Town & Shore Pairs Fashion With Sustainability in Wilmington

Photo by David Heitur

Delaware designer Liv McClintock stitches high style with sustainability with her handcrafted accessories collection, Town & Shore.

Liv McClintock learned the art of travel at a tender age. “From the time I was 8, I spent every other summer with my aunt in Brooklyn,” says the Rehoboth Beach native, noting how she would ride the rails with her cousins as they explored New York City’s boroughs. The other summers she would stay in Wilmington with another aunt, a seamstress who introduced her to fashion design. “I helped her make dresses and suits,” recalls McClintock, who’d already learned how to sew from her mother, a hand quilter. “My aunt taught me how to cut patterns and lay fabric and really feel textiles to determine their content—old techniques that still have application today,” she says.

Now, after decades in IT—18 years of which she ran her own company for network systems engineering—McClintock has returned to these roots with a handcrafted accessories collection called Town & Shore, drawing inspiration from her early years in the city and “the need to escape it for a more restful place, like the beach,” she says. Designing around these two ideals, McClintock’s pieces reflect the high energy of an urban environment (dark finishes and clean, structured lines) or the relaxation of a seaside resort (soft linens, pops of color), appealing to stylish sophisticates with a European sensibility.

Eager to dip her toes in the surf with a new busines, McClintock initially sold exclusively online. Ready to take the plunge, in October 2020 she moved into a spacious brick-and-mortar on Market Street, housing a leather-making workshop and retail boutique in front, which this spring (pandemic pending) unveils her most recent “travel” collection.

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After more than 25 years in IT, entrepreneur Lic McClintock turned her passion for design—and elegant European styles—into a second career./Photo by David Heitur

Why the switch from IT to design?

Even when I was in IT, sewing was a way to relieve stress. When my daughter was born nine years ago, I couldn’t run my company and be the kind of mother I wanted to be. As I was getting ready to sell—balancing parenting and professional meetings—I started making bags because I couldn’t find anything in the style and with the compartments that suited my needs. If you’ve got a pump and breast milk next to your laptop, that can be a bit of a mess!

How did you learn to work with leather?

It took almost six years. I applied my earlier skills—as a kid I would also help my brother burnish his handmade belts—and then started hanging out in artisan communities, learning traditional techniques from the Amish in Lancaster and then from chair upholsterers (a process that mirrors bag making) in Philadelphia. I also took virtual classes for pattern making, to learn layer and structure. After that, it was trial and error. Leather is unforgiving; once you poke it, the hole doesn’t go away.

How does Delaware’s natural landscape fuel your creativity?

I love the colors of our local flora, especially at the beach where I grew up—irises in rich reds, yellows and purples; white dogwoods; pink cherry blossoms. I choose colors that are timeless and will carry over season. Right now, it’s coral, which can be worn year-round.

You’ve said you’re also influenced by city architecture.

My designs range from the light and feminine (think floral or bouclé clutches) to more contemporary pieces with clean, architectural lines that complement a tailored city wardrobe. You’ll also see these in beautiful, textured crocodile or snake print embosses.

Define slow fashion.

I appreciate things that are well-made and can be worn for decades, and that produce less pollution. I only source leathers used in the food industry and make no more than 50 items per style.

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Why Market Street?

This area has a long history of tanning and textiles, which I think is special, but I was also attracted to the idea of being around other artists and to being part of the revitalization taking place down here.

Can you ‘map’ out your latest collection?

The theme of travel translates to literal maps—on the interiors of my handbags, on the lining of overcoats (McClintock also designs a few garments per collection, to demonstrate how a look comes together), leather clutches with sketches of maps.

What’s next?

Perhaps a collection of caftans—I did those long ago—in linens and silks. I’d also like to carry U.S.-made pieces from other artisans.

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