Waste really bothers Anne Marie McGrath.
The talented seamstress, with a career that has spanned over four decades, was working for a clothing company in Wellington when she began to get frustrated about the excessive amounts of clothing waste being produced.
“I saw all this waste, and I got really passionate about wanting to do something with it.’
Looking for a way to help, she got in touch with the Richmond Hospice Shop.
“It was perfect timing, because we have all this waste and we’ve been trying to think of something we can do with it,” says Anete Smith, Manager of the Richmond Hospice Shop.
She’s not exaggerating. The Richmond Hospice shop alone throws away an entire truckload of clothing waste each month, usually donated items that are dirty or damaged.
Anete guesses that around 30 per cent of the clothing donations they receive end up in landfill.
The fashion industry creates about ten per cent of the global CO2 emissions, which is more than aviation and shipping combined, according to a report commissioned by the United Nations.
Anne Marie knew that she could do something about it.
The result of the new collaboration between Anne Marie and the Hospice is the Phoenix clothing label, a range of carefully upcycled original pieces. The garments are created from pieces of donated clothing that would have otherwise ended up in landfill, but Anne Marie says that all they need is a little love. Whether they were torn, ripped or stained, they can be reworked into something new.
Inspiration for the label came from the idea of the Phoenix, something old being reborn from the ashes. “The idea just stuck with us.”
“We live in a world of fast fashion today, and things aren’t really made to last. The thing about old fabrics is that they’re a much better quality. They can be reused again and again.”
For several months now, Anne Marie has been using her skills to breathe new life into old tired garments, and Richmond Hospice Shop Manager Anete Smith says that the result is outstanding.
“Anne Marie has taken a lot of garments that we wouldn’t have sold, some that are quite old fashioned, and she’s turned them into high fashion.”
The new range, which will soon go on sale at Hospice shops across the region, will be raising money for the Nelson Tasman Hospice service.
“We are extending the life of products that would have otherwise gone to waste”