Bailey Meredith and Greta van der Star are friends and founders of local sleepwear brand General Sleep, launched in 2017 following a chat late one winter’s night.
“We were seeking pyjamas that were made from natural fabrics, not too loud or bright, made from natural fabrics and that also felt good to answer the door in,” says Greta of its beginnings. “It was the middle of winter and we felt that the ultimate would be a set of PJs that were nice enough to wear to a friend’s house for dinner!”
Since then, the business of sleep and chic pyjama offerings have only grown - but GS has stayed true to its minimalist and sustainable beginnings, slowly expanding with new fabrics, colours and styles without indulging the increasingly fast pace of the fashion industry.
The busy creative pair are well-versed in fashion and business: Bailey also runs Baina, the towel brand that you see everywhere on your feed; while Greta is a photographer who’s worked with Kate Sylvester, Ingrid Starnes, Marle and more.
Ahead of World Sleep Day on March 19, Greta answers a few of our questions...
I know that you are about a slower pace of fashion and consumption, adding new fabrics and styles as you see fit rather than seasonal collections. Can you talk a little more about that, and why you decided to approach things this way?
Our designs are classic and functional and we feel they do not need to be reinvented every few months. It’s like finding your favourite pair of jeans or T-shirt: they’re timeless and you just want the same again.
The fashion cycle gives clothing a four-month window before it goes on sale and the next round of clothing gets wheeled through the door. As a way of reducing our production/ consumption, we prefer to develop fabrics and styles that can be worn year-round. We play with colour and fabric compositions to bring fresh life to our pieces, and our core offering - navy cotton linen and stripe cotton, is always a favourite, so we make sure it’s almost always there.
Because of that, how do you tend to approach a new ‘collection’?
A new collection is more about fabric and a mood. We might tweak something - for example the sleeve on our Agnes wrap dress in this recent drop. But it’s about a feeling.
Tell me a little about ‘Winona’, the range that just dropped.
One of our original inspiration images was of Winona Ryder shot by Joe McNally for Rolling Stone magazine in 1994. It’s an iconic shoot: she’s in bed in some oversized blue striped PJs. We reinterpreted this set drawing inspiration from some vintage patterns and that became the mood for the current collection. We also added a fire-y brick red in lightweight cotton that we felt encapsulated this time and feeling.
What are people drawn to? What are the most popular styles or fabrics?
The classic set is consistently a favourite, and the Camilla has also become very popular. We’ve seen it at the beach worn over togs - it was always our intention to have such transitional pieces, so that’s exciting!
Have you seen any changes to how people shop GS because of how our lives have all changed this past year - being at home, the blurred lines between work and home, the casualisation of how we are dressing?
Absolutely. It’s been a tough year in many ways and a little bit of home comfort sounds nice! We believe people are also looking for considered brands. Taking a breather last year demonstrated that slowing down impacts the environment in a hugely positive way. It’s time to support kind brands who want to create change.
What are your thoughts on the nap dress phenomenon? You would make a great one!
Wonderful! I had not come across this, but that is exactly the idea behind the Agnes wrap dress. It’s a style not so much for sleeping, but mooching around the house and having an afternoon snooze.
Having a good sleep shouldn’t be about buying something, but for some people - like me! - what you wear to bed can have an impact on the quality of sleep you end up having. Why should someone invest in good sleepwear?
Sleep is worth investing in! Our mental and physical health hinge on a good night's sleep. In retaliation to the “busy culture,” we also promote naps and afternoon rests. Productivity is not necessarily always moving.
A friend and hugely talented painter, Cas Amanda, told me that in Mozambique, sleep or rest is considered “producing time”. I love that so much. I personally need to be at the right temperature and not get tangled up to have a good sleep.
How do you each prepare yourself for a really good sleep?
Dim the lights, take a magnesium salt bath, put on some crisp fresh PJs, and climb into bed to read. I’m obsessed with the Metagenics Neurocalm Sleep which you can get from The Tonic Room. It’s the ultimate natural sleep remedy.
What do you always like to have by your bedside?
A book, a glass of water, CBD oil, hand cream and either lavender or neroli oil. Reading often helps prepare the mind for sleep, or at least is an alternative to scrolling on your phone!
What was the last book you read?
I just finished Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It’s a beautiful and busy collection of character vignettes that thread together, shifting through decades, and each new story reveals a bit more about the previous character. It leaves you with an overarching feeling of connectedness.