Is the ever rising wave of textile waste a tsunami for the fashion industry, or will it be the ride of our lives?
There are mountains of waste environmental minds are not addressing, at least not in a way other recyclables are treated. Every year the US produces over 25 billion tons of textile waste, largely due to consumers embrace of the fast fashion market. The fashion industry, second only to the oil industry in its negative impact on our planet, is nervously looking over its shoulder at a growing number of consumers who are now demanding ethical and sustainable options.
Fashion revolutions, “who made my clothes?” movement and the film “True Cost” are pushing this message to the forefront and are opening the minds and wallets of awakened style stars.
The fashion industry is just starting to taking notice and are making some pretty wild stabs in the dark. Iconic fashion brand Burberry burned (yes, set fire) to millions of dollars in excess product and rethought their solution due to the public outcry. Others, like Columbia Sportswear, have started a program to recycle old clothes on a national scale. Even Forever 21 and H&M—two of the biggest offenders—are trying recycling programs to endear them to their consumer base, but the cheapness of their product make them undesirable to even thrift shop options.
This half-hearted attempt barely scratches the surface, but what other alternatives to we have?
Sustainable and ethical brands lack mass appeal and can be costly to produce. Recycling programs and ethical production practices so far are a precious few. Currently, despite the enormity of this ever-growing environmental problem, only 15% of Post Consumer Textile Waste is actually recycled, that leaves 85% either shipped overseas (which ruins the economies of some of the poorest nations in the world) or ends up in our landfills.
That leaves us with a giant pile of…beautiful textiles treasures! Raw materials for a complete and separate upcycled high-fashion industry.
Raw Materials by Melissa sees this 25 billion tons of waste as a commodity and a viable textile alternative for the future of fashion and our planet. Raw materials is an upcycled clothing line refashioned from 100% textile waste. They tackle these billions of tons of waste with great design and refashioning techniques to create new high fashion. They even have found it works great to create social enterprise opportunities for non profits due to the abundance of the material. The value of this Post Consumer Textile Waste (old clothes) is always overlooked. This makes it a key piece for product development in the social enterprise and makers movements.
At the center of raw materials upcycled clothing brand is high fashion with a soul, striving to make goodness look good.
They are not gowns made from garbage bags, artsy, craftsy, patchwork or skirts made from ties (no…just no). Their design solution company comes up with innovative and very wearable high fashion that will quickly become your signature piece in your very own fashion story.
The secret is the value and the viability they see in, well, these raw materials. Founder, Melissa Feezor, sees potential in each piece of old clothes and knows how to pull out the best qualities while redesigning the parts that need some high fashion flare. Innovations like boxer skirts, butterfly backs, shirt shifts and street style smart, two-piece sets made from old man pants keep this line exciting, fresh and definitely high fashion.
This October, Raw Materials by Melissa will be rolling out an ordering kit that will allow you to send a gently loved piece from your own collection and have it reimagined into a new signature piece. Melissa thinks every one of a kind beauty deserves a one of a kind piece for their collection. Focused currently on women’s and young women’s fashion, raw materials will be working on men’s and accessories in the near future.
The possibilities really are endless when you have the right vision.