Sara DeLuca is the co-founder and product designer-in-chief of Dovetail Workwear, a utility apparel brand designed by women, for women, and with women, based in Portland, Ore. DeLuca joined Dovetail when co-founders Kate and Kyle Marie designed her garden and sparked a conversation about their ideal work pant. Since then, Dovetail Workwear has filled a market gap by producing high-quality women’s apparel equipped with the features and durability that is usually only found in men’s workwear. Spanning jeans, overalls, outerwear and accessories, customers can find Dovetail Workwear in 340 stores across the U.S. and Canada.
The brand also makes a pledge to sustainability through its low-water rinse finishes, its increased use of recycled fibers, and its pact to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), which encourages businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.
Additionally, the workwear brand prioritizes relationships with factories and mills who raise the bar on industry standards through additional training and certifications such as Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement for women (P.A.C.E), Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Bluesign, OEKO TEX, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
What denim buzzword do you think is overused? And what would you replace it with?
Inclusivity. At Dovetail, we hold the value of inclusivity as a core tenet, and I admire other brands that have made headway in more accurate extended sizing and offered greater options for body shapes and types. But no one has really nailed inclusivity yet, including us. I don't think anyone can really say they are 100 percent inclusive, just like it is impossible to claim 100 percent sustainability.
My wish for the apparel industry would be more transparency about the journey in these areas because inclusivity is a journey. More sizing options, better size grading, and intense scrutiny of end-user experience is what leads to inclusivity, but it is adopted and evolved over time, based on what we learn season after season. Like sustainability, the process towards inclusivity is to be intentional in every decision we make, offer transparency, and then permit the customer to decide if they are aligned with our progress.
What do you wish more consumers knew about the jeans they buy?
Dovetail operates with the core belief that the world doesn’t need more stuff. However, we do believe that there are still fundamental gaps in what is available to women who work (professional, artistic, or recreating) in fields that have physical demands. From inception, our design process is informed by these women who are looking for better workwear as we lean heavy into their real-world feedback in fit and testing. What I wish our customers could experience is the amazing stories and inspiration that these women bring to the table every day. They are the groundbreakers (and ceiling breakers), innovators, and pioneers of their fields. And they are the DNA behind every jean Dovetail makes.
If you had one request for denim brands, what would that be?
It may seem counterintuitive to the spirit of competition, but I would love to see more intra-brand collaboration in terms of moving the industry forward as a whole. I have deep respect for the teams at progressive denim brands that are leading the charge in cleaner manufacturing. Smaller brands like Dovetail benefit from the inroads these companies are making. They are engaging their customers in a thoughtful way on social issues. All and all, there’s a lot to learn from one another.
What can other apparel categories learn from the denim industry?
Denim is an amazing substrate. It never stops giving, changing, or expressing. Many brands that focus on denim incorporate craft, texture, shade, and character into their fabrics and pass that beauty onto the consumer. That respect and honoring of the textile material is really inspiring. I'd love other apparel categories to bring that to the forefront.
What was your most recent denim purchase?
I haven’t been able to take off the Zeller Work Shirt, which launched in Spring ’22 for Dovetail. It’s the raddest, most comfortable denim work shirt ever. I used my employee discount to purchase this, so I think it counts!
What is your first denim memory?
While not my first denim memory, but the most memorable, was being pregnant with my daughter and my co-workers commissioned a women’s quilting circle from the town where our factory was located to make me a beautiful baby quilt with the laundry defectives and fabric scrap that our brand had produced. I cherish that quilt to this day. It’s a reminder to honor your mistakes and make something beautiful.