The Ethical Answer To Fast Fashion Is At Your Fingertips

Photo: Courtesy of Sew Squad.
We talk a lot about sustainability and the push for fashion companies to embrace more eco-friendly practices. But beyond shopping vintage and championing brands who prioritize sustainability, is there any tangible way to make your wardrobe more circular? That answer is now yes, thanks to SewSquad, a fashion editor's answer to fast fashion. The brainchild of Zoey Washington, SewSquad produces easy-to-make, fun-to-wear, trend-based sewing patterns that Zoey says are "faster than Amazon."
So here's how it works. According to a press release, every kit comes with a beginner-friendly sewing project inspired by the season's hottest looks, a little inspo to show you how to style what you make, a bonus 'Leftover Look' idea that you can create using scrap material — and for good measure....a tape measurer so you won't need a sewing machine. Sewsquad will update its patterns with drops throughout the season. It's initial offering includes a relaxed T-Shirt Dress, a Classic Tee, a structured Zip Skirt, and a playful Skater Skirt, each $15.
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Below we chat with owner and creator Zoey Washington, a woman whose career spans almost two decades (she has worked as a stylist, writer, and fashion editor for the likes of Marie Claire, Essence, Vogue, Elle, and InStyle magazines).
Refinery29: What inspired Sew Squad?
Zoey Washington: I used to love making my accessories when I was younger, everything from a simple tote to a makeup bag to easy tanks. But when I was younger, there was never anything on the market that really spoke to me. Sewing patterns are made for seamstresses. They're so complicated...most are written for experienced sewers and are riddled with industry terms and elaborate markings that, quite frankly, zapped all of the creativity out of the process.
The crafting, sewing, and DIY industry just never seemed to keep up with what was really influencing style. I developed SewSquad so anyone could open up our bag of fun and create something super simple and special in a few short hours without feeling like they need an advanced degree in sewing. I am so proud of this line of easy-to-use, fun-to-wear sewing projects.
I can't sew, will I still be able to do this?
Every SewSquad pattern is made for anyone from beginners who've never picked up a needle and thread, to sewing enthusiasts who know their way around a sewing machine. Each project comes with our '101s' that help you get your feet wet with the basics of sewing and teach you a few terms along the way if you're starting from scratch. All of our products are no-machine necessary which was very important because, in the end, our company is not about mastering the skill of sewing. Sewsquad is about making your own style.
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How often will new patterns debut?
Sewsquad is based on new trends so, like any fashion brand, we will be debuting new products and patterns throughout the season. We pay attention to what people wear and that includes everything from runway shows to street style and Instagram. Our first line, DROP 1, recently debuted and we will be adding more patterns and additional product lines throughout the summer. The clothes you make with Sewsquad are meant to be worn with everything in your closet and each pattern can be used as many times as you want from season to season. Our projects even have an additional "Leftover Look" mini project that's designed to make the most out of scrap material or discarded fabric. Waste not, want not!
You mentioned this is a faster option, than Zara and Amazon, what is the fastest you've put something together?
When you think of the term "fast fashion" it often has a negative connotation that brings on the weight of ethical and environmental concerns — and rightfully so. But the truth is, often, there is nothing quicker than making something yourself. Our patterns can be made with some material (whether it's new fabric or a repurposed garment), scissors, and a needle and thread. When you're equipped with our patterns and those supplies, you can make something to wear in a few short hours...quicker than a trip to the mall or ordering something online. But most importantly, you'll have an item that you feel connected to because you made it yourself. And if you don't like it, you have the freedom to change your style by adding simple personalizations and embellishments in a way that doesn't feel as easy when you've purchased a garment from a store.
After a piece has been made, are you able to repurpose it into a new look?
Absolutely! But what I love about how our "squad" is using the patterns is that they are not only making clothes out of material in a traditional way from a fabric store...but they are also using each pattern to reimagine clothes that they already have in their closets. An old maxi dress can become a Classic Tee, an oversized t-shirt is your next Zip Skirt in disguise. Sometimes being sustainable is as easy as rethinking what you already own.
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