, paper. But underwear?
Kori Jock tosses her head, her long brown hair flying, and lets out a long, delicious laugh. She laughs loudly and she laughs often.
La Vie en Orange is Jock’s business of making recycled underwear, underwear she makes out of favorite old cotton T-shirts. That shirt you’ve been wearing since college, worn as your favorite pajamas, worn while doing yoga or jogging, worn around the house, suffered through stains and a thousand washes, maybe even used as a dust rag--now, in the hands of Kori Jock, can be reborn as your favorite pair of undies.
Jock has been sitting at a sewing machine since she was 4 years old, carrying on the seamstress tradition of her grandmother.
"She made underwear for my grandfather and my father," Jock says. "So it’s not so strange to make your own underwear in my family."
A native of the northern suburbs of Detroit, Jock first came to Kalamazoo as a student attending Western Michigan University to work on a fashion design degree in 2000. She fell in love with Kalamazoo, but then left Kalamazoo for Seattle--for another love.
"My story wingle-wangles," she acknowledges. She moved to Seattle after dating Zac Brownell long distance for a year. "And it was worth it. We got married. But I kind of hated Seattle. I hated the weather. I missed my family. I worked as a fundraiser for a nonprofit for four years. I loved the work, but I didn’t feel like myself there."
To feel herself, Jock needed to tap into her creative side, and she needed to do it in her social-justice-ecological-organic way.
"I was involved in the peace movement in my college years," she says. "I learned about social justice. Working with fashion, I was aware of how the New York fashion world tells people they should buy new clothes every three months. That didn’t go with my values."
During her own financial low points, Jock started to make her own underwear out of necessity. "In what I call my gypsy years, sometimes I had money and sometimes I didn’t, but I still needed underwear. Victoria Secret was too expensive, and you can’t return something if it doesn’t fit. I was an athlete in college, so I had a ba-gillion T-shirts, all cotton."
Snip, snip. Jock got busy. A bit of elastic, a few key measurements, and she had made underwear that fit perfectly. "No more wedgies!" She laughs.
Jock recalled that underwear nirvana years later, in Seattle, when she became frustrated with her lifestyle in a city that increasingly felt like a bad fit. By April 2010, after discussion with her husband about what they could and could not handle in financial risk, she ...
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