Goodwill Stands Behind Upcycled Fashion Innovation

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In her May 21st article for The New York Times, Jessica Testa explored how Erin Beatty, the creative director and designer of up-and-coming upcycling brand Rentrayage, handcrafted her line from discarded fabrics, turned two used t-shirts into high fashion, and hopes to train the world to re-look at discarded items.

To the editor:

Jessica Testa’s recent article “The Designer Turning Two Used T-Shirts Into High Fashion,” was music to our ears and rang so true. The article is part of a series examining Responsible Fashion, and innovative efforts to address issues facing the fashion industry.

Goodwill NYNJ—who collects and re-sells used textiles to support its programs for the community—and other nonprofits have been quietly leading in responsible fashion for over 100 years.

At Goodwill NYNJ, we believe there is a way to quantify “doing good.” We talk of a double impact mission of sustainable fashion and the power of work, one as a result of the other.

In 2021, Goodwill NYNJ re-purposed more than 40 million pounds of pre-loved textiles and goods, successfully diverting them from becoming pollution and saving nearly 59k metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Our Goodwill store sales partially funded our employment services, job training, and day programs for nearly 10,000 people who are unemployed or underemployed, almost half of them with disabilities.

We agree with turning pre-loved clothing into high fashion. There are many ways to design more responsible clothing. In April 2022, we asked five designers to upcycle garments using textiles donated to Goodwill stores. We also featured the upcycled creations by the Tommy Hilfiger brand, designers Gigi Burris Millinery, Maxwell Osborne of anOnlyChild, and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School, as well as design student Monica Palucci from SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in a Goodwill mini-fashion show, auctioning the garments to support our services.

Last year, designers Greg Lauren, Tracy Reese, and Yeohlee Teng, along with a group of eight students from FIT and Parsons School of Design, upcycled garments.

Goodwill NYNJ has taken the initiative of going beyond selling pre-loved goods. We agree with Jessica: it is time to use upcycling—this seemingly new design mentality—to create more responsible fashion. We encourage designers to partner with non-profit thrift stores like Goodwill NYNJ to create these “new” pieces, which can add to the positive impacts of the end piece.


Katy Gaul-Stigge

Goodwill NYNJ

President & CEO

New York City, NY