This post is the first in a series of installments written by Redress Raleigh's Summer Research and Development Intern Drew Waller during her time with us. We welcome Drew to the team and are excited to share her experiences with you!
I am the new Research & Development intern at Redress Raleigh and the first task I was given was to seek out potential vendors for the Redress Eco Fashion & Textile Conference (REFTC) for next year. I knew of a few companies I could use for this task beforehand because I frequently shop at a store in Greensboro, North Carolina, called Design Archives - which carries mainly vintage and upcycled clothing and handmade items. I never recognized the store as eco–friendly until I became interested in Redress Raleigh. Researching online, I’ve come to the realization that this idea of recycled clothing is not new - though it is revolutionary - it has definitely been around for some time. Many companies I found were started back in 2000, 2003, or 2005, pointing out that not only is recycled fashion NOT a new concept but I have now realized I have experienced this concept many times before.
Back in 2010 I remember being at a business fair where a woman made jewelry out of recycled materials and scrap cardboard. At the time, I just thought of her creations as being resourceful, but in reality, she was also upcycling. Some of the biggest mainstream results from eco- friendly fashion I've seen are upcycling and “thrifting.” I recently bought a bomber jacket from Urban Outfitters under the brand Urban Renewal, which had a Recycle sign on the tag. Had I not been exposed to the eco-friendly fashion concept I would not have thought twice about that tag. While I am exploring more environmentally conscious fashion I have seen that some fast fashion brands are trying to make a difference like H&M and Urban Outfitters. Making fast fashion less environmentally destructive would be great, but I have clearly seen that the industry of eco-friendly fashion is creating its own market through handmade, quality, and fair trade goods.
Redress introduced me to the “middle market” - which has a higher price range but deals more with quality than quantity. Most of the consumers that support the middle market are willing to pay more for quality and uniqueness and knowledge about the background of the company selling the product. This market also helps regular citizens keep the rights to selling their own creativity. Building the middle market is important because it’s creating fair wage jobs, it is less damaging to the environment, and it gives people more opportunities to start their own careers.
Redress Raleigh is a connector for the eco-friendly fashion community. Even though I just started at Redress it is very clear that eco-friendly fashion has changed my viewpoint on many aspects about my major - Apparel Product Design - and the industry. It has opened up some ideas on how I could become more eco-conscious in my designing and my purchasing. Redress has made me knowledgeable about this middle market industry of eco-friendly fashion and I hope to encourage others to acknowledge it as well.