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Online Shop Reworks, Renews, Redresses Apparel, Bringing New Life and New Perspective to Looking Good
Upcycled and sustainable apparel and accessories have found a new home: Web-based boutique Retro*Fit is now live at RetroFitLife.com. Owner and designer Barbara Ruiz offers an Evanston-based outlet focused on beautiful, quality products that give new life to apparel and materials. Retro*Fit products include gently worn apparel upcycled into fresh looks as well accessories from artisans aligned with her perspective of re-using and recycling materials.
Retro*Fit combines the love of style with truly green and sustainable additions to the wardrobe. That’s important as the fashion industry produces 20% of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions.
“Retro*Fit is passionate about fashion and the earth,” Ms. Ruiz says. “We don’t like the whole concept of what constitutes trash. Every second of every day, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. It may seem hard to trade beauty, quality and trends for earth friendliness. Retro*Fit is here to change that.”
Ms. Ruiz’s mindset, idea and experience comes from studying fashion design at Columbia College of Chicago and designing home and restaurant environments (such as La Passage in Chicago’s Gold Coast) before running her own Lincoln Square boutique The Dressing Room for eight years. Working with a partner, she was the trend watcher, buyer, and window designer – where customers could see all the elements come together. In that time, she also saw how quickly garments in excellent condition were forgotten or thrown-away before their potential was realized.
A second life – that is what Retro*Fit gives every object. Each piece is upcycled from an existing garment or accessory by adding or removing fabric or embellishing with appliques, patches or paint. Every item is thoughtfully reworked; that is true slow fashion, Ms. Ruiz says.
“Having a brick-and-mortar location is in the plan, delayed by the pandemic,” Ms. Ruiz says. “But those like-minded shoppers looking for new ideas, ways to expand the closet without hurting the earth, or both will want to make RetroFitLife.com a regular browse as new pieces will be added as quickly as we can (re)imagine them.”
Other makers’ accessories also are available. The labels focus on creating new accessories from recycled, sustainable and ethically sourced materials. Many also employ women around the world, empowering them and giving back to communities in need.