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Spotlight on Sustainable Fashion | Dawn Murtaugh’s ‘Jean Therapy’
30 Aug

Spotlight on Sustainable Fashion | Dawn Murtaugh’s ‘Jean Therapy’

There’s no denying that fashion is art, uniquely allowing each wearer to express themselves through color, shape and texture–but for Dawn Murtaugh, fashion is art of a whole new kind: textile art. The Indiana-based artist is using old pairs of denim to create beautiful gallery pieces and tell a story about just how much the textile industry is negatively affecting our fragile ecosystem. As the world’s second greatest source of pollution, the textile industry is known to produce upwards of an entire garbage truck full of waste per second. Midwest Fashion Week Director and fashion designer Berny Martin recently came across Dawn’s beautiful collection at the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana and we knew we needed to share her art and pass on her important message.



Why the focus on denim, specifically? It is estimated that is takes 2900 gallons of water to produce and wash just one pair of jeans. This stat includes the washing done by the consumer over the life of the jeans, but also the water used in production. What many don’t realize is that all denim starts dark blue and must be washed repeatedly to become a lighter shade, sometimes requiring up to 15 washes to achieve the desired color. Additionally, it takes 3-5 washes to fully remove the toxic chemicals used in production. And where does this polluted water go? Right into our rivers, wells and groundwater, and typically untreated.



What can we do to reduce this waste and protect our land, waters and air? By raising awareness, we can help manufacturers make the shift towards more sustainable production practices and more sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, Tencel or 100% recycled polyester. In addition, we can do our part by recycling our old pairs of denim rather than donating them where they may end up in landfills. Visit to request a shipping label, or drop them off at your local Madewell store where your old jeans will be turned into insulation to be used in Habitat for Humanity homes! To learn more about Dawn’s ‘Jean  Therapy’ or find out how you can purchase her beautiful creations, please click here.

Are you a designer or brand in the Midwest focusing on sustainable fashion? We’d love to hear from you! DM us on Instagram for a chance to be featured!

Kacie Clark

I am a Midwestern fashion enthusiast with over a decade of marketing and content creation experience, authoring a number of published pieces both online and in print. I have worked with Midwest Fashion Week since 2008, stepping into the role of Marketing Director in 2019.