Closely Crafted Aims to Support the Next Generation of Craftspeople

The word is getting out about Closely Crafted.

The organization was founded by milliner and accessories designer Gigi Burris O’Hara during the pandemic with a mission to educate and train up-and-coming talent to preserve craftsmanship in the American fashion industry. The impetus for the group’s creation came after Burris O’Hara watched so many other New York City-based factories close, leading to a dearth of artisans for both her business and others.

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So she rallied a number of her industry friends to join her in the cause to preserve and revitalize quality American goods including Nike’s Matthew Kneller, fashion attorney Douglas Hand, Public School’s Maxwell Osbourne, Markarian’s Alexandra O’Neill and others.

On Tuesday, the organization held its first fundraiser at the Rooftop Bar Blondeau at Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. The event served to raise money for the group’s Move the Needle campaign, a master apprentice program it will launch in late 2023 that will connect artisans with students or others interested in gaining skills in a craft. The exact amount raised has not yet been finalized.

To bring its mission to life, Closely Crafted showcased an onsite weaving activation centered around a 10-foot circular loom in collaboration with Brooklyn based weaving studio and healing arts center Weaving Hands. Attendees were also invited to weave together remnant fabric from a host of designers who invest in local production, including AnOnlyChild, Adam Lippes, Alabama Chanin, Bach Mai, Brandon Maxwell, Christian Cowan, Deveaux, Et Ochs, Gigi Burris Millinery, Jonathan Cohen, Lapointe, Markarian, Monse, St John and others.

Gigi Burris O’Hara
Gigi Burris O’Hara

The evening offered up locally sourced napkins, a step-and-repeat curtain crafted from upcycled remnant fabric, and lapel pins for guests crafted from a third generation silk flower atelier. Beverage selections were sourced from local spirits brands, including female-owned Harridan Vodka and North Fork-based Macari Wines.

In addition to the board members, the evening drew designers Connor McKnight, Matthews Adams Dolan and Dao-Yi Chow as well as Fern Mallis, Kate Lanphear and others — a turnout that warmed Burris O’Hara’s heart.

“There has been an overwhelming reaction to the cause,” she said. “Closely Crafted will be a part of the solution by igniting conversations around craft, supporting fashion brands that invest in local production, creating artisan equity, and above all inspiring the next generation of creators. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event ticket sales and donations will go to the Move the Needle campaign, which is benchmarked funding our first apprenticeship program. We aim to capture generational knowledge of ‘savoir faire’ to transfer to young artisans and contribute to a thriving future for our industry.”

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