October 3, 2014

The Piece Project: Part One.

Daniel Silverstein and I met five months ago in May when he let me wear clothing from his collection for my 23rd birthday weekend. As many of you know, I don’t buy new clothes, so what I borrowed from Daniel’s showroom was not just any clothing, it was Zero Waste clothing.


"Textile pollution is a growing problem in the fashion industry.  An average of 10-15 percent of the fabric used to make every garment is thrown away; a sobering statistic given the millions of garments produced every year...Daniel is passionately committed to keeping fabric waste to a minimum with every collection he makes. Using a unique draping technique, Daniel keeps fabric waste close to zero. “Spine” details and special embellishments wrap around the body to use the full yardage of fabric put into each piece."  
In his own words… "I just left a meeting where I wanted to have garments cut out, and the factory owner could not understand why I would save my fabric scraps. She also did not understand why they were artfully laid out to be appliquéd on to the dresses after the pieces had been cut. She told me she pays more than $500 per month to have her scraps removed and thrown into landfills because her business is so wasteful. This is not the only factory in the Garment District creating waste like this, and this is not only an acceptable practice to the industry, THIS IS THE ONLY practice.'"
I read this right before I met Daniel and was flabbergasted. I knew fast fashion was bad, but 10-15 percent thrown away!? 

This idea of waste in the fashion industry had never been more apparent to me until last night when I was walking home from dinner and I saw a giant pile of trash in front of JCrew in Soho. Upon closer inspection I realized that the pile wasn’t trash at all. It was a massive mound of clothing. Perfectly good clothing (hats, shoes, bags, shirts, jeans!) ready for the taking… I thought. When my friends and I looked at the pile, all of the items had been mutilated and slashed so no one would take them. Perfectly good clothing destroyed so no one could have it for free. THAT PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH. Not just because I wanted free clothing, but because people intentionally destroyed something that was totally good, completely usable, and then cut it up into pieces so no one else could use it. Fast fashion is OUT OF CONTROL. I now see it, Daniel has known it for a while, and we’re fed up. The amazing thing about Daniel is that he's doing something about it.
Enter The Piece Project, a collection created from rolls and pieces of fabric that Daniel didn’t use in his prior collections (example: ends of rolls of fabric), but he saved them. Reflecting upon these pieces, he saw an opportunity and a huge challenge to create something incredible from what every other designer out there would have seen as trash.
Daniel and I definitely agree on something – you can have strong ethics, live a sustainable life, be Zero Waste, and not sacrifice style. One of my favorite things ever is that when people meet me, they expect me to LOOK like I lived in the woods for 23 years. They say “I would never know that you live this lifestyle by looking at you.” Well, HELLO, I live in NYC, and let me preface that I’m obviously cool with people that live this way – but what did you expect, dreads and a knapsack filled with all of my worldly possessions? No. That’s just not me.

So Daniel invited me to model in the campaign for The PieceProject, which was the most flattering thing in the world and I am so excited to show you the entire collection which will be released in a series over the next month. Since he is using pieces from rolls of his prior collections, the items are being released in very limited quantities, which means that once they are sold out, they are sold out and there will not be any more. Which is awesome because lemme tell ya what, with 13.1 millions tons of textile waste produced by the fashion industry in the USA last year, I'm pretty happy that Daniel exists.



69 comments:

  1. This is so awesome, that lost shot looks great!

    I'm disgusted by J Crew and glad you documented their waste... I hope they're ashamed.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ariana!

      I am so disgusted by it too. But I have a feeling that this is not a unique thing at all. I feel like there are definitely more companies that do this. It is horrible. :(

      Lauren

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    2. Good post...Nice set of fashion articles. Good contribution towards fashion. samishleather James Bond Jackets

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  3. On the topic of fashion, what do you do when you have worn out your clothes? Is there a good way to recycle close?

    Justin

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    Replies
    1. Depending on the fabric it can be turned into insulation and mattress filling among other items.

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    2. Hi Justin,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I have a couple of suggestions.

      1) If it is not destroyed, still wearable, and just not your style anymore you could try to sell it at a place like Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading.

      2) If it is still wearable you could donate it to goodwill, salvation army, or bring it to a clothing drop.

      3) If it is not wearable, many cities have a textile recycling program in place. NYC does, we have textile drops at our farmers markets.

      4) If it is a natural fiber like 100% cotton, and you have a backyard composting system, you could probably compost it. Check this out: http://www.hearts.com/ecolife/surprising-textiles-compost/

      Let me know if this was helpful.

      Lauren

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    3. As stuffing for dog beds. A church ladies group works yr round for fund raising & this is a side project.

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  4. "but what did you expect, dreads and a knapsack filled with all of my worldly possessions? No. That’s just not me"

    I loved this line. So true!!!

    Daniel is a trailblazer and I love this work. Thank you for sharing him with us.

