The “B-Regenerous” collection debuted at Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week, Spring 2019. But the idea started a year earlier when I was commissioned to create a sculpture out of t-shirts for the office of Ben Clark, Owner of B-unlimited (a design and screen printing company in Fayetteville, AR). He wanted a custom art piece that represented his business made from their test print t-shirts.
While working on the sculpture, it sparked so many ideas of other things I could do with the shirts. Ben and I spoke about fashion week and how this could be a great opportunity to collaborate and make something incredibly unique for the runway. I couldn’t have been more excited about it since this was right in line with the Regenerous mission of minimizing waste in the fashion industry. It was an amazing opportunity to utilize my background in fashion design and really stretch my creativity.
The test print shirts are so fun to work with because of the way they’re printed all over, inside and outside, with graphics layered on top of each other. To some, these become waste, but for me, they looked like new pieces of art just waiting to be transformed into one-of-a-kind designs.
The graphic designers at B-Unlimited are talented artists and I wanted to represent their work too. However, many of the shirts have logos, brand names or sorority/fraternity affiliations. I didn't necessarily want those sections to be a part of our pieces, so I had to be very strategic about which parts would be displayed and work around what we didn't want to show.
Working with test print t-shirts proved to be more challenging than expected.
The process started with washing all of the shirts, which turned into many loads of laundry.
Then, with help, we sorted them out by color/graphic themes. This meant the office/my house was surrounded with piles of shirts.
In order to create my designs, I had to deconstruct the shirts to then reconstruct them into new garments. That meant cutting them up into various shapes/sizes, then sew them back together to create a solid piece of fabric to cut a pattern from. Along with this step meant selecting the right sections of the shirts to use for each design. All this was probably the most time consuming part of the process.
My team and I sorted though the piles of shirts many MANY times looking for specific images, words, and letters each time we discovered a new theme we wanted for one of the designs.
For some of the final looks, I chose to focus on the reoccurring graphic themes we kept finding on the shirts.
For others, I focused on color, cutting up the shirts then weaving, knotting, or braiding them into different structural forms where the graphics became almost unrecognizable.
Creating this collection was definitely a “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” kind of situation. I couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of some of my AMAZING friends and the awesome team at B-Unlimited. The best part of collaborating is getting to see and bring so many different skills/talents/ideas together to create something bigger and better than what one person could do on their own. I’m so thankful for the wonderful community in NW Arkansas and how willing people are to help and support creatives.
Hope this inspires you to view your discarded clothing and materials in a different way and gives you ideas of what can be done with old t-shirts.
If you liked this, click here to shop the one-of-a-kind accessories made for the collection.
(Keep a lookout for the next blog post featuring more about the story and photos from the actual Fashion Week Runway Show)
Special THANK YOU to...
Ben Clark: Owner of B-Unlimited
Photographers: Luke Davis, Heather Hill, Bryant Penzo
Videographers: Nick Bahash, Cubby Hoover
Makeup Artists for the Photoshoot:
Hair Stylists for the Photoshoot:
Valeria Quiroga Trigo
Ashley Little of Material Concepts for helping make the men's blazers
Additional Helpers and Supportive Friends:
& my awesome mom, Linda Bird