MILWAUKEE – A Milwaukee woman has made it her mission to reduce waste while creating fashion-forward clothing.
Vanessa Devaki Andrew is the owner of Madame Chino. She started it in 2003. Andrew focuses on repurposing clothes that end up in landfills.
““Why don’t you take something that looks like junk to people and make it something that I can sell or add to,” said Andrew.
She works with old t-shirts, boat sails and any type of fabric to create one-of-a-kind outfits. It can be a laborious process, but Andrew it’s all worth it. “We are wasting too much and we need to rethink what we buy and think that it can’t be used anymore,” she said.
“I’ve done a few Goodwill visits and I’ve seen a lot of things that we throw away in our culture and we don’t even have to think about it,” she said.
In the year According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 11.3 million tons of textiles ended up in landfills in 2018. This accounts for 7.7 percent of the waste. Moreover, according to a study published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NSIT) in May 2022, 50 billion garments will be thrown away within a year of manufacture. Andrew, this number is very high, which is why she is doing everything she can to make a difference.
In addition, NSIT, a part of the US Congress Department, says that the fashion industry is the second largest water supplier in the world, using 20 trillion liters of water per year. Additionally, 20 percent of water pollution comes from textile treatment and dying.
Fast fashion is a major contributor to these environmental problems. Thinking that your clothes can last longer and not throwing something away immediately affects not only the environment, but also your wallet.
“I think it’s important to put the power back in the hands of the people. You don’t rely on opinions, trends, you know, putting your money in some guy’s big pocket.”
In the entire design process, there is no waste. Almost everything is used. If she has no way to use them, she donates these clothes to local church organizations.
Mrs. Chino is not just a clothing store. Andrew hosts sewing classes and does alterations. The pieces empower other people to make clothes that feel good, and are more environmentally responsible. The improvement allows clothes to last longer and not end up in the landfill.
“Create some self-reliance with people — how they do it themselves,” she said.
Andrew accepts clothing donations. Call or text her to discuss donating – (414) 303-1981. You can go to her website for a full list of sewing room supplies.
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