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Earth Day: ReFashioned at Eileen Fisher

Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda

How did you celebrate Earth Day this year?

We honor Earth every day at estudioBALMASEDA... However, this year we did something a bit more 'official' and celebrated Earth Day at the Eileen Fisher space at Bloomingdales with the always amazing and inspiring Sass Brown and Karina Kallio. Eileen Fisher organized two wonderful events to support Earth Month and Sass Brown's new book ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing From Up Cycled Materials. Kallio and BALMASEDA were invited to lead engaging upcycling workshops at the Eileen Fisher stores at The Shops at Columbus Circle and Bloomingdales, NY.

Sass Brown is not only a fabulously stylish activist and writer, but she is also the acting Assistant Dean for the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

I met Sass Brown when studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She was the Resident Director of the FIT program at POLIMODA, and also ended up being my Fashion Art professor for the year. Since then she has been an incredible source of inspiration, guidance, and support. I wouldn’t be walking this path if it wasn’t for her. She is an amazingly knowledgeable and cosmopolitan globe-trotter, but also a really cool, honest, and super charming super-woman. So, I say YES, and YES every time I get the chance to stand by her.

She presented her insightful new book: ReFashioned, and remained for a book-signing session.

At the event the BALMASEDA team lead a spinning demonstration where we showed people how to upcycle their T-shirts (and other soon-to-be-tossed garments) and make their own yarn. We’ve been hand-spinning all sorts of textile-remnants into a very special and highly textured yarn, which we then hand-knit into one-of-a-kind garments since 2011. Our mission with this process is to give a new life to materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill by transforming them into something elevated that can be created with simple tools and the care of our hands.

Karina Kallio owner and designer for Kallio lead her own upcycling workshop. Kallio reclaims pre-loved vintage clothing, sorts it and and re-sews it in ethical factories to give it a new life -most often- as charming children’s clothing. She and her team set up their sewing machine and patched together vintage sleeve cuffs to make cute pouches which our visitors got to take home.

These demo/workshops give us an opportunity to share our resourcefulness and love for hand-work with a varied audience in hopes that they can begin to see the potential these offcuts have, and perhaps inspire them to reconsider the real end-of-life of our products, the value of slow work, or maybe pick up a pair of needles and start to knit.

In addition to creating awareness, these events provided us an occasion to see some of the people we love like Sass BrownAmy DuFaultMimi ProberTitania Inglis, and Lorna Daniel from Indigo Handloom; but also to meet interesting new friends like Michael KherleinKarina Kallio and of course, the Eileen Fisher team.


Photos by Dorian ItenZaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda, Amy Du Fault, and the Eileen Fisher team.