Redress Raleigh’s mission is to cultivate a more responsible ecosystem for the fashion industry by educating and mobilizing consumers to be positive advocates while leveraging industry-related partnerships.
A decade ago, Redress Raleigh was founded on the simple idea that eco-fashion could be part of all of our closets—that it could be wearable, accessible, innovative and attractive. What began as a fashion show highlighting the best of green fashion launched a movement to change the textiles industry for the better.
In 2008, Redress Raleigh began with the seed of an idea—an eco-fashion show. We had a vision of sustainability that included beautiful, fashionable designs. We wanted to encourage consumers to choose eco-inspired runway looks as part of their everyday wardrobe.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION
In March of 2009, the founders’ idea grew into a full-fledged phenomenon when the first annual Redress Fashion Show was held at a club next to NC State University as part of the Hillsborough Street Renaissance Festival. Interest was so high that Redress Raleigh had to turn people away from the venue, as a line stretched around the block.
Noting the enthusiasm and anticipation of the crowd, Redress Raleigh decided to keep the momentum going with a show each year. Every year, applications for the show increased and acceptance became more prestigious. Many designers who participated in the shows went on to participate in larger events around the country, like Charleston Fashion Week and NY NOW.
FINDING OUR PURPOSE
After a few years and many sold out fashions shows, it became clear that there was a thriving creative scene in Raleigh and a love for fashion and textiles in particular. It also became apparent that though many designers were very talented, they often lacked the business knowledge or connections to continue growing their brands. Our designers were struggling to find customers while managing their emerging businesses.
Redress Raleigh noticed these needs and felt we could fill that gap by providing further education and events related to eco fashion. In addition to the fashion show, we began hosting retail markets, clothing swaps, workshops and a conference, each with varying levels of success. During this period, we began to discover our purpose and understand our skill set.
HOSTING A CONFERENCE
From 2013-2015, Redress drew hundreds of attendees from around the country and nationally-known speakers to our Redress Eco Fashion and Textiles Conference (REFTC). REFTC included all of the past elements we felt were most important to our mission combined on a larger scale: a fashion show, educational sessions, and a market featuring sustainable and local products. Redress held REFTC for three years before deciding to focus more on the local fashion designer community and year-round events.
BECOMING A NONPROFIT
Redress Raleigh was not started as a nonprofit because we originally had different thoughts on how we would reach our vision. However, by 2015 it became clear that a nonprofit would be a better business structure for us, so we became a 501c3 in November 2015.
Being a 501c3 means many things, but there are three significant reasons we became one:
Any donation you make to Redress Raleigh is tax-deductible. We have updated our website to reflect the many options you have to invest in the future of fashion and textiles through our work. You can grow this community by giving a one-time donation, or you can choose to be a recurring donor. Donors are vitally important to Redress.
We are now eligible for grants we were unable to apply for before. We plan to keep working toward a more responsible ecosystem for the fashion and textiles industry, and we will be seeking grant funding for future initiatives. If you are aware of a grant that you think would be a good fit for Redress, feel free to send us the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now anyone can volunteer for as little or as long as they like. As a non-profit organization, we can have volunteers throughout the year instead of interns who have to be enrolled for class credit. This means that even if you aren’t in school anymore, you can get involved! This also means that if you’d like to volunteer on a more regular basis throughout the year and not just at our events, we’d be happy to have you join the team. We will be adding more opportunities the more we grow, so stay tuned to our Volunteer page for current openings.
FOCUSING ON THE DESIGNERS
In 2016 and 2017, we continued holding the fashion show without a conference. However, we did want to keep some of the most positive elements of the conference, like the education and networking for emerging designers. So in 2016 we developed a program in conjunction with the fashion show that provided educational seminars and a mentorship program for our designers. The fashion show that year also included an opportunity for the designers to meet attendees one-on-one after the runway show.
The program for designers was well-received and provided a great overview of the industry and knowledge for starting a fashion design brand, but most of the designers felt they could use even more in-depth knowledge. So in 2017, Redress Raleigh expanded this program into an incubator to jumpstart emerging designers’ collections into actual brands.
Over 15 hours of product development education, a professional photo shoot, and mentorship was provided through the program. We also provided a platform on our website to sell designs featured on the runway, complete with a sizing guide and pricing.
MOVING BEYOND A FASHION SHOW
Every year we held the fashion show it sold out and earned many accolades, but in 2017, we noticed a shift. It seemed that the market for eco-fashion was not increasing enough to support the fantastic designers Redress Raleigh nurtured and showcased.
Because of that, in 2018 we took time to restructure our nonprofit organization to be more effective and more proactive. We refocused our mission on engaging with and speaking directly to the people making the biggest impact in the industry—YOU, the consumer.
You are a part of every designer’s potential customer base. You decide every day what to wear and you most likely decided where to buy it. Those decisions, made by millions of people the world over, make an enormous impact. And right now, that impact is very detrimental to earth and the people who work in the industry.
ALIGNING WITH OUR VISION
Redress Raleigh’s vision is to create a more responsible ecosystem for the fashion industry. In order to do that, we are:
identifying people who are willing to learn more about this vision;
educating and engaging with people who are actively making purchasing choices toward this vision; and
activating people to stand up and advocate for this vision.
We are planning events highlighting who is doing cool things in the world of fashion and textiles and answering questions you may have about how your clothes are made. Our first “Who’s Who in Fashion and Textiles” event was held in April 2018 and featured a boutique owner, independent designer, and representative from the City of Raleigh to discuss the curbside textile recycling program. We also held an educational event in conjunction with fashionSPARK to discuss the Lifecycle of Denim. One lucky audience member even won a custom-made pair of jeans!
Another positive development in 2018 was the addition of more great Board Members. We started holding Board Meetings more frequently and formed subcommittees to work on foundational issues that needed more attention. We are continuing to address these issues moving forward so that we can build a strong foundation for the organization.
LOOKING FORWARD: 2019 AND BEYOND
In 2019, we are expanding our two event types (Who’s Who and Educational events) and continuing our relationship with fashionSPARK. We believe that supporting their fabulous fashion show is a more effective use of resources than holding our own while we work toward a new signature event that reflects our revised vision.
We will continue holding quarterly mixers for those in the fashion and textiles industry or those interested in joining it. We will also be updating our website to include more resources for those of you on every level—from wanting to learn more sustainable fashion and investing in it, to becoming an advocate yourself.
This past decade we’ve seen a tremendous amount of change within the industry and our own community. As awareness of the impact of the fashion industry grows, Redress Raleigh will be here to catalyze the move toward a more responsible ecosystem.