Can a clothing brand change the world? Maybe. Initially, Ocean SF was founded to solve the problem of being cold on a sailboat. Since then it has become so much more. Founder Sydney Chaney Thomas is an avid skier and sailor, conservationist, activist and entrepreneur. This created the perfect storm to create Ocean SF.
The story begins on a sailboat in San Fransisco Bay. It was early morning and Sydney was taking a certification course for sailing. She unexpectedly took a wave down her back and was wet and chilled for the next six hours. As a skier she knew that wool socks stay warm when wet and frost bite is avoided. A jacket made of Merino Wool was the obvious solution. Since none existed she designed and made her own in L.A. through a friend who knew a Gucci pattern maker. The first prototype arrived in a FedEx box while she was on San Fransisco Bay in a sailing race. As the idea to form a company began to take shape Sydney knew it had to include only sustainable fabrics and the products had to be locally and ethically made. Ocean SF became more than just a dream when Sydney raised $20,000 to mill her custom fabric through Global Merino in Marin County, California. Global Merino won the Eco Performance Award in 2017 in Munich Germany. They are Bluesign certified and pioneers in ethical and sustainable textiles. This is where the fabric for the jackets comes from. The jackets are then sewn in San Fransisco by Synergy Apparel. The owner Connie Pang does the most beautiful work. When Sydney is in production she’s there almost every day watching the seamstresses sew and cut her fabric. Connie has an open door policy.
“We are an elite cut and sew contractor that has been producing quality apparel products for more than 30 years in San Francisco.
Our production staff are all extremely experienced and skillful sewers. Many of them have been with us for more than 20 years.
Our management team is comprised of a “husband-and-wife” team working seamlessly together.” – synergyapparel.net
Anyone who has tried to make ethical and sustainable clothing knows the barrier to entry is unimaginably difficult, but it can be done. There is nothing glamorous about being a clothing designer. It takes determination and the learning curve is steep and expensive. Sydney is often asked how much it costs for her to make each jacket and she will laugh and say, “About $20,000” and this is no joke. When you wear Ocean SF you are wearing your values, plus the hard work, determination and courage of a small group of people who believed it could be done.