My first order from zero-waste designer tonle was a surprise. They were offering a surprise box of 3 items from their spring collection. I had noticed the tree rings and succulents in some of their inking, and included this note in my order on February 27, 2016: “I love trees! In skirts and dresses, I prefer full/circle/a-line styles. Thank you for offering this dreamy gift box!”
A week later two dresses and a tote bag arrived. I did not need another tote bag, and I gave the screen-printed sewing machine on recycled canvas to a friend who used it for short trips to market. The gray and black keang dress made by Vanna was a style I had never worn. In the past 2.5 years, I have noticed that it continues to look flattering in every season. The black santi dress made by Kheng has become my favorite: ideal for special occasions with simple jewelry and fun to accessorize with bright scarves or belts.
I have always preferred comfort over style, and with tonle I received all I could want in clothing: designs I love in curve-friendly cuts in remnant fabrics that feel good and are easy to take care of, made by a caring community of survivors and dreamers. In December 2016 as I listened to the Change Creator podcast about tonle founder Rachel Faller, I realized that alongside my growing concern for the makers of my clothing, I also wanted to go against the sierras of waste created by fast fashion. Beyond purchasing dresses, I had bought into the idea of zero-waste clothing, and I wanted to advocate for it. I decided to wear tonle for every gig I booked for myself in 2017. I bought a third dress to accommodate a busy spring: grey voleak with hand-printed tree branches made by Navy, because I still love trees.
Since then, I have discovered more companies that reclaim remnants and fashion them into beautiful and functional goods. I present this blog Waste Less Wares because trash can become treasure, because limits can sharpen creativity, and because makers who upcycle repair the world.
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