The sleepwear as daywear trend was enthusiastically embraced by celebrities from Victoria Beckham to Rihanna and it’s not hard to see why — bedroom-to-boardroom functionality is as chic as it is comfortable. Local creatives Bailey Meredith and Greta van der Sta founded General Sleep with the vision to create sleep and loungewear that can easily go from bedroom to boardroom. Thanks to their determination to use ethical manufacturing processes and materials, you will also feel good while you look good in General Sleep garments.
The Last Fashion Bible spoke to Meredith about sustainable manufacturing processes, why our wardrobes should be considered an investment and styling tips for wearing sleepwear as streetwear.
What led you to launch General Sleep?
Greta and I have been friends for a long time. We met when I was working at Kate Sylvester and she would pop in to borrow samples for shoots (she’s a photographer). General Sleep was dreamed up one night around the fire at my house, drinking red wine and discussing the lack of options there were for great, comfortable, pyjamas that you could lounge around in all day in.
I think what took it from a fireside conversation to an actual business was our shared desire to create something outside of what we were currently doing. A creative outlet where we had full control over every element of the brand.
What makes General Sleep unique?
One of the most unique elements of General Sleep is our commitment to working with hand-woven fabric. The artisanal craft that goes into creating our fabric is very laborious and technical. It’s such a skill to possess and one that is passed down from generation to generation. During the industrial revolution, many weavers found themselves out of work which meant the craft was lost across many communities. While working on General Sleep we discovered many initiatives across India that are working to reinvigorate hand weaving which is fantastic to see.
We knew we wanted GS to be made from natural fibres but when we started researching fabric manufacturers, we discovered handloom and instantly were drawn to its story and the history behind it.
Did it take you a long time to find the weavers?
From inception to when we launched, it was nearly two years… it might have been longer? It was the most challenging and difficult part of the process. Any brand will tell you that manufacturing is one of the biggest challenges. Whether you make locally or overseas, finding a good manufacturer that aligns with your vision and respects your ideals is priceless.
Last year we were lucky enough to travel to India last and meet with a manufacturer who we’d been communicating with for a while. They carry the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification which is something Greta and I always wanted to align with but, as I mentioned, it takes time to find the right factories. We also work with an amazing factory that has incredible social and environmental initiatives such as fair wages, solar power generation and equal opportunities for women, being run by a female CEO.
Why was it so important for you to use ethical fabrics?
I believe we are in a time where we have to hold accountability and be responsible for the choices we make when manufacturing and producing garments. I think we’re all navigating an ever-changing environment and consumers are asking more and more about where their garments came from, who made them and what were they made with
Greta and I believe in being honest and transparent with our supply chain and feel proud to support the communities of weavers we work with.
Do you design everything in-house?
Yes, we do. Our approach is to work with a refined range of styles that have evolved over the last few years. We build on our offering twice a year, working with different weights of fabric to reflect the change in season including light soft organic cottons, a trans-seasonal organic cotton-linen blend and a cosy organic brushed cotton for the cooler months.
Why do you think sleepwear as daywear is having such a moment?
General Sleep has always been a fan of sleepwear worn all day long. It’s something both Greta and I personally embrace and have always encouraged through our brand.
Because our pyjamas are designed with the intention that they can be worn to the beach or up to your local coffee spot, the restrictions around labelling certain pieces in your wardrobe as event-specific are removed. I think that’s why it’s becoming more and more popular, people embracing that versatility.
Do you have a favourite example of celebrities wearing sleepwear as streetwear?
We have this photo of a young Winona Ryder on a mood board that expresses the vibe we set out to achieve.
Do you have a go-to?
At the moment, I’m obsessed with the new Wrap Set. I wore in Paris for the first time and it felt like that perfect combination of strength and femininity. And then I can come home, chuck bed socks on and chill out on the couch.
Can you share some of your styling tips for achieving bedroom-to-boardroom functionality?
We have full sets within our range — like the Wrap Set that I mentioned — that I wear as a modern approach to suiting. The thing I love most about having this brand with Greta is actually seeing our friends style General Sleep in and amongst their existing wardrobes. One of my favourites is the Classic Set. I have friends that will obviously wear it to bed as a set, but then will take the shirt, open it up, wear a t-shirt underneath it, style it with some Chucks, so it looks like a summer suit, wearing the shirt as a lightweight jacket.
The v-neck cami from the Paloma Set looks amazing with jeans or trousers. I’ll quite often wear that out at night in summer.
How do you want people to feel wearing General Sleep?
Like themselves. It’s so important to feel comfortable whether it be for sleep or during the day. You wear pyjamas at least eight hours a day so it’s important to be able to move and not feel restricted in any way. Sleep is so important and can affect our physical and mental health which is why we spend a lot of time wear testing our shapes before ever releasing them to ensure they aid in a great night’s sleep.
General Sleep isn’t your only homeware company, you also have Baina towels. Can you tell us more about that?
My business partner, Anna Fahey and I have been friends since high school. We had always talked about working and creating something together, having a shared interest in fashion and a similar approach to business. It was only when we found ourselves both living in Melbourne that the timing felt right to explore the idea.
Baina is a brand of contemporary, organic towelling that we launched last November. Baina also works with GOTS certified cotton and manufacturer in Portugal. We have a wonderful range of stockists across New Zealand and Australia and are working to expand into the Northern Hemisphere market later in the year.
I feel so lucky and fulfilled at this moment, having two beautiful brands that I get to work with all day long has been very rewarding.
What’s your best advice to anyone wanting to follow a similar path?
You have to be prepared for the highs and the lows. In that, you need to understand that mistakes will be made. But every mistake is a lesson, so if you can learn from it, you can grow and develop. You will be successful if you take on those mistakes and not let them stop you moving forward.
In the past, I’ve always struggled with making mistakes. I’m definitely aware of it and so it’s something I continuously work on. Ultimately, it’s what’s helped me to succeed, to acknowledge them and move forward.
Where can we follow you?
What don’t you leave the house without?
I never leave the house without blowing a kiss to my cats Frankie and Archie.
Shop General Sleep at generalsleep.com. Stay with The Last Fashion Bible for more local and international designer interviews.