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If Sarah Schumacher gets homesick for her native Wisconsin, all she has to do is go for a walk through her neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Flannel and beards
are in as a men’s clothing trend. “There are tons of lumberjack hipsters
wearing flannels and trapper hats (in Brooklyn),” Schumacher said, adding that the style has caught on nationwide.
Using the trend as inspiration, Schumacher recently designed the Lumberjack Onesie men’s garment for national retailer American Eagle Outfitters.
Oddly enough, she was drawing as much from her East Coast experiences as from her memories of woodsy Wisconsin.
She grew up in Oak Creek, north of Milwaukee, and graduated in 2011 from University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, where the forests and real lumberjacks aren’t far from campus.
An apparel design and development major, she is an associate designer in New York for American Eagle Outfitters. The design team she’s on was looking for a new approach to a men’s onesie and chose a costume theme, with her lumberjack idea winning out over several other concepts.
“It was a lot of work but I am definitely proud of the way it has turned out,” she said.
The product received positive national publicity just before Christmas. A website, Refinery29.com, named the Lumberjack Onesie one of the “top 30 gifts for any man in your life.”
“It definitely feels great when you put in all that hard work and get such kind words,” said Schumacher, adding that she posted the article on her Facebook page and Instagram accounts and “had huge reactions of support to it.”
The red-and-black checkered Lumberjack Onesie is a full-length, zip-up garment with hood and a zipper that functions as a bottle opener. It’s made of polar fleece. The original retail price was $89.95.
The target market is young adult males, who might wear it as they lounge around the house or cabin on a winter evening.
The unusual zipper was one of the hardest parts of finishing the garment, she said.
“This is something no one at our office had ever done. We had to work with the trims vendor to design the best shape of bottle opener that could also work with the zipper design from the zipper trim vendor. For the most part, things went pretty well,” she said.
Schumacher has worked for American Eagle Outfitters since 2013. She has been designing men’s underwear, graphic T-shirts and men’s woven shirts.
“I spend every day a little differently, either sketching new designs/silhouettes, developing new fabrics and washes, meeting with my team to collaborate for the upcoming season’s designs or working through approvals and making the final touches on the next line to hit the store,” she said.
“I have loved my career so far. I could have never imagined I would be a designer living in New York City. I don't know where my career still has to take me, but I am incredibly thankful for everyone who has helped me get to where I am today,” she said, noting that she works in Manhattan, just down the street from the Empire State Building.
The apparel design program gave her the skills she needed to succeed in the industry, she said.
“UW-Stout was an amazing program and has completely prepared me for my career. Many design colleges just teach you how to design and sketch and be conceptual, but at UW-Stout we also learned the technical aspect of design that not only opens up more job prospects but also has helped me understand my designs on another level and better communicate my designs to our wonderful tech designers,” Schumacher said.
Sarah Schumacher at American Eagle Outfitters in New York.
The Lumberjack Onesie.