Born of the 4th of July: Six bags made from repurposed t-shirts made in the U.S.
Fireworks, parades and BBQ’s – these are the essentials of a 4th July celebration. But for those wanting to put their patriotism in action year-round, there is no better way than to support products being made in America. A new venture by Project Repat and Threadless, launched yesterday in the spirit of Independence Day, aims to upcycle excess t-shirt inventory into fashionable accessories manufactured in the U.S.
The inspiration came while Project Repat co-founder, Ross Lohr, was in Kenya and spotted a rickshaw driver wearing a t-shirt proclaiming “I danced my ass off at Josh’s Bar Mitzvah”. He realized at once both how much textile waste is generated – the average U.S. household generates 68 lbs of textile waste per year – and how much mileage was still left in most American garments.
Together with co-founder Nathan Rothstein, he founded Project Repat with the goal of removing textiles from the waste cycle, while at the same time creating fair wage jobs in the U.S. For this pilot program, Threadless and Project Repat are making a limited edition run of 100 bags made from repurposing more than 300 t-shirts. “Our bags are reversible, sturdy, double layered, and have a very cute t-shirt pocket on the inside, says Rothstein, “They are very strong – we’ve tested them with watermelons and bowling balls – each one uses three t-shirts to make, which creates one hour of fair wage work in the USA.”
Project Repat is currently one of seven companies participating in the Hub Ventures accelerator program. The intensive 12 week initiative provides companies focusing on business ideas with a return on investment and a strong social impact, with seed funding, best-in-class mentorship, collaborative sessions with program peers, workshops and speaker events.
The eye catching line of 6 bag styles will initially be made by students from the Boston School of Fashion and Shawsheen Vocational School in Billerica, MA. As the partnership with Threadless grows, production will expand to Opportunity Threads, a worker-owned cut and sew enterprise in Morganton, North Carolina. Molly Hemstreet, Opportunity Threads’ co-founder and General Manager believes the rapidly expanding production space is “doing business in a different way.” Hemstreet says, “We want to do what we have done on a small scale and simply amplify our capacity so that more clients and producers can have sustainably produced products right here in the U.S.”