Nowadays, more and more people are becoming aware of the bad side of the fast fashion industry and searching for more sustainable options for their clothing—be it high-quality clothes with timeless design, thrift stores for secondhand and vintage that give unwanted clothes another try, or repairing, redesigning, and upcycling to give your old clothes a new twist. 38-year-old Jillian Owens transforms thrift-store clothing into brand-new looks to avoid buying from fast fashion retailers and save a lot of money. Scroll down with Bored Panda's interview with Owens!
Jillian Owens from South Carolina began refashioning cheap thrift store clothes into her own unique custom looks around ten years ago. At that time, she didn’t have enough money to buy higher-end fashion clothes. “I was working for a nonprofit and didn't make a lot of money, so I couldn't afford the higher-end fashion looks I saw and loved in stores. While I lacked cash, I had an abundance of creativity. I decided to take on the ugliest, saddest, and cheapest (just about everything I refashion costs $1) thrift store clothes I could find and turn them into my own unique designs,” says Owens to Bored Panda.
When asked how she started to refashion thrift store clothes, she said: “I started out with a very basic sewing machine that I stored on top of my fridge in my tiny apartment. I'm basically self-taught. When I was learning how to sew, I checked out a few books from my local library and just started doing it. Now I have a much better setup and a dedicated sewing room.”
After some time, refashioning herself was no longer enough and Owens started her blog “Refashionista” to inspire and share her work with others. “I wanted to share my work with the rest of the world, as I thought it could do a lot of good for a lot of people, whether they were broke, looking for a low-cost creative hobby, or just liked checking out what I was making. I want people to look at my blog and be inspired to start thinking more creatively about how they can solve problems they might have (just like I did with my wardrobe). We're all creative. We're all makers. And we can all take things that aren't working in our lives (for instance, a lackluster wardrobe) and find creative and innovative ways to make them better.”
Owens says that the creative process really depends on the piece, so each time, it’s different. “It really varies depending on the piece. When I'm thrifting, I look for items that are weird, dated, or unique in some way, as those are the ones with the most potential. From there, I wash the garment, then evaluate what it will need to be refashioned. Sometimes this means completely taking something apart and re-imagining it entirely. Sometimes it's as simple as removing a ruffle or raising a hem. It all depends on each unique piece.”
“I believe creativity is like a muscle. Lots of people think they aren't creative, and I don't believe them. There's something about the 'adulting' process that seems to leave creativity and the bravery that comes from it behind. Creative problem solving is a vitally important skill in our society. I feel like every time I refashion a dress, I'm solving a problem, and that's an incredibly rewarding and empowering feeling. Solving small problems (like refashions) helps to train our brains to look creatively at larger problems and solve those as well. The thing I like most about creativity is its power to solve huge problems and affect positive societal change. It all starts with small baby steps.”
Owens believes that you don’t have to buy a lot of expensive clothes to look good. All we have to do is to be creative and think sustainably. “We all know that how you dress is important. It affects what others think of you and how you're treated. I don't like it, but it's sadly true. Fashion can be democratized when we take a DIY approach to how we clothe ourselves. We can look great on the cheap and without supporting unethical fast fashion processes. We can all look fabulous while still being sustainable. That's what Refashionista is all about.”
If you are interested, you can find her previous post here on Bored Panda!