With an increase in wildfires in the west and severe storms in the east and south, it’s important to talk about sustainability. Historically, fashion has been a particularly wasteful industry – especially when it comes to following ever-changing trends. Many fast fashion producers design pieces to last for only one season’s worth of wear, with the expectation that the item will be discarded. There are several problems with this – one being that it adds unimaginable amounts of waste and chemicals to our landfills, waterways, and environment.
While sites like Poshmark and ThreadUp are growing in popularity, fashion brands and designers are looking for ways to make their fashion more sustainable. Here’s a list of the Midwestern designers and fashion brands trying to make a difference by their commitment to using upcycled and recycled materials.
Gitchi Adventure Goods
Everyone needs a good graphic t-shirt, and Gitchi delivers. They have the added bonus that their clothing is sustainable and they use recycled and upcycled materials whenever possible. They have baseball tees, ringer tees, and hoodies – making it a good place to go for casual basics with a little flair.
Conscious Clothing started as a home business when the owner and designer Rose Phillips began sewing organic cloth diapers and clothing for her young children in her West Michigan home. The business grew to local markets, Etsy, and now is a thriving small business designing and making women’s apparel and accessories. Their aesthetic is practical and their clothing styles are a mix of fashion-forward and weekend comfort.
A trip to Kenya inspired Liz Alig – she wanted to learn more about how the production of our clothing is linked to many individuals’ well-being. She started out by working with fair trade groups in India and Honduras. Then, one summer, she made a collection of a few dresses to see whether she could make clothing completely out of recycled materials. She sold out, people wanted more, and she worked with a group in Honduras to produce 100 more. Most of her clothing line is still produced with recycled materials, but her team also uses sustainable and handwoven materials.
Savage Denim is based out of Chicago, using ethically sourced and upcycled denim and materials. They create beautiful and unique denim jackets. When you want to make a statement, this is a great way to do it.
Originally a wardrobe stylist, Colorado’s own Delphine Gennisson’s primary goal is to boost women’s confidence and help women find their style. By doing so with handmade clothing that’s been sustainably sourced and ethically produced, she creates an additional reason for her customers to feel great about their fashion choices. She handcrafts each item to create a sustainable wardrobe.
Eyewear should not be overlooked when it comes to making a great fashion statement. Genusee is a sustainable fashion brand based in Flint, Michigan. Their eyewear is made from recycled plastic water bottles in an attempt to reduce localized plastic waste following the Flint water crisis. In addition to reducing waste, 1% of profits are donated to the Community Fund of Greater Flint.
CRAVE by Carli Rae Vergamini
CRAVE by Carli Rae Vergamini is an upcycled accessories brand that started as a way for Carli to be creative but then turned into a business where she upcycles and repurposes vintage jackets and dilapidated kiddie pools. Her jewelry is SO fun and makes a statement. She even has mask and earring sets. Want to try your hand at upcycling? She has DIY kits you can purchase!
Lalo Workshop is committed to creating zero-waste, ethically made garments. They are dedicated to “slow fashion” and emphasize the importance of design, comfort, and utility. Much of the fabrics used come from design house ends – or past season high-quality fabrics that are discarded and deemed “unusable.” The result is one-of a kind garments in limited quantities. Lalo Workshop has masks, cloaks, and waistcoats for purchase.
Pan Narrans Artistry
If fun is what you’re looking for, Pan Narrans Artistry is where it’s at! Indianapolis local Katy Newton’s bold and eclectic brand features upcycled ensembles through ingenious craftsmanship of recycled, repurposed and reused materials. When she’s not designing, she serves as a visionary to help others tap into their creativity and often does speaking engagements to spread the word about the importance of sustainable fashion.