Catherine Fisher models her reversible “Latchkey” jacket at her Brunswick studio. Wearers can choose whether to reveal a secret patch handpainted with the design of a house. John Terhune / The Forecaster

Freeport native Catherine Fisher explores many themes in her poetry, but she often returns to a central question: How do we shape ourselves and the world around us?

Now, working out of her studio in Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick, Fisher has found a new way to bring her poetry to life: through ethically sourced, sustainable fashion.

Catherine Fisher Clothing, which launched last October, sells an array of Maine-crafted blouses, pants and jackets, each one based on a piece of the founder’s written work.

“The poem comes first,” Fisher said. “The garment just materializes, because it is like the physical embodiment of the poem.”

For example, “Latchkey,” a poem comparing forgotten parts of the soul to an abandoned house, inspired a reversible hemp-cotton jacket, featuring mattress ticking, corozo nut buttons, and a hidden pocket with a hand-painted house design. Two shadowy figures on the back of a linen blouse represent the intimate themes of Fisher’s poem, “Half-Light.”

Catherine Fisher with her linen “Half-Light” blouse. Each item in Fisher’s collection comes in five or six sizes to fit a wide range of bodies. John Terhune / The Forecaster

A former acupressurist, baker and biographer, Fisher turned to poetry in 2016 while pursuing a degree at Vermont College of Fine Arts.


“I turned 50, and I threw myself into it,” said Fisher, who came to Maine in 1994. “Doing that just really helped me put myself out there in a way that I hadn’t.

In 2018, she imagined an eye-catching clothing line decorated with lines from her poems. Yet she soon decided that a less literal translation would give each customer more freedom to interpret the garments.

“The most key piece of this whole thing is the energy of the wearer,” said Fisher, who spent three and a half years building her business before the October launch. “The wearer is the completion of the poem and the garment.”

Fisher is a proponent of “slow-fashion,” a philosophy that prioritizes buying a few durable, high-quality pieces over many cheap items that will wear out quickly. She said her clothing, sewn by Golden Thread Designs in Scarborough, is eco-friendly and ethically sourced.

Catherine Fisher hand paints many of the accents on each garment at her studio in Fort Andross. She ships each sale to her customers along with a handwritten note and a copy of the poem that inspired the garment. John Terhune / The Forecaster

This dedication to sustainable practices doesn’t come cheap: Pieces in the current collection range in price from $310 to nearly $500. Yet, according to Fisher, who donates 10% of each sale to local and national charities related to the garment’s theme, customers can enjoy the knowledge they’re not harming the environment or taking advantage of underpaid workers.

“It would just feel awful to put on a garment that you know was made by someone who was underpaid, doing it in poor conditions, underage – or made of materials that would never biodegrade,” Fisher said. “Because it’s such an artistic impulse, I want to be sure that it’s definitely not part of the problem, but part of the solution.”

Falmouth artist and Fisher’s longtime friend Bessie Moulton admits that the company’s high-end clothing isn’t right for everyone. But for those who, like Fisher, are always seeking new forms of self-expression, poetry-inspired clothing may be worth every penny.

“The clothing just isn’t to cover your whole body,” Moulton said. “It’s to express yourself. It’s like art to wear.”

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