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    1. Hi Erin,

      Thanks so much! It is so funny how stereotypes are so prominent. People get really confused when you don't adhere to one. Like, "wait, you can live an eco lifestyle and not live in a tree?" haha

      Daniel is truly amazing, I am so happy to know him. (And happy to be able to wear the clothing, of course ;) )

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  5. Also this! Some other companies who strive for zero waste production and use other eco-friendly strategies. http://fashionista.com/2012/04/10-eco-friendly-fashion-brands-we-can-get-behind#2

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    1. Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this with me! :)

      Lauren

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  6. I recently joined a sewing ministry at a local church. We make quilts and blankets/mats for the homeless, nursing homes, children's hospitals. School uniforms for kids in Haiti, pajamas for group homes, curtains for women's shelters.Bibs, burp cloths, receiving blankets for needy moms. Every scrap is used, if it can't be used for a quilt, it is used for stuffing dog beds for the humane shelter which are made from leftover upholstery fabric and samples. Plastic bags are crocheted into mats for the homeless. I love this group! Check with your local churches to see if there is such a group in your area. Thanks for bringing awareness of this. I hate this tragic waste!

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    Replies
    1. I had not heard of the plastic bag idea. I will pass that on to a church I know doing the same year round projects!

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  7. Good work! We also create our jewlery and bags with minimum waste and have BAGABAGA Love collection - the upcycling stuff. At our workshops I teach how - using traditional handicraft techniques - create new out of old and upcycled ;-) If you're interested meet me at: www.bagabaga.pl ;-)

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  8. Cool subject, I like the idea of breaking stereotypes about what being sustainable is all abiut, very funny what you said about dreadlocks and all. I like the idea of using up what you have and generated before obtaining more, as Daniel has so gracefully done. Cool work Lauren, very inspiring. I aim for zero trash life, I don't produce anymore organic waste, it is all turning into fertilizer, i reuse most of the packages (tin cans, plastic bags and containers, boxes, etc) and am always picking up "trash" and using it as furniture or artpieces, still there is work tobe done and it is great to learn, thanks. It is amazing how many useful and perfectly good things are discarded every day every where

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  9. A friend of mine here in Cambodia runs a zero-waste fashion label called Tonle. In a country like Cambodia, where many big-name international fashion brands have their garment factories (many with unfair working conditions for local staff), you can imagine the literal TONS of material that gets churned out as waste. Tonle takes that waste and turns it into very cool, beautiful clothing, with excellent working conditions for their local Cambodian team. They've started a kickstarter campaign to help them expand their market to the USA, you should check it out!

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/520983811/tonle-zero-waste-fair-fashion

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  10. I just found your blog and I am so inspired already. I wonder whether something can be done about the jcrew store? Can we start a public campaign to see if we can change their policy? I worked in restaurants for 10 years and the amount of food waste is unbelievable too. I wonder whether you complained with the store at all.

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  11. Hi Lauren! I just stumbled upon your blog for the first time and now I feel very inspired by it! As a new mother and someone who is very concerned with environmental issues, I am constantly looking for ways to cut down on trash and bring new eco-friendly habits into my family. So glad I found some ideas here!
    However, I think you did judge JCrew a little too fast. I had worked for the company for a little while before I had my daughter and I can tell you it is a great company to be a part of! Despite what you saw at their trash disposal, I can assure you that this is one of the companies that does care about the environment. They might not have found effective ways to eliminate textile waste yet, but I am absolutely certain this project is currently in the works for the company. Why am I so sure? Well, just to mention a few things: all of the packaging stores use for sending out things to their customers is made from recycled paper; also, if there is a damaged item, store employees always get a chance to buy it at a very discounted price before it gets damaged out. Also on a store level, managers can offer props that are no longer in use in windows/interior displays to anyone who could reuse them, rather than just throwing them in the trash. I m sure a lot of people would say that its "small potato's" but at the same time there is very few fashion retailers who do any of those things(and I have other retail experience to compare!). And honestly, the quality of JCrew product is excellent and I am not just saying that! Their product lasts a long long time. If you don't want to buy it new, there is plenty of pre-owned JCrew things selling on eBay and at secondhand stores. I myself have bought a few and no one will ever tell that it has been worn before!

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  12. Thank you for this post. I love that Zero Waste fashion is getting more and more attention! My dear Friend Marlene just launched her first online store for her Zero Waste fashion label L.Y.S (www.lys.fashion)- I wrote a blogpost about it on thecapitalF.com
    Please continue what you are doing Lauren, you are very inspiring. I read every post and can't wait for new inspiring insights into your Zero Waste journey. Greetings from Germany

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  18. I own a sewing machine and I would KILL for fabric remnants and clothing parts including the ones J Crew tossed to the curb! If you ever see anything like this again, bring it to a friend who loves sewing and you may get a great upcycled gift in return! Or better yet send it to me! I'd be HAPPY to have entact shoe soles upon which to build an upcycled shoe or leather bag pieces or knit or denim scraps- any of it! Sewing is a great hobby, especially useful for upcycling and making use of fabric scraps and "waste". I use every piece. I keep small scraps to make patchwork bags, blankets, funky patchy patterns to include as panels in other projects, small projects like reusable coffee sleeves, key chains, coasters, nursing pads, cloth diaper inserts, reusable cloth pads, reusable tissues and napkins, etc. Once all I have left is shreds, I use them as stuffing instead of buying filling for pillows and plush dolls. All of my rag dolls are 100% rags and pillows stuffed with upcycled scraps are nice and heavy and they wash really well and make great gifts- I like my throw pillows a little weighty :) Always remember, one man's trash...

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