re. allows clothing--and people a chance to re.volutionize themselves.

Photo of Brianna Douglas
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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth


Help us stay in touch!

603-856-1289 3531 Warwick Court, Kansas City, MO 64111

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

instagram: re.bornclothing email: website: in progress

Date You Started Your Project Started

Ideation began June 2018, action began August 2019.

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Denim, loved globally for its comfort and durability, has long been a symbol of American fashion. However, our infatuation comes at a great cost. The commercial denim industry contributes over 4.8 million tons of CO2 and Americans contribute about 82 pounds of textile waste per person. Solving this problem is not only important, it is critical to protect vulnerable communities across the world who witness the worst effects of climate change.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

One of the most popular large scale efforts to combat waste in the denim industry is to create denim products using recycled fibers. However, at this time, companies are only capable of maintaining a 10-30% yield of recycled fibers in each pair. This means that at least 70% of the cotton used to create one pair of jeans is virgin fiber, resulting in over 15,000 l of water, 11.47 kg CO2, and 25.579g of nitrogen and phosphate deposit per pair of recycled fiber jeans. re. recognizes that recycled denim proves to be an inadequate solution to close the waste gap, and instead presents upcycling a counter option. Upcycling, the process of altering an undesirable article of clothing to breathe new life and personality into it, severely mitigates the overall waste of denim in landfills and negates the need for virgin cotton; thus slashing the water usage and air and land pollutants. Our role at re. is to collect “unwearable” denim articles from producers and recycling facilities and transform them into bold, one-of-a-kind pieces. We do this by combining, altering and changing the shape of reused fabrics to fit and suit all sizes and genders.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

My experience as a first generation student has empowered me to make a change. When I first received my acceptance letter, I immediately thought they must have made a mistake. No one from my public high school had ever gone to Cornell and many people told me not to apply. I spent the first few years at school feeling out of place. However that changed after my sophomore year, I was working at a social enterprise in Bangkok, Thailand. I felt immensely guilty that I was allowed the opportunities my parents never had, but I also felt and saw how the work I was doing was making a difference in the farmers we worked with. I realized that it was not my choice to make a change, rather my responsibility. As a person with a college degree incredibly privileged and it would be wrong not to use that privilege to deconstruct the inequality in the world much of which is exacerbated by climate change.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

At re. we consider each of our suppliers and customers to be joining our movement from the moment they donate or purchase a piece. We are moving towards sustainable, inclusive, fashion that celebrates all bodies and all identities. We design clothing that empowers individuals to embrace their true, unique selves to share with the world. Due to the eclectic nature of our designs, our pieces are often commented on, which prompts a short introduction of re. and our values to new people everyday. This spreads our message and promotes the understanding that fashion can be created sustainably with love and respect for the planet, people, and ourselves.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

re. differs from traditional denim companies by cutting out nearly all virgin cotton and thereby negating a large portion of the water, CO2, and nitrogen and phosphate deposits required in creating both new and recycled denim articles. Beyond this, re. Is built on love and respect and strives to be inclusive of all bodies and all identities in our clothing design so we may empower all that come in contact with our movement. This is inclusivity is historically missing from the fashion industry. Further, re. aims involve individuals as well as denim companies who support our movement and vision.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Re. is still in the beginning phases of development. We have focused primarily on creating networks to understand our local community and interact with potential suppliers and customers. We have well over 100 pounds raw materials and inventory, all of which has been acquired from recycling facilities or through donations by individuals passionate about our mission. Through our conversations, we have begun to educate our community on the possibility for sustainable clothing and altered many perspectives on the reality of recycled denim versus upcycled denim.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We are looking to enter a phase of rapid growth wherein we complete our ecommerce platform so we may sell nationally more efficiently and create enough product to be sold in a variety of boutique and thrift stores that we have been in contact with. We also plan to attend several farmers markets, swap meets and other local fairs to familiarize the local community with our movement. We have been speaking with individuals at industry leading companies and hope to connect with more to begin moving the denim industry at large.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Brand Development

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Donations less than $100

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges


Join the conversation:

Photo of Julia

This is such an interesting idea! People frequently forget the consequences of their well-intentioned actions. Re seems like a great way to combat this because it brings to light issues people barely know of and are seldom reminded of. Keep up the impressive work!

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