Vintage clothing designer and the number 108
Some have a lucky coin or charm; some look for four-leaf clovers. For Beth Barbier, it’s the number 108 – and to her, it’s more than luck. Barbier is an artist, mother and talented vintage clothing designer, creating and sewing individual pieces in her home studio; her company is named 108.
Barbier hails from Buffalo. Her father died when she was 4, and although she
has snippets of memories of him, Barbier believes he keeps in touch via the number 108. Her father was in the air force and his squadron number was 108 and the group lived by the number. For example, their baseball team was the 108-ers. It was even spoken as a code to replace an expletive in the sky when they were flying.
“To my father, the number 108 was an expression of joy and adventure and gratitude, used among pilots,” stated Barbier on her website. “The number took on a deeply personal meaning to me, giving me comfort and solace any time it would appear.”
Growing up, she would sometimes wake in the middle of the night to see her digital clock at 1:08. Her first day of school, 108 was the room number. Barbier said that the number has shown up in all manner of places and has been a spiritual guide for her.
Being an artist and fashion designer was not always in her forecast. Barbier worked at Gap while attending Erie Community College, earning a degree in liberal arts. She met her husband, Brady, in Boston and they traveled the world for a year, touring New Zealand and Australia together in a van. They moved to San Francisco, and when they registered with the DMV, 108 was part of their license plate number. They got married along the way, and Barbier went to work for the corporate office at Gap.
Barbier worked for Gap for 15 years doing in-house design merchandising. “I was
the person who would create how the merchandise was going to look and lay it all out in the mock store,” said Barbier. “I would create the book to send to all the Gap stores so they would have the same look.”
Barbier didn’t go back to the Gap when
the couple had two sons, Jack (named after her dad) and Caper. Although she enjoyed being home, she felt the creative part of her brain needed an outlet. With a friend, she started creating and selling belt buckles and hair pieces. When her mom needed help, the family moved to Buffalo to take care of her until her passing.
Barbier said that the family wanted to get back west. Brady had grown up skiing in Breckenridge, so they targeted Colorado. Their realtor recommended Castle Pines, with a noted ZIP of 80108, where they landed in 2020.
Once again, Barbier felt the pull to create. “I didn’t know how to sew but I had all these ideas,” she said. “I needed to buy a sewing machine and get on YouTube and learn how to sew.” And that’s what she did.
Over the last few years, Barbier has been discovering and refining her vintage, whimsical style. From all donated or thrifted clothing, she takes apart the clothing, sorts the pieces by color and recreates jackets, skirts, scarfs, hats and sometimes adds a rock star or a band logo to the motif. To get the ombré look, she bleaches the flannel shirts. Since each item is sewn together individually, each of her productions is unique.
“I get up there in my studio, get in a zone and I just love to create,” Barbier added. She said she works approximately six hours per day. Barbier’s mission for 108 is “to make the world rethink fashion in a way that will affect generations to come.” A percentage of her earnings go to a mental health organization for families, lovelikereed.com.
Barbier is hosting two open house events in November. To learn more about
them and to view her online store, visit 108wearyoursoul.com.
Article and photo by Hollen Wheeler; family photo courtesy of Beth Barbier