In 2004 and 2005, Ashley Newsome was just another student rushing to put last-minute touches on her showcased collections for NC State’s annual Art to Wear fashion show. Today Newsome – who graduated in 2005 with a degree in art and design and a minor in apparel technology – owns her own sustainable fashion supply and custom clothing design and production studio in Savannah, Ga., called Haberdashery Eco Fashion Supply.
Her design inspiration for Art to Wear – vintage fabrics that were remade and “upcycled” – is still a huge piece of what she’s doing at Haberdashery.
“I like the idea of taking something old and making it new again,” Newsome says. “Some people see what sustainable designers do as contradictory – since fashion is constantly being renewed and what’s ‘in’ one season is ‘out’ the next. Looking at fashion through affordable and sustainable products that are made with longevity in mind is a very niche market. But I’m hopeful that it is the wave of the future of fashion.”
NC State, Newsome explains, taught her more about fashion than just the fabrics and design. Here, she also learned about the apparel production process – and everything that goes into mass production. That, she says, piqued her interest in sustainability practices – how we can reuse what we already have instead of producing more and more.
At her Savannah studio, Newsome finds and sells vintage fabrics, renewable ones – made from bamboo or Ahimsa silk (silk processed from cocoons without killing the silkworm), and leftovers or “seconds” from high-end designers like Anna Sui or Marc Jacobs that would normally be discarded. She also uses fair-trade fabrics and products that are made through sustainable practices, even if the fabric itself isn’t.
Newsome, who will be heading back to Raleigh on Tuesday to celebrate Art to Wear’s 10th year, is happy to hear that many students featured in this year’s show are following in her footsteps to apply sustainable practices in their designs.
“I think it’s wonderful. I’m such a huge supporter of anyone using sustainable fashion design,” Newsome says. “What I try to do is encourage people to buy their clothing for longevity – high-quality fabrics with a classic fit.”