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Eco Fashion: Redress Raleigh

RALEIGH, NC - Redress Raleigh, a North Carolina-based fashion startup, focuses on bringing environmentally and socially aware fashion to the forefront. Fortunately, Redress Raleigh isn’t a pricy boutique, but a community movement with a DIY, everyday focus, organzing large-scale clothing swaps, educating eco-conscious shoppers on sustainable alternatives, connecting green-focused fashion designers with suppliers and buyers, and presenting an annual eco-fashion show.

I talked with Redress’ co-founder Mor Aframian on Redress Raleigh’s mission, and on integrating green principles with fun fashion.  Mor Aframian pointed out that all of our fashion choices are really environmental choices. Most of us would like to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but don’t have the time and money to shop in special boutiques, so Mor suggests that interested fashionistas first check our own closets for items that can be reborn with a little alternation. Any time a zipper can be replaced, or a hem taken up, or a style slightly updated, you can get more wear out of an existing garment.

“Although the price point when making sustainable choices can be a barrier to entry,” Mor says, “we’re voting for our economy with the buying choices we make. Your dollars are your votes making your voice heard for the future of fashion production.” Most of us already check tags when shopping, to find out where an item was made and consider the working conditions in that country.  Mor also notes that the distance a garment travels from creation to shopper costs natural resources as well, another reason to look for locally sourced clothing. Mor encourages checking to to see if items are natural fabrics and can eventually biodegrade.

Redress also suggests thrift stores and other secondhand clothing outlets as an easy and affordable move towards sustainable fashions. To this end, Redress organizes regular clothing swaps, asking shoppers to search their closets and attics for old, unwanted clothing in good condition, and trade those outfits in for new ones. This is a great money-saver for the attendees, of course, but also a great benefit for the environment by reducing waste and reducing the resources needed in clothing production.

Redress’ latest clothing swap drew over sixty attendees, and included men’s clothes and children’s styles as well as women’s (as seen in photos 1 – 5 ). The clothes swap isn’t curated by Redress, but attendees tend to share Redress’ values and fashion aesthetic, so clothes are in good condition, sometimes never-worn, in a wide variety of workable styles. Leftover clothes are donated to InterAct, a non-profit women’s shelter, where some will be worn and others sold for fundraising. And that’s the Redress goal in a nutshell -- repurposing unwanted goods to save money, help the community, and support a charity.

Redress Raleigh’s largest features is an annual Eco-fashion Show showcases eco-friendly collections, with a focus on wearable styles. “It’s not practical to show a dress made out of PBR cans and ask people to change their shopping habits.” Mor Aframian says. “A focus on sustainable fashion makes it more difficult to make the average customer engaged, so we try to make it easy for everyone to purchase and be inspired by what’s on the runway.”

The showcased designers have been carefully selected by Redress for style as well as focus on recycled, repurposed and sustainable supplies. Practical upcycling, like reclaiming vintage curtains for dress materials, outdoes splashy concept fashion, like a bottlecap dress. Although the fashions are expressive, creative works, these are ultimately clothing to be worn and thrown in the washer and worn again, not just looked at.

Redress Raleigh is well on their way to their goals of educating shoppers and fashion enthusiasts, and giving Raleigh residents an option besides the Triangle malls.