PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A brand new assortment of collegiate attire strains the cabinets within the Brown College Bookstore, and whereas the clothes could appear acquainted, no two are precisely the identical. That’s as a result of designer Glory (SeungHee) Lee crafted each bit, utilizing unsold or in any other case undesirable Brown-branded attire as her basis.
Lee, a Class of 2024 Brown-RISD dual-degree scholar finding out attire design at Rhode Island College of Design and economics at Brown, is the founding father of Lacking Button, a artistic studio centered on upcycling — the follow of remodeling undesirable supplies into priceless, high-quality merchandise. In different phrases, Lee is popping trash into treasure.
“Upcycle is at all times attention-grabbing, as a result of you must be artistic with such a restricted set of assets,” Lee mentioned. “You’re given a place to begin, then nonetheless you possibly can stretch that’s actually as much as your artistic capability. It’s nearly like a problem-solving problem.”
Lee based Lacking Button final 12 months and formally launched the brand new collaboration with the bookstore, the place the objects at the moment are out there on the market, over Brown’s Household Weekend on Oct. 22. Lacking Button’s Brown assortment contains greater than 70 distinctive items, from ruffled crop-tops to patchwork tote baggage, strappy sweaters and embellished hoodies with added pockets. Whereas delivering high-quality, well-designed clothes is actually a part of her aim, it’s Lee’s ardour for sustainability that drove each the creation of the studio and the collaboration with the bookstore.
“I wished to do one thing the place the answer that I’m bringing additionally helps them to deal with this overstock drawback that is quite common in retail,” Lee mentioned.
Overstock historically contains objects that didn’t promote for one motive or one other, however can even embody broken objects, like shirts with improperly sewn seams or errors within the graphics. As well as, potential distributors ship the bookstore free pattern merchandise yearly. All of this surplus materials “collects over time and form of turns right into a mountain,” mentioned TJ Cochran, director of the Brown College Bookstore.
“We’ve completed every kind of issues — we’ve donated issues, put them in particular gross sales or clearance, but when it will get right down to the purpose the place it’s simply not promoting, it will go to a thrift retailer,” Cochran mentioned. “It might additionally find yourself within the landfill, and that’s not the place we wish it to go.”
Via the collaboration, nonetheless, that potential waste is prevented completely. Since 2020, Cochran mentioned the bookstore has been capable of donate 100% of its leftover or broken attire to Refried Attire, one other firm that sells upcycled merchandise on the bookstore, and now to Lacking Button as nicely.
“What I like so much about these applications is that they’re using each scrap of cloth,” he mentioned. “They actually strive to verify nothing goes to waste. It’s sustainable, however individuals are additionally getting trendy, one-of-a-kind merchandise. It drives gross sales, as a result of individuals see it and know that in the event that they don’t purchase it then, they’re by no means going to get the chance to get that piece once more. It’s a superb transfer.”
Lacking Button was conceived final winter and got here collectively shortly all year long, launching its first venture in Could 2022 in partnership with the RISD Retailer to show their overstock into an upcycled vogue assortment. Impressed by the success of the sold-out RISD assortment, Lee approached the Brown Bookstore to see if it will be fascinated by an identical partnership.