It looked like a normal dress, a nice one. Something you might wear to a wedding if you wanted to be a bit sexy. It was floor-length, the V-neck plunging into a rosette that swirled and gathered under the bust, and the spaghetti straps crisscrossed on a low-cut back, kind of like a sporty, 1970s swimsuit.
It’s the kind of dress Mara Hoffman, who has been in business for 23 years, could whip up without a second thought. But this particular version has been five years in the making.
“Feel this,” Ms. Hoffman said at her Lafayette Street store in Manhattan one September morning as she held out the coral-colored fabric. It had the texture of peach skin. “If you go through the store and feel through all of our product, nothing really feels like this.”
The story behind the dress is not sexy — or maybe it is, depending on what you’re into. One of an edition of 35 currently for sale at $1,195, the dress is woven from a proprietary fabric made by a Virginia company called Circ, which has patented technology to separate and recycle poly-cotton blends — meaning one part is polyester and one part is cotton — into fibers that can be respun into fabric.