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Field-Good Fashion

Carly Sowecke, a geologist who turned into a clothing designer during the pandemic, creates eco-friendly Field Study Clothing, which is a nod to her earth-loving, geology roots.

Carly Sowecke, who launched her Field Study Clothing line two years ago, has a fairly down-to-earth sensibility.

“I’m not a big fan of ‘Oh, I can’t do that because of what I’m wearing,’” she said. “I don’t like to be stifled by clothing, so a lot of my clothes are more free-flowing, loose-fitting. When you wear something from Field Study, you could ride a bike or go get a drink with a friend — or hop into a double-dutch competition.”

Bright colors, playful patterns and hand-blocked prints amplify her brand’s happy vibe. The pink-and-red Sack Dress is a popular choice offered year-round. The oversized style could easily accommodate good times, but a closer look at the design reveals even more feel-good characteristics.

All Field Study products use eco-friendly fabrics, garnered sustainably, and all employees are paid fair wages. Do you have a special quilt that could be fashioned into a custom jacket? Sowecke offers such services. She’s quick to recycle found materials and other companies’ leftovers — what’s called “deadstock fabric” — into new and stylish designs.

Photo by Logan Walcher.

Sowecke is a proponent of the “slow fashion” movement, which is an approach to creating clothes that aims to be fair to people, animals and the environment. So, Sowecke thoughtfully produces small batches of clothing, creating quality pieces she wants you to want to keep and wear year after year. It’s the exact opposite of the approach often employed by mega companies that overproduce clothing and source labor and materials in the cheapest way possible, regardless of the negative impacts.

“I am trying to educate people why this [Field Study] shirt isn’t $10,” Sowecke said. “It’s hard. It’s really difficult. Even I get pulled into that I-want-to-buy-some- thing-cheap trap.”

The name “Field Study Clothing” is a nod to her background; she previously spent 10 years working as a geologist. She sought a change during the pandemic, as workplace culture and job security shifted, and turned to her lifelong hobby: sewing.

“My mother was a great seam- stress,” she said. “She sewed my Halloween costumes and dresses, and I loved it. She had my sister and me take sewing lessons after school. It was so fun. Then, I think it was in middle school, there were these leopard bags that had a silky Asian lining. They were so popular, and I thought, ‘I could make that.’”

And so, sew she did. It was her first taste of retail. Sowecke continued to design and produce clothes and accessories throughout her life, making gifts for family and, upon request, sewing something she was wearing for a friend. When she needed a life change in 2020, she launched Field Study Clothing and opened a store at the Make Ready shops in Midtown. She also founded a monthly market in the parking lot — the Make Ready Market — with vendors selling other handmade items to bring customers to the area. And while Field Study is popular among Oklahoma residents, the ethically produced clothing line has also garnered fans living in Austin, Nashville, Arizona and California. Though she recently closed her retail location, moving Field Study to online-only sales, the monthly market continues, a legacy of sorts. Sowecke isn’t running it anymore, but she’s been known to do a pop-up shop there and other spots around town occasionally.

Still a geologist at heart, Sowecke says her respect for the Earth contributes to her adoption of slow fashion practices, while her down-to-earth styles are extra appealing to customers.

“You say the word ‘fashion’ and people think of Paris Fashion Week,” Sowecke said. “Fashion can be innovative, cool and fun, but also practical — something you could wear in your everyday life.”

Photo by Logan Walcher.

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