This Sustainable Fashion Organization Is Shifting Conscious Conversations
The Sewing Program for Immigrant Women in NYC
The conversations around sustainable fashion is more than just boasting about the latest ethical designer with a minimalist bamboo collection or applauding the next women-owned brand working with impoverished communities in Delhi.
Sustainable fashion, more importantly, is about recognizing women who are on the ground doing the socio-economic work on behalf of systemically oppressed communities. The real work is about agency and stakeholdership. It’s about providing resources to the most targeted communities in order to sustain some level of cultural autonomy.
11 Questions With Custom Collaborative
An estimated 21 billion pounds of textiles ends up in landfill every year. Over 91% of clothing sold in the US has been made in developing nations, likely by underpaid workers. It's no wonder that making a difference in this industry can feel quite daunting. However, change has only ever been achieved one way - one step at a time. That's why when we were introduced to Custom Collaborative, a sewing cooperative providing training to low income and immigrant women here in New York City, we were stoked. Here's more about them.
More Than Just Measuring And Stitching
After discovering a hole in the fashion market, Ngozi Okaro founded Custom Collaborative, a New York City-based development program that trains and supports women from low-income and immigrant communities through fashion.
The program nurtures and supports women as they develop sewing skills and tools to overcome employment barriers, turning the tables on marginalized women by lifting them up to economic independence. We got to sit down to Ngozi and go behind her mission to serve an otherwise under-served population of powerful and capable women:
Loving Fashion and Fashioning Love
“This is a great place to start getting out of your comfort zone,” says Eileen O’Garro, valedictorian of the September 2018 graduating class at Custom Collaborative’s Training Institute. Eileen’s story exemplifies the commitment, hard work, and creativity the Institute requires of its students. When she first enrolled, she recalls, “I was thinking it was going to be something very cutesy, but you quickly realize that it’s pretty intense.”
Custom Collaborative’s new short film, “Fashion Is Love,” explores questions like these as it focuses on sustainability, equity, and inclusivity in the art, craft, and business of fashion. Featuring three graduates from Custom Collaborative’s Training Institute, “Fashion Is Love” helps audiences appreciate fashion design as an art form in the context of a mechanized global industry.