Watching sustainable fashion and textile initiatives emerge to address pre- and post-consumer waste issues provides hope that closed-loop, zero-waste fashion will be the norm in the future.
Over the past few months, I have been able to learn more about the Green Eileen take back program, a recycled clothing intiative of the sustainable women’s wear brand Eileen Fisher. To date, it has collected over 550,000 garments and resold 225,000 items. Green Eileen has raised over $2 million in support of organizations such as the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute, Girls Inc., Planned Parenthood, and the National Women’s History Museum.
A local store in Ithaca, SewGreen, began to sell Green Eileen, gently-used clothing in 2015. I was excited to find some timeless gems and give them a second life with my re-use.
In 2016, I began to work on a research project with my faculty advisor, Dr. Tasha Lewis, to address an issue of unsellable Green Eileen clothes. They sent us over 200 pieces considered unsellable due to stains, holes, or other damage. Below is some of my upcycling work with pants to make a line of scarves. I made several accessories including earrings, and also integrated reclaimed yarn to create unique yarns using local alpaca, wool, and angora fibers.
We also had the opportunity to visit the Green Eileen space in Irvington. It was great to meet the team working to scale upcycling, and see their work space. It is a true inspiration to see a vibrant culture for sustainability in the fashion industry.