Connecting on the Catwalk: Building Community in Eco-conscious Fashion

JUN 17, 2015
In this week's Creative Community Spotlight, Spoonflower team member Jenny chats with Redress Raleigh fashion show organizer, Beth Stewart! Beth has transformed the North Carolina fashion scene by putting together eco-conscious fashion shows in Raleigh since 2008. She's also made the addition of a full-day conference to Redress for the past three years. Find out what goes into responsible fashion and learn where the eco-fashion industry is headed next!
 
 

 
What is the mission of Redress Raleigh?

Redress connects and champions eco-conscious designers and companies through event planning, marketing, and an active membership network. We energize people and encourage them to take action in their own lives by actively thinking about their purchasing decisions and providing them access to amazing eco-designers. Redress envisions a world where eco-fashion is no longer a high-end ‘trend’ or a mass-market greenwash, but rather an accessible option to most people. It is our goal to be a catalyst for change within the mainstream fashion and textiles industry, making it more environmentally and socially responsible.

What goes into making responsible fashion?
 
When did Redress Raleigh start, and can you talk a little bit about its beginnings?

Redress Raleigh started back in 2008 – I saw a need in this area for a fashion show that focused on fashion that was innovative, accessible, and wearable but still considered ecological and ethical impacts during its creation. It was (and still is) important to me to show people that they can make eco-conscious apparel and accessory choices but still look great, not spend a fortune, and wear actual textiles. I found other people who shared my ideas (Mor Aframian and Jamie Powell) and had valuable experience and knowledge and we created the first Redress fashion show in 2009. Since then we've realized there is a need greater than just a fashion show – a need to support and nurture eco-conscious designers and companies so that the market will continue to expand. The [Redress Raleigh] Conference came out of this realization and we held the first one of those in 2013.

Redress founder, Beth Stewart
 

Spoonflower's own Alex Craig models Chad Graves' (also of Spoonflower) unique designs using leftover printing inks – See more in his Etsy shop, PressInk. Photo credit: Octave Blue (Robert King) of Oak City Hustle
 
How long have you been involved, and what is your role in this event?
I have been involved since the very beginning and Redress is my full-time job right now. My role in the company is Strategic Director / President so I do a little bit of everything all the time! Things like logistics of the event to contacting sponsors and speakers to social media marketing to updating info on all the aspects of the event on the website to being the point person and 'master of ceremonies' on the day of. Mor and Jamie focus more on the LookBook and coordinating certain aspects of the fashion show and our graphic designer, Carrie, works with me to create all our awesome visual materials.
 

Hand dyed silks from designer Kim Kirchstein of Leopold Designs. Photo credit: Octave Blue (Robert King) of Oak City Hustle
 
Can you describe the process for selecting designers?

The designers fill out an application, usually due about 6 months before the event. It requires them to submit a storyboard detailing the theme behind their collection and answer some short questions about why they want to be in the show, who they are as a designer, and how they feel they fit with the mission of Redress. We then interview the designers selected to move on to the 2nd stage, either in person or virtually, so that we can learn more about them and see examples of their construction and design. After the interviews, we select the designers we feel best fulfill the requirements and align with our mantras.

 
 
What's the most memorable collection you can recall seeing at Redress in the past?

We have had multiple memorable collections, and this year was no different. Though the designers apply and detail their overall theme and methods, we still don't see the full collection until it is on the runway. It is fantastic to see what they come up with – I am always impressed at the innovation and creativity. And we also always strive to have a variety of different 'eco' elements – it is important to show the general public how wide-ranging this can be, from organic fabrics to upcycling to recycling to natural dyes to vintage to no-waste pattern making to handcrafting and using a local supply chain.

 
 
 
Can you talk about what's next for some of the Redress designers this year, and in recent years past?
This varies by designer and honestly it's a good question because we haven't asked them this! But for some of our designers this was their first fashion show and it served as a launching point for them to get their brand out there and see what the market responds to and how they can improve. For others, they have done this or other shows multiple times and it is a way to show the audience their newest designs and, as many have told us, a creative outlet to do more eclectic things than they may do for their everyday products. Both this year's designers and past usually continue showing in regional fashion shows and participating in markets throughout the country to keep growing their brand. We love seeing designers we've worked with continuing to do fantastic things.

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