Clothing designers piecing together pre-Mother’s Day fashion sale to benefit Pittsfield library

Posted April 30, 2011, at 12:38 p.m.
Last modified May 01, 2011, at 4:27 p.m.
Clothing designer, Jill McGowan,plans to bring some of her products to Pittsfield next week for a benefit for the Pittsfield public library.
Photo by Peter Browne Macomber
Clothing designer, Jill McGowan,plans to bring some of her products to Pittsfield next week for a benefit for the Pittsfield public library.
Jill McGowan
Photo by Peter Browne Macomber
Jill McGowan

PITTSFIELD, Maine — A hometown girl who’s making waves in the fashion world will avail the fruits of her talents to the benefit of the Pittsfield Public Library.  

The downstairs community room in the recently expanded and renovated library will be filled Friday and Saturday — just in time for Mother’s Day — with racks of high-end women’s clothing designed by Jill McGowan.

McGowan, along with her sister Jolene, who is the marketing manager, run Jill McGowan Inc. out of Portland. Since the company was founded in 1994, it has gone from the confines of Jill McGowan’s spare bedroom to selling American-made designer clothing in more than 300 boutiques across the country. Last fall, McGowan Inc. opened its own store on Main Street in Freeport.

Many of the company’s shirts, sweaters and dresses sell for $150 or more, but according to Jolene are affordable in the landscape of high fashion. The garments benefit from very fine fabrics and a “French seam” construction technique that Jill McGowan learned while working at Hathaway Shirts, which used to make men’s garments in Waterville. The technique means that the seams are finish-sewn inside and outside for durability and comfort.

“You don’t see any fabric edges at the seam, even inside,” said Jolene. “That’s fairly typical for a man’s high-quality shirt, but not of women’s. Except for the Jill McGowan tag, you can’t even tell when the garment is inside out.”

Much of the clothing at the Pittsfield sale will be marked down because it is either out of season or part of a previous Jill McGowan line, but it will all be top quality, said Jolene. She suggested that a woman might like a high-quality keepsake garment more than her son or husband might think.

“Quality clothing in smaller quantities,” said Jill McGowan. “Most women would appreciate something like that.”

With their mother, Ann McGowan of Pittsfield, having long spearheaded fundraising for the $1.4 million library project, Jill and Jolene have more than one reason to be two of its benefactors.

“My mother just put her heart and soul into raising the money for the renovation and it’s a great centerpiece for the town of Pittsfield,” said Jill McGowan.

Jolene McGowan said she and her family — which includes their brother Patrick McGowan, who ran for governor in the 2010 Democratic primary — frequented the Pittsfield library through the years.

“It’s a wonderful thing that we’re able to give back to our hometown,” she said. “The library is a great historic building.”

Jill McGowan Inc. has run sales to benefit the library at least eight times since 2001, donating a total of about $11,000 to the library, according to Ann McGowan.

The sale runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 6, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Pittsfield Public Library is located at 110 Library St., which is just off Main Street.

